BEEVILLE, Texas — Valentine's Day is the day we celebrate love, and for one Beeville couple, it was truly tested in sickness and in health.
"I started singing to her, and she looked at me, and she was smiling, and then it wasn't until I got down on one knee. You know she broke down. She broke down crying because she had no clue," Raul Perez said.
It didn't start that way for Michelle and Raul Perez.
"He realized I was new and introduced himself cause he's just lovely and kind and "Oh, hey, you're new here. I'm Raul, and I work in X-ray," Michelle said.
The two from Beeville met at the hospital they worked at.
"I just felt so comfortable around him and always joking and just this big kid," Michelle said.
The couple became instant friends, but soon Michelle moved away.
"I ended up finishing nursing school, and I ended up moving back and came back to the hospital," Michelle said.
This time something was different.
"We met at, " the couple said. "There was a fourth of July event. That's right, and it was the Fourth of July."
Together with their children, they watched the fireworks while also feeling sparks themselves.
"We kind of let go and just let it happen. We went with it, and We loved being around each other," the couple said.
Soon they became a family of seven.
"Everybody seemed to click. We just kept talking, and before you knew it. It was a full-blown relationship," Raul said.
Amid love was unbearable pain and exhaustion Michelle struggled with.
"It's hard to explain things weren't just right. I would fall asleep almost driving sometimes, or I would be, and so the doctors just kept telling me there's no way you could feel like that. You're just a busy mom of three active boys. There's no way you could feel like that," Michelle said.
Michelle went to the doctor, trying to figure out what was wrong.
"Nobody would believe me except for him. And he would take me to see a different doctor," Michelle said.
Different doctors and different diagnoses, and just when Michelle was ready to give up, Raul fought for her to keep going.
"Five doctors later, I finally got a diagnosis that I have MS multiple sclerosis," Michelle said.
It's a degenerative disease of the nervous system.
"It affects everybody differently...It's cognitive impairment.. pain everywhere," Michelle said.
"With multiple sclerosis, the immune system accidentally attacks the protective cloth that covers the nerve fibers called myelin, causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
"I have a lot of issues with my balance and stuff like that I have a lot of weakness. I have really bad tremors. I have a lot of bad vision impairment. So the disease has progressed aggressively," Michelle said.
Michelle was relieved that she finally got a diagnosis but terrified at what it meant. Michelle says she started to push Raul away.
"You don't deserve this. Your kid doesn't deserve this. You need to go. You're young, and you need somebody to go have fun with," Michelle said.
Raul refused, also pushing back, staying by her side.
"No one should have to go through this alone. And I was about to let her go through it alone," Raul said. "I stayed because I loved her. I love her."
Raul wanted to make it official.
"I wanted to get married to and spend the rest of our lives together. You're gonna make me cry," Raul said.
So during Christmas, while visiting family in Houston, Raul popped the question.
"I cried and cried. In the video, you can see that I just lost it. I lost it, but I was shocked. I was so so happy," Michelle said.
Through her tears, Michelle said yes, and a year later, surrounded by their family and loved ones, they tied the knot.
"She helped me be a better person. She's helped me see that there's more to life than just you know what I see in front of me," Raul said.
The couple says they love to travel and go on adventures with their children.
"We cook breakfast together. We cook dinner together," Michelle said.
Michelle knows she won't be able to do the things they enjoy forever.
"There are days when I literally, can't get out of bed without his help. There are days when I can't shower without his help. I've had to teach myself how to eat without my left hand because my right-hand doesn't work. You know it's a challenge," Michelle said.
Even though every day, different challenges.
"I have daily medicine that I have to take. I have shots three times a week. It's supposed to slow the progression down," Michelle said.
Michelle and Raul's love for one another continues to blossom.
"I don't think I could have gotten through it without him. There were times when I wanted to give up, and the only reason I haven't is because of him," Michelle said.
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