A young couple still battling to recover from serious injuries they suffered in the Boston Marathon bombings is taking their relationship to another level: they’re getting married.
Pete DiMartino, 28, asked Rebekah Gregory, 26, on Friday if she would tie the knot with him, about one year after the couple started dating. He got down on one knee, alongside her wheelchair, and proposed with a ring he had custom-made in the months after the April 15 attack that killed three people and wounded 275 others.
“I said, ‘You’re my best friend and I love you.' I couldn’t get anything else out, I was shaking,” DiMartino, of Rochester, N.Y., said from Gregory’s hometown of Richmond, Tex.
The couple, who knew even before the bombings that they had each found their life partner, said their relationship deepened after what they’d been through that harrowing day – and ever since.
DiMartino, who lost 90 percent of his right Achilles' tendon and suffered multiple broken bones in his ankles, has spent months in physical therapy working to walk again. He has also had surgery on a ruptured eardrum.
Gregory, who has had 14 surgeries as she still battles to keep her left leg, can’t bear weight on the injured limb and has faced the possibility of amputation many times. She had to stop rehabilitation, which she briefly began in the summer, so doctors could attach a device to her lower left leg – that's drilled into the bone – in the hopes of making it functional.
If that doesn’t work, she could face amputation once more.
“Going through an experience like the marathon makes you realize how short life really is and how we don’t really know how much time we have left. And I know that with my time there is nobody else I would want to spend it with,” Gregory said of her fiancé, who she met while on a work trip to Rochester. “It made me realize how much I cared about him and how much he was the only person for me.”
“I think it kind of helped me to see what an amazing woman she is and how strong she is. … So I had to jump on it before somebody else did,” DiMartino said, flashing a big grin.
The couple is forging ahead with other big plans, too: construction has begun on their home in Richmond, Tex., where Gregory is recovering with her son Noah, 6, who was hurt in the attacks. DiMartino is also aiming to walk or even run in an upcoming 5K, and he is planning for his move to Texas, hopefully before their home is ready in January.
Though Gregory is in a lot of pain because of the device, which aims to rotate her left leg into the correct position so she can walk on it, the pair plan to celebrate: they’ll crack open a bottle of champagne that Gregory was given by a nurse who treated her in Boston before she was medically evacuated to Houston.
They’re hoping to marry within a year but say it won’t be a big to-do.
“We have been through enough stress this year so this wedding is going to be the least stressful thing,” Gregory said. “We’re marrying each other, that’s all that matters.”
Do you have a Boston Marathon story? Share it with reporter Miranda Leitsinger at email@example.com or on Facebook