Six years after he was rendered paralysed in a horrific car crash, Joel Jackson has finally enjoyed his first dance as a married couple with his wife Lauren.
The two tied the knot two years ago, after Joel cheated death and survived a car accident which left him with such severe injuries that he was effectively decapitated internally, with his head separated from his spine.
When the high school sweethearts got married in 2013, Lauren told her husband when he could walk, “I want you to dance with me”.
And, just days before their second wedding, her wish was fulfilled as, at a physical therapy session and with the aid of a zero gravity harness, 26-year-old Joel stood up for the first time since his accident.
If I were a crier, this is where I would have been a hot mess. I was just in awe. It was one of those moments that took my breath away. I couldn’t stop saying, ‘goodness, you are so tall’. I forgot how tall he was after all these years.
Seizing the moment, and with the help of staff at the rehabilitation hospital, the couple decided to mark the moment with their official first dance as man and wife.
In the emotional moment they held each other and danced to Edwin McCain’s ‘I’ll Be’.
Writing on the couple’s blog, photographer Lauren added:
I have photographed and videoed tonnes of brides and grooms during their first dance. I always wondered what they giggled and smiled about, what the conversation was about. Still to this day I find myself wondering what sweet words they are sharing in that moment, but today, I got to relive that moment again with my groom. We shared our first dance again, this time on our feet.
Joel’s quality of life might be different than what they would want for themselves, but I’m convinced it’s more rich and joyous than they can imagine. It is the little triumphs that are giant steps for us. And for the little things, I am grateful.
Experts said the crash in 2009 should have killed Joel – as well as being internally decapitated, he suffered a twice broken jaw, a broken pelvis, as well as brain stem damage, and he was placed in a medically induced coma.
But Joel fought on and, two weeks after the accident, Joel underwent surgery to fuse his spine and head back together with a steel rod. Doctors warned he had little hope of recovery but Joel continued to defy their expectations and he and Lauren wed in September 2013.
The couple are now preparing to move into their first home and, in order to make that dream a reality, the couple are raising money to try and purchase a home which will cater to Joel’s needs and allow him to live as full a life as possible.
To help the couple, visit their fundraising page and donate here.