When boyfriends Kerry Kennedy, 37, and Hayward Duresseau, 27, visited San Francisco earlier this year, little did they know that their lives would be forever changed. Hayward began to develop a headache and sensitivity to light that progressed quickly and no over the counter medication was helping. The couple had been drinking the night prior and they believed the symptoms were caused by dehydration. BuzzFeed News reports that he was rushed to the hospital when the symptoms worsened.
While in the hospital, it was discovered that Hayward had contracted bacterial meningococcal meningitis, an infection that can be fatal and is typically spread by saliva transfer that could happen from sharing food, drinks, or kissing.
The infection continued to take a toll on Hayward as his health quickly declined. He became paralyzed from the waist down and temporarily lost his vision—but also became permanently deaf. Three weeks in the hospital helped him recover his strength, mobility, and sight, but his hearing was lost.
Communication between the partners of three years became extremely difficult. They learned as much American Sign Language (ASL) as possible to be able to communicate—but the most important thing that they needed to say was “I Love You”.
Hayward told BuzzFeed:
He would place the ‘I love you’ sign on my leg or on my back, and that’s when I knew I could go to sleep.
Six months inside his own personal “jail”, Hayward was approved for a cochlear implant that would assist with the function of the damaged inner ear. The surgery was a success, but it required some recovery time and when the device was ready to be switched on, Hayward was relieved to know that his hearing had been restored—but even more surprised to receive a marriage proposal from Kerry who had supported him throughout the last difficult months of his life.
Try to watch this video and not cry. Go ahead—I dare you!
The couple plans to get married around Mardi Gras 2019 since this is the time of year they had their first date. They are committed to learning ASL so they can build on their communication together.
Okay, I’m not crying—you’re crying!
Congratulations to Kerry and Hayward!