Rhonda White had just one wish before dying. She wanted to marry her boyfriend of three years, despite being stuck in a hospital bed.
The 50-year-old factory worker from Ionia, Michigan, had been fighting a brain tumor and melanoma since September, but last week doctors told her she was nearing the end. She was in and out of consciousness for several days when family members say she woke up with a sudden request.
Her daughter, Jordan White, 23, tells PEOPLE, “She was in and out of it last Monday and she got on some medicine and woke up Tuesday, and she saw Brian and they were talking. She was like, ‘Baby, will you marry me?’ It was awesome and fantastic, and everyone in the room was excited. We weren’t expecting that at all.”
White was rushed to the hospital in September when she woke up with a painful headache. After two MRIs, doctors elected to perform emergency brain surgery.
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Jordan remembers, “It was one of the craziest days of my life — and there was a lot of crying.”
Doctors removed the brain tumor but discovered several other lesions on her lung and liver, and diagnosed Rhonda with melanoma that had metastasized. Rhonda was told there wasn’t much doctors could do, and last week, physicians told family members she might not make it to Thanksgiving.
That’s why when her boyfriend, Brian Parkhouse, accepted her proposal on Tuesday, hospice workers at the Supportive Care Unit of Spectrum Health’s Fuller campus in Grand Rapids went into overdrive to plan a wedding. In just 24 hours, the team pulled together everything they needed.
“They were so excited — they got the cake for us, they brought a chaplain, a harpist and a guitarist,” Jordan tells PEOPLE. They also found a purple wig — Rhonda’s favorite color — for her to wear down the aisle.
And no one missed a beat when the family decided to make it a double wedding.
Jordan’s older sister, Brieannah White, decided she wanted to get married, as well. The 25-year old has been engaged to her high school sweetheart for eight years and knew she wanted her mom at her wedding.
Brieannah tells PEOPLE, “Since this all happened so fast, I couldn’t stand the idea that she wouldn’t be able to see my wedding.”
Last Thursday, about 40 friends and family came to the hospital where they made an “aisle” near the family lounge, just down the hall from Rhonda’s room. The chaplain married both couples at the same time.
“It was probably one of the coolest services,” Jordan says. “It was truly a beautiful wedding. The chaplain really took the time to know us and there were some inside family jokes and my mom was really impatient, she shoved the ring on her finger.”
Brieannah adds, “It was amazing and I’ve never seen her happier in my entire life.”
Two days after the joint nuptials, Rhonda died, her family tells PEOPLE. They have since set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for the hospital bills.
The sisters told PEOPLE ahead of Rhonda’s death they “don’t want people to feel sorry for our situation.”
“She fought it every single day,” Brieannah said. “We want them to be happy that she got to get married.”
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