For every bride, her wedding is a special day. And it was no different for Becky Turney. But it was made extraordinary by a special someone she didn’t expect to see at all.
Becky was surrounded by friends and family in an open field under Alaska’s mountain sky as she made her way down the aisle to marry the love of her life. But as happy as she was, there was just something missing — her son Triston who had suddenly passed away at 19 a few years ago. Considering how special this day was, it’s no surprise she missed him terribly. Despite her sorrow, she had a feeling that he would be here next to her as she pledged to take her fiance, Kelly, in sickness and in health, so she left one seat empty for him.
On the seat, she left a wooden placard that read, “I’m in heaven for your wedding so what shall I do? I’ll come down to earth to spend it with you. So save me a seat, just one empty chair. You may not see me but I will be there.”
But there was something the mother didn’t know — she was about to hear her son again.
Just moments before the ceremony began, her fiance Kelly called out to a special someone – 21-year-old Jacob Kilby. He had traveled all the way from San Diego to Alaska because he had been asked by Kelly to be the sixth groomsman for the couple’s wedding. Though he might have been a stranger to Becky, he held something in him of her son’s. His heart. He had received the late teen’s heart on October 21, 2015 via a transplant, according to People.
Although Becky had spoken to Jacob on her birthday over the phone and even exchanged messages before, she hadn’t actually seen the person who carried her son’s heart. And she definitely had no idea he would be present at her wedding. When she turned around and saw who sat in the empty chair left for her son, she couldn’t believe it. She embraced him as if he were her own son and was overwhelmed by emotions as she heard her son’s heartbeat when she placed a stethoscope on Jacob’s chest.
When talking to Mirror UK about meeting Jacob, she said, “At that moment, I just lost it. If my brother-in-law hadn’t been holding my hand, I would have fallen down.” “It was the most amazing moment of my life,” Becky recalled. “I threw my arms around him and told him that it was the greatest gift in the world.” What made it even more emotional was that she got to hear her son’s heartbeat. “It was amazing. Jacob asked me if I wanted to hear Triston’s heart. It was his heart and it was beating so strong. I was saying, ‘This is so amazing, that’s Triston’s heart.’ It was emotional.”
“I lost my mind. I squealed like a little girl. I jumped up and down. It was incredible,” she told Today. She was also in awe of how her to-be husband had actually managed to stage such a surprise. “I’ve never ever been surprised like that, like ever. I’m the girl who secretly unwraps all the Christmas presents under the tree and puts them back. So for him to pull this off was just incredible.”
As for 44-year-old Kelly, he admitted that it was months in the making and took “some trickery” to hide Jacob from his to-be-wife until this very moment. Speaking to BBC, Kelly said, “I began planning her surprise with Jacob about four to five months earlier. He is an amazing young man. We encourage everyone to please become an organ donor. It saves lives and changed ours forever.”
With such a touching scene, tears were flowing freely down the guests’ faces, something that Kelly admitted he got scolded for, “for messing up people’s makeup.” But it was the thought that truly counted.
But the bride and groom weren’t the only ones affected. Jacob was just as overwhelmed by the experience. He revealed that the day had been “so unrealistic, so heart-warming, and incredibly emotional,” he added, “But overall, it has been all love and two families joining together.”
Becky was grateful for his presence and thanked him for traveling so far. “Hands down the best gift… most amazing surprise ever. Thank you for caring for Triston’s heart. Thank you for being here.”
This emotional scene was captured by wedding photographer and owner of Love Adventured, Amber Lanphier and the images portray just how love can find its way home, no matter the circumstances.