To fall in love once and marry your best friend is an amazing feeling, a dream come true. Falling in love a second time, after all your
dreams are tragically shattered, and marrying the love of your life is even more amazing. That is the story of us, Eileen Bellew and
In January 2005, Eileen's world was instantly turned upside down. Her husband of 10 years, John Bellew, one of New York City's Bravest, lost his life in a catastrophic fire, which was known as Black Sunday. Married in July 1995, Eileen and John had a life full of love, and 4 beautiful children, ages 6, 3, 2, and 5 months at the time of John's death. She was on maternity leave from her job as a science teacher in Pearl River, NY. Eileen not only raised her own children as a working mom, but she inspired and encouraged children throughout the community as a teacher, and the positive impact she left on many students is still evident today, even though she has been unable to return to the classroom. Eileen was at home on January 23, 2005, a freezing cold, snowy day when her attention was drawn to a special TV report of a horrific fire in the Bronx, NY, and serious injuries to firemen who responded to the blaze. She was chilled by what she was hearing. Worse, she was unable to get information on John's status, knowing he was at the fire. Fearing her worst nightmare, Eileen was soon on her way to St. Barnabas Hospital, with pictures of her 4 young children in hand. When she arrived, the terror and uncertainty she feared gripped and shook her to her core. A short time later, John succumbed to his injuries, and their life's plans and dreams were immediately and irrevocably shattered. In an instant, the wonderful world she knew just hours before was thrown into complete chaos. She returned home, devastated and heartbroken, only to face another unimaginable hurdle; telling her children their daddy would not be coming home again. One by one she delivered the message to each of them and began preparing for the seemingly impossible future awaiting her in that instant. Inspired by her four young children, her little angels, Eileen kept her family moving forward despite the difficulty, sadness, and emptiness surrounding her on a daily basis. Over the last six years, she has watched her two daughters and her two sons grow and mature into wonderful, well adjusted children, all while reminding them of John's courage and bravery, and the many great traits he displayed as a father.
In January 2009, Kevin's world was also toppled. Immediately following his graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1987, he married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth. They were married for 21 years, when Liz succumbed to a long term illness, a rare autoimmune disease called Scleroderma that eroded her quality of life over a 5 year period. Kevin and Liz also lived a life full of love and happiness, with 3 fantastic children who were 20, 16, and 13, when their world crumbled. In the 5 years prior to her death, Kevin was Liz's primary care giver as she steadily lost her independence and her ability to do everyday tasks we all take for granted. He was beside her throughout, offering encouragement even when various medical options failed. But he was not alone; his children were also excellent caregivers. The sacrifices they all made over that five year period contributed to Liz maintaining a positive attitude and happy disposition despite the limitations Scleroderma placed on her and her family. Liz was also a teacher and worked with children at summer camps for many years, but her illness made it impossible for her to continue doing what she loved, being around children. On January 3, 2009, the physical toll Scleroderma took on Liz proved too much. Kevin's worst fears had arrived. He gathered up his children at the hospital, and sitting on the floor before them, told them all medical options were exhausted and the miracle they wished for was not going to be realized. Their mother was dying. A short time later, they gathered at her bedside as she peacefully passed away. Kevin, too, drew inspiration from his children, and collectively they have moved forward in the midst of the same difficulty, sadness, and emptiness the Bellew family endured. In that time, his oldest daughter completed college and her master's degree, while his son earned an athletic scholarship to college, and his youngest daughter is near finishing high school. They are everyday reminders of Liz's courage and the great attributes she embodied as a mother.
Although Eileen and Kevin grew up in the same small town, and were only 5 years apart, they had not previously met. Both knew full well the tragedies each other and their children endured as a result of losing a spouse and a parent. In late 2009, Eileen and Kevin met and enjoyed each other's company over a casual dinner, unaware something very special was happening. Soon after, they fell in love. They have had the overwhelmingly awesome experience of finding in each other, the person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with, despite the enormous losses each endured. In each other they found soul mates with whom to build new dreams with, and to spend Happily Ever After with. They also found in each other, the future was once again something to embrace and look forward to with happiness and excitement, instead of fear. Theirs is the ultimate love story and they sealed their commitment to each other this past May when they got engaged.
Eileen, Kevin, and their families, frequently look to the sky for mindful and loving signs from John, who sends Rainbows, and Liz, who sends soaring Hawks. Those loving signs tell them John and Liz are always nearby, looking out for them, and reminding them of happy times, past-present-and future. They often remind each other, sometimes through tears, how lucky they were to have had John and Liz in their lives, even if it was for too short a time.
Eileen & Kevin are most deserving of a Hawaiian Dream Wedding. Despite the horrible tragedies that befell them and their families, and sent them into emotional free falls, they have rallied, collected themselves, stayed positive, and risen up to dream again. Smile on them and send them soaring in the Rainbow state, Hawaii, for the Wedding of a Lifetime.