Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

In Sickness and in Health, They Stand by Each Other

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

In Sickness and in Health, They Stand by Each Other

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK WOODS

DawnMarie Macik holds out her hand and shows off the ring.

"He proposed Saturday," she says.

"She still hasn't given me an answer," Jeffrey Babbitt says.

They both are grinning. She has been giving him an answer every day for the last five months. For them, "in sickness and in health" isn't a vow about hypothetical events in the future. And it isn't "from this day forward." It goes to Oct. 6.

But before I explain what happened on that day, I probably should go back to August.

That's when they looked across a room and saw each other. It wasn't exactly love at first sight. It was first sight in 34 years.

Once upon a time, they were high school sweethearts. They moved to Florida together from Indiana. But, in hindsight, they say they were too young. They split up, went their separate ways, married other people. Each had two boys. Each got divorced.

"I hadn't dated for five years," she said. "I said, 'If God wants me to be with somebody, he'll send me somebody.'"

She was beginning to believe maybe God didn't want her to be with anybody. Then her brother bumped into her old sweetheart and invited him to a family wedding.

She was nervous when she saw him again. She compensated by talking and talking, barely taking a breath between rapid-fire sentences. He smiled, leaned over and pecked her on the cheek.

From there, things took off. Within a few months, they were talking about engagement rings.

He told her he let her get away once but he wasn't going to let it happen again. He also told her that life was good, almost too good. He felt like something was going to mess it up.

She was at work on Oct. 6. She remembers thinking it was weird that he didn't call at lunch. He had been doing that nearly every day. Then she got another call.

That morning he had decided to ride his motorcycle to work as a cabinet maker. He was on Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg when a teenager didn't stop at a stop sign, pulling out in front of him.

He doesn't remember any of that day. For that matter, he doesn't remember much of the six weeks in Shands Jacksonville that followed. …

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