Have you ever fallen in love with your spouse twice?
Some romantics would say that if they had the chance, they’d want to experience that all over again.
That scenario may be a dream for some, but for Peter Marshall, it became his reality.
Diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s three years ago, Peter had started losing his memories—even the happiest ones he shared with his wife, Lisa.
Peter, 56, married Lisa Marshall 12 years ago, but he had forgotten that. He also doesn’t remember the milestones that marked their relationship—the first time they met, held hands, and kissed. Even the memory of their wedding day had escaped him.
So, one Saturday evening last December, while they were cuddled up on the couch watching their favorite TV show, Peter looked at his wife and asked if she would marry him.
He had fallen in love with her all over again.
As sweet as that may be, Lisa, 54, couldn’t help but feel sad about Peter’s condition.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Lisa, 54, told CNN. “We’ve made new memories, but it hurts because I always want to say ‘Remember that one time?’ I want to reminisce with him, but Peter can’t remember anything now, much less what happened 20 years ago.”
Peter and Lisa met as neighbors in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They were both married to other partners then and busy raising their kids, but they remained close until Peter’s family moved to Connecticut.
After almost a year with no communication, the pair reconnected when they discovered that they were both going through a divorce.
After meeting once in Harrisburg, they became inseparable and committed to an eight-year, long-distance relationship until all their children went off to college.
It was, indeed, a whirlwind romance. But it didn’t matter because Lisa and Peter were deeply in love with each other.
What Lisa loves most about Peter is the way that he loves her.
“He’s so kind, so gentle, so flirty and fun and romantic,” she said. “He’s always been so passionate about our relationship. About me.”
So in 2009, Lisa moved to Connecticut, and they tied the knot.
She first noticed that something was wrong when Peter kept forgetting about his keys, wallet, and the meaning of certain words. Sometimes, he also struggled to put together sentences.
Lisa kept telling herself that it was just because of age, but when their family and friends had started noticing it, too, that’s when she knew it was something real.
After plenty of tests, Peter was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease on April 30, 2018.
Peter’s condition quickly took over their life as husband and wife.
Lisa remembers the first time Peter forgot who she was. It happened during a trip to their rental home in Rhode Island, where they regularly go to when they needed an escape to the beach.
Although Peter’s diagnosis is grim, there’s still beauty in it. Just like the time he asked Lisa to marry him—again.
They were watching an episode of “New Girl” when a wedding scene made Lisa cry. Peter saw her tears and laughed before pointing to the screen and telling her, “Let’s do it.”
Peter said, “Let’s get married,” and added that “It’s going to be a lot of work.”
He didn’t even realize that he had just proposed to his wife.
But even if that wasn’t the first time, Lisa loved hearing him say those words.
“It was so touching to me. He fell in love with me twice. I feel honored. I feel like a princess, like Cinderella. I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” she said.
Lisa told her children about the proposal, and they encouraged them to renew their wedding vows. She was hesitant at first but realized that this was an opportunity to create another beautiful memory with Peter.
On April 26, Peter and Lisa—with the help of a dementia specialist who also officiated the ceremony—shared their vows at the altar.
Lisa said she still got “butterflies” while putting her dress on and having her makeup done.
The event turned out to be magical, especially because Peter was “bright and present” the whole day.
Although Lisa knew that Peter could forget who she is again at any moment during the ceremony, it didn’t matter to her.
“I’m his favorite person,” she said. “I don’t need a label, like a wife, or nicknames he used to call me. Our hearts are connected in a way that all I need is for him to feel safe, and he does. And he loves me, and I love him, so that’s all that matters.”
Alzheimer’s disease is so unpredictable, but Lisa is sure of one thing: she and Peter will be together until the end.
Lisa runs a blog to help other families of people with Alzheimer’s. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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