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Meet the People #FightingALS
with the Brigance Brigade Foundation

Rachael James

I met the love of my life, Hunter, in August 2017. That same month, my parents moved to their dream cabin in the mountains of eastern North Carolina. 2018 was a year full of love and new beginnings. 2019, however, was different.

In the first few months of the year, my mom experienced hints of her illness. Doctor visits ensued with fearful chatter of a diagnosis of ALS. ALS is a territory of the unknown. Deep, dark waters of both ending and infinity. Of nothing and everything at once. We did not want to accept ALS as a possibility and sought out other explanations.

In June 2019, Hunter proposed to me on the top of a mountain. I will remember that moment forever. It was perfect! Wedding plans were set for April 25, 2020. It was going to be something great that we could
all look forward to! A big wedding of 300 guests in a grand lodge filled with family and friends.

December 2, 2019, Mom was diagnosed with ALS. It was the tragedy we saw coming until it hit us. I transition to working part-time so I could be with mom full-time at home. She needed assistance in some ways, but largely she needed company and love. The sadness was overwhelming. She’s my best friend and I knew we needed each other to pull through this.

In March 2020, with a blink of an eye, the entire world shuts down due to COVID-19. Wedding plans get rescheduled for September 2020. It was a devastating thing to do, but we had no choice. Everything (marriage, having babies, buying a house) is now delayed. Who knew at this juncture if mom would make it to September to see me get married? Heartbroken is an underrated word for what we had been looking forward to for so long.

On April 25th, 2020 (our wedding date) we said, “I Do” at a small church that I had never even been to before. It was perfect, just the 10 of us with the preacher. I bought a $40 dress online to wear for the occasion. It was so important to me to have mom there, so I wasn’t willing to risk delaying my wedding. Honeymoon plans to Disney had to be rescheduled, so we camped in our living room to celebrate. That was perfect too.

Our acceptance of this disease creates a louder voice within us to encourage us to make each day count. Frankly, I never would have thought this would be how the last year would go.

Despite the amount of tears I’ve cried and the disappointments we’ve faced, I would not change the circumstances, as hard as it is to say such a thing. My faith has grown and the love between both my family and I and Hunter and I has grown tremendous amounts.

I hope that my story inspires you to believe, to persevere, and to never give up. To know that at various times in your life you may not have much, but there’s hope, faith, and love to be found. Always. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.

With Love, Rachael