Tammy Davies rolled a wheelchair up to the fifth floor of the Victoria Hospital Sunday. It wasn’t for a patient. On it, sat white dresses and veils – everything a beautiful young bride would need for her special day.
But there was no bride, not even an engagement. The dresses were for Lexi Verge. She’s only 19, and has no plans to marry – but she’s afraid that her mom won’t be there when she does.
“Her mom is dying, and she knows that she wants her mom to be a part of that,” Davies, owner of Devotion Bridal Lounge, said. “That’s a special moment every mother and daughter want to have, and it was so important to Lexi and her mom.”
Wendy Verge had recently chosen to stop treatment for pancreatic cancer, after 13 rounds of chemotherapy. Lexi said she realized how much they still had to share.
“We started talking about some things we wanted to do together and I mentioned wedding dress shopping,” she explained.
Lexi and her dad approached Davies on Friday with their idea. Right away, Davies said, “I knew it was something I had to do.” She offered to open up the store after-hours, to give them all the time they needed. They brought on photographer Mason Neufeld to capture the moment.
Saturday, Lexi came by to pick out her favourite dresses. One stood out, “a beautiful, figure-hugging, sweetheart neckline dress with lace and mikado silk and buttons all the way down the back,” Davies said. Her father picked another. They were ready to bring in Wendy to help them make the final decision.
But then Wendy’s health got worse. She got sicker, and weaker. Lexi started to lose hope.
“We realized that there was no way she was going to make it to the store the next day,” she said. “It was really heartbreaking trying to accept the fact that we wouldn’t be able to share that moment together.”
But Neufeld and Davies weren’t about to let that happen.
“I knew Lexi was pretty devastated that she was not going to have this moment with her mom,” Davies said. “Mason contacted me and said ‘why don’t we do this at the hospital?’”
They rounded up four dresses, some veils and a bunch of flowers, and headed for the hospital. Neufeld brought her camera equipment, and a mirror for Lexi. The patients and staff were delighted, she remembered.
“Whoever’s path we crossed on the way was instantly lit up with a smile,” Neufeld told the Daily Herald.
On the fifth floor, Lexi did her mom’s hair and makeup. The family, Neufeld said, greeted everyone with “warm smiles.”
The first dress was Lexi’s favourite. Everyone remembers the moment when her mom first saw her daughter all in white.
Wendy’s “eyes were filled with tears,” Neufeld said, “and she had a look that I had never seen before. They embraced each other and everyone could tell that they had found the dress.”
“The reaction of her mom to the first dress was so touching,” Davies remembered. “I think it made everyone cry.”
Lexi tried on others, but Wendy picked that dress. “Her dad was outvoted,” Davies said.
At the bridal shop, emotion happens every day. But for Davies, that day in the hospital revealed a special kind of love.
“It was sadness, but happiness and joy and laughter,” she said.
“I saw the pride in Wendy’s eyes and the love for her daughter, and also the compassion and love that Lexi has.”
Neufeld felt it too.
“The Verge family really does share such a special bond,” she said. “When in their presence you instantly sense the powerful love that they share for each other.”
For Lexi, that day in the hospital was “heartbreaking but happy.” It will always stay with her – especially on the day that she actually walks down the aisle.
“Even if she’s not there for my actual wedding day, she will still be with me – because we picked that dress out together.”