This Couple’s Story Will Leave You Ugly Crying

I’m skeptical when it comes to true love, but this couple might be the closest thing to it. When Steve and Hope Dezember, both from Johns Creek, Georgia, first met, they didn’t think much of it. It was your typical textbook date, complete with a romantic, candlelit dinner and Frank Sinatra playing in the background. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong with this picturesque scene.

No one could have expected what was to come.

Back in August 2011, just four months after their first date, doctors finally formed a clear diagnosis for Steve’s condition. The former engineering recruiter was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Rather than be beaten by his illness, Steve took the chance to propose to the love of his life. He already had a ring prepared, however, he told Hope that he would understand if she didn’t want to pursue a relationship with an ALS patient.

“He said, ‘You don’t have to stay with me, you heard what the doctor said,'” Hope recalled during an interview with People. “I said, ‘I’m not going anywhere.'”

This day 2011. That's all. #hopeforsteve 😻

A post shared by Hope Cross Dezember ☮ (@hopieannc) on

Two months later, Steve and Hope walked down the aisle. Due to the nature of his condition, Steve wanted to be able to make the walk on his own two feet.

“It’s pretty wild. It’s an interesting thing when you get married and you don’t know how long you’re going to get with your husband,” Hope explained.

Update from my favorite photo of us from 6 years ago. . Today we talk 💩💩💩 #poop. . Steve has gastroparesis which limits what he can take by stomach over the past year we've made huge strides getting bits of food, and teas, but one thing we haven't found is a regumine to keep him regular. So a few weeks ago we noticed he was pretty impacted we did an enema and some digging and relieved him initially. . Turns out this hospital visit is much more about his belly than infection. In fact our infectious disease doc said his white blood cell count is the best it's been in years. Steve became impacted again, and we had to clear which was miserable for him and since then he's been going hard baseball size BM's. In fact he went 6💩⚾ last night alone. . He's so miserable, zonked, and wired at once he's only slept an hour the past two days. So if you're reading this if you could see him resting comfortably that would be amazing. He needs a full day of snoozing. . He's been through so much on this journey and every new thing reminds me how much health is the biggest blessing. I told everyone today if you can 💩 daily, you're blessed. He's strong but also weary. I give him the space to feel all of the eff this shit (literally) and just hold hope he will get through it and back to comfortable and all in. Because in the midst of some of these hard day's it's hard for him to see the light. So I hold it for him through exhaustion and rally the troops! . Thank you all for loving us, and supporting us, and letting us talk about poop. 💩🙏💜😍 . #hospitalthrowback #hopeforsteve #thosedatingdays #poopmatters #alotinfact #happysolstice #realtalk

A post shared by Hope Cross Dezember ☮ (@hopieannc) on

Unfortunately, his condition wouldn’t wait for him. By January of the following year, Steve’s motor skills deteriorated. He fell more often and doctors had to insert a tube to help him breathe by 2013. His body weight was only 67 pounds. Hope had to watch his close brushes with death at least twice. Despite this, the two remain optimistic.

“When I look at him, he’s still just as handsome. He’s still cute. He doesn’t shave his beard anymore. He’s hairy, and I like that,” she said light-heartedly.

Their determination did not go unnoticed. The couple later worked together to create a documentary that followed them for two years following Steve’s diagnosis. The film, titled Hope for Steve, debuted in 2014 and is currently available on Netflix and Amazon.

I believe these photos show perfectly how we feel about today. So many emotions; joy, anxiety, gratitude, excitement, love, & relief. Laying with Steve we were just talking about how for once our exhaustion feels like one of goal crushing instead of soul sucking like so much of what ALS can bring. This is why this project has always been so important to us. We want to create and spend our days in joys and laughter while we work, and that's what painting days are. Thank you so much @artistjeremybrown for helping make this project a reality (and for these awesome photos 📸) & for all your hard work you do for us. As we lay tired and watch documentary's our hearts feel full. So thankful. 🙏❤️😍🎨😭😍😘😄 . #hopeforsteve #driveforacure #kickingalsintheass #participatinginlife #lookathowhandsomemyboois #heamazedme #weneededthis . PS www.driveforacure.com 🎨😘

A post shared by Hope Cross Dezember ☮ (@hopieannc) on

Hope couldn’t be happier that their love story could be immortalized as such.

Hope, now 32, left her job as a mental health therapist in order to care for her husband full time. She hasn’t heard his voice in years now, but she is still devoted as ever. Hope still questions why Steve asked if she didn’t want to marry him before. She admits that, even if she had the chance to go back, she would still say yes.

Doctors and nurses admit that there isn’t much left they can do for Steve, but Hope is determined to keep looking for ways to make her husband’s life comfortable.

Steve eventually spoke with People by using a computer program. He said:

“It’s not easy to know you’re on the path of being not able to move. It’s really a lot to deal with but I feel rather optimistic for having the prognosis I have. My days are spent watching the squirrels and when I have energy I watch TV and work the stock market. Hope is an angel, I’m so thankful she has stuck it out with me every single day.”

Just recently, Steve managed to muster up enough strength to work on another hobby he loves: painting. His condition makes it hard to work the brush himself, so he picks the paint colors and then tells people to maneuver his chair in certain ways to paint. He expects to have some paintings for sale sometime in August.

“I’m fighting for the cure. I’m fighting to stay alive for when that cure happens,” Steve said. Hope added her own words as well. “The truth is we feel the weight of the heavy stuff, we don’t deny that it’s hard and it’s sad. We mourn when he loses some of his function, but we also find what’s left and we’re thankful for that. At the end of the day he’s still here and we still get to spend our days together.”

More information about Steve’s work and their story can be found on their website, hopeforsteve.com.

Lillie Mae GauranoCOLLEGECANDY Writer
A writer by day and a reader by night, and if you say the words "free" and "food" together I'm there.
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