Brittany Maynard's Husband Shares Heartbreaking Details About Their Love

brittany maynard dan diaz wedding

In all the stories about Brittany Maynard, the woman with incurable brain cancer who chose a death with dignity over the weekend, she is described over and over again as a "newlywed." It's a detail that tears at the heart every time you think of it: Maynard married Dan Diaz just two years ago. We feel for everyone in her family, but especially for her husband. So we're awed by the generous gift the couple left behind -- Diaz shared their love story (with Maynard's blessing) in People magazine before she died.

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Any of us who remember how sweet those first few years as a married couple are must surely understand how keenly painful Maynard's death must be for Diaz -- and how much he must have loved her to support her final decision. I hope sharing their story helps him heal and move on. It will definitely touch countless people and remind us to cherish each other.

Maynard and Diaz met in April 2007 when she was 23 and he was 35. Brittany would joke about their age difference and his longstanding bachelor status. "'What's taken me so long?' and my answer was, honestly, that I hadn't met the girl for me until Brittany."

Diaz tells People he noticed Maynard's physical beauty right away, and then as he got to know her, he soon learned "what a beautiful person she was on the inside." He describes her as "a good person to be around: Attractive, energetic, and outgoing and just a personality you really get attracted to."

More from The Stir: Brittany maynard Dies With Dignity at Her Home

After dating for about five years, Diaz proposed "on bended knee" in May 2012. They married at the Beltane Ranch in Sonoma County, California, on September 19, 2012. Diaz says Maynard did most of the planning. "The end result," he says, "was there were a few moments I caught myself looking around at the location, the friends and family and everyone there and I was like, 'Wow. This is a really beautiful setting.'" Friends told the couple it was the best wedding they'd ever attended.

Part of what made the wedding special was the waltz, where they danced to Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E" at their reception. They had practiced and practiced.

As for the honeymoon, adventure-minded Maynard chose Patagonia, which Diaz describes as the "best of both worlds." They would hike to see glaciers by day, then return to get pampered in the evening. "So I'd say we really did it right where we had a lot of what she wanted -- the outdoors, hiking and trekking and seeing the beautiful sights in nature -- but then we'd also come back to the hotel and relax."

Dan Diaz waited his whole life to meet his soul mate. He told People, "I felt like this is the person for me and the person I want to spend the rest of my life with." But what if the person for you has only a few years left to live? What if the person you want to spend the rest of your life with just ... can't do that?

Diaz had no idea what the future held for the love of his life when they married. And there's no point in trying to guess what they might have done if they'd known. None of us knows what lies just around the bend. That's the terrifying, high-stakes game we play when we choose to love.

I suspect that even before they found out that Maynard was dying, this couple loved each other in every way, fully, each day of their short time with each other. And for that reason, they inspire us all.

Imagine if you had just a few weeks left to live. Set aside the question of whether you'd make the same choice Maynard did. If you knew how soon that window was closing, what would you do differently?

Maybe your mate's annoying little quirks would bother you less. Maybe you'd see him with fresh eyes, touch him more often, be more patient, look for more opportunities to connect on a deeper level.

Everyone in a relationship has a beautiful love story. And most of us will have our whole lives to keep writing that story. I think of Brittany and Dan, and they make me want to stay present and give whole-heartedly, without reserve, with my loved ones.

What would you do differently as a couple if you learned one of you would be dying young?

 

Image via Compassion & Choices/The Brittany Fund

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