An Ohio native and his fiancÚ say “we do” … and “we won't.”
Caleigh Haber is no stranger to fighting. The 27-year-old San Francisco resident, who has cystic fibrosis, has been fighting all her life—she’s been in and out of hospitals since childhood and even received a double-lung transplant in 2015, which her body began rejecting this January. So when doctors told her she wasn’t a candidate to receive a new set of lungs and suggested palliative care, it only took her and fiancé Bryan Takayama, a Central Ohio native and OSU graduate, one day to make a decision.
“Caleigh looked at me and said, ‘Screw this, I’m not done fighting,’ ” says 25-year-old Takayama. “She’s been fighting her whole life, and she told me, ‘Being home with you gives me reason to fight.’ ”
In true rom-com fashion, the two met at a wedding in 2016—she was a friend of the bride, he of the groom—and immediately clicked. Takayama, who lived in Cleveland at the time, had booked a flight to visit Haber in San Francisco before he left the West Coast that weekend. He moved to San Francisco earlier this year and proposed, even as they worked together to make Haber healthy enough for a spot on the transplant list. When that failed, they decided to make marriage a priority.
Instead of the city hall elopement they expected, an unexpected show of generosity resulted in an impromptu blowout wedding for 120 of their closest family and friends … all planned in about a week.
That’s how, on Oct. 28—the one-year anniversary of their meet-cute—Takayama and Haber found themselves vowing to spend the rest of their lives together … however long or short that time may be.
Haber’s vow’s included an apology—I’m sorry I won’t always be here—which reverberated among guests, says bridesmaid Tiffany Au. “All the couples there were holding each other and re-evaluating the things they fight about—the way they love each other.”
Now, the newlyweds are off to a Hawaiian honeymoon, thanks to crowdfunding efforts by Au. After that, they certainly won’t give up. They’ll keep fighting—to get Haber back on the transplant list, to find alternative therapies, to live their own version of happily ever after.
“If we exhaust all options, we will be happy we tried but will focus on the quality of life with the time we have left,” Takayama says.
Read more about Haber and Takayama’s journey via our sister publication, the Columbus Dispatch, here.