|Jessica Powell (left) and Crystal Craven (right) hold hands on their wedding day in Laurel, Miss.|
Crystal wore a cowboy hat to conceal her surgery scars. Photo by Cassidi Bush.
In February, Crystal Craven married the love of her life, Jessica Powell, in Laurel, Mississippi. They celebrated their love in a wedding ceremony in front of family and friends, just like any other couple dreams of doing. Even the local controversy their wedding caused couldn't stop them from celebrating their love. But a month later after Crystal married the love of her life, Crystal would die from the stage 4 brain cancer she'd been battling for over a year. Crystal passed away Monday, March 11.
When I first blogged about the hateful backlash the Laurel Leader-Call received after the initial story about Crystal and Jessica's wedding, so many of you came forth with an awesome outpouring of love I can't even describe. You donated to the Laurel Leader-Call in droves, people from all over the world payed for subscriptions of a small Mississippi paper a world away just to say, "Thanks." Emails and physical letters poured in from around the world, so much, in fact, that in days the letters of love outnumbered the hate mail 500-1. You all did the global gay community – and the global love community – proud. Oh, and, did I mention, the Leader-Call is going to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for the bravery they showed in covering this story? The Laurel Leader-Call thanks you so, so very much, as do I.
But now, the Laurel Leader-Call has another request – this time for Crystal's family. From Laurel Leader-Call writer Cassidi Bush, who followed Crystal and Jessica's story:
"Crystal was only 34-years-old and she didn't have insurance, so her family will have a hard time paying funeral expenses. We really appreciated the new subscribers supporting us, but we would love to share that support with Crystal's family. Donations can be made to Colonial Chapel Funeral Home in Laurel, Miss."You can send gifts, flowers, and cards through the funeral home page here. But what Crystal's family really needs are monetary donations to help cover funeral costs. You can do this by calling Colonial Chapel Funeral Home at 601-649-3342 or by contacting them at the address: 4593 Indian Springs Road, Laurel, MS, 39441.
For now, you can read a selection from this beautiful followup article written by Cassidi Bush earlier this month. In the article, Jessica explained why Crystal had made the choice to stop fighting her cancer:
Crystal Craven, 34, and Jessica Powell, 24, had a wedding ceremony in downtown Laurel on Feb. 2. Even though they're in a state that doesn't legally recognize same-sex marriages, they wanted to have a public celebration of their love. Craven, who has Stage 4 brain cancer, wore a cowboy hat to cover scars from recent surgeries and treatments.
About a week later – as an article about their "Historic Wedding" was on local newsstands – Craven was feeling weak on her left side and continued to have headaches. The couple went to the hospital and Craven's surgeon ordered a CAT scan. The results came back with bad news. The tumor on Craven's right side had come back, and there is a new one on the left side.
Craven had a decision to make: Should she try chemo again or live out her remaining days at home? The decision has been tough on both women.
"Crystal told me that she was tired of hurting, tired of being sick and tired of fighting," Powell said. "Of course we cried about it, but she decided not to do chemo again, and I have to respect that." [...]
"We have so much support from other states," Powell said. "The world can't get better unless change is in it."
"Powell said she and Craven were not trying to make a political statement – they were just trying to make a public expression of their love. [...]
Powell said she doesn't want to think about life without Craven, but faced with the realities of cancer, she knows she has to.
"After this is over, I'm going to do me and hang out with my son," Powell said. "I've already been with the person I was supposed to be with, and some people never get that chance. I'm grateful for the time I have spent with her."
She recalled their wedding day: "My vow to her was forever, not until death do us part."How could you not cry? Please, if you have anything to spare – and I already know that many of you have huge hearts – please, one more time, help them out. They've been through a lot, but through it all, they shined a light in a state full of darkness. Let's shine our light right back at them as they go through this dark time.