The First Words This Man Heard After Regaining His Hearing Was His Partner's Proposal

by Candice Jalili

As terrified as I am of marriage in general, I must say I love a good proposal story. For the most part, proposals tend to be the same. One partner gets down on one knee and pops the question at some sort of sentimental location and, well, that's about it. But one recent proposal packed on an extra level of sentiment that's guaranteed to make your heart melt. You see, Kerry proposed to Hayward after he received cochlear implants.

Some backstory. Kerry, 37, and Hayward, 27, have been dating for three years. Earlier this year, they were visiting family in San Francisco when Hayward contracted bacterial meningitis that left him paralyzed from the hips down with impaired vision. After a three-week-long stay at the hospital working to recover his mobility and eyesight, Hayward was well enough to return home. He had lost his hearing permanently.

"In a relationship, communication is key, you know? We were left without communication for about six months," Kerry told BuzzFeed News. Hayward described the time to BuzzFeed News as "being in jail" within his own mind. “I could see everything that was going on — I could communicate, but the world couldn’t communicate back with me," he told the publication.

In order to communicate, the pair learned American Sign Language. “He would place the ‘I love you’ sign on my leg or on my back, and that’s when I knew I could go to sleep,” Hayward told BuzzFeed News.

Finally, after months of being unable to hear, there was some light at the end of the tunnel for Hayward. He underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant, a device that would replace the function of his damaged inner ear, leaving him able to hear again.

For Kerry, this opportunity sounded like the perfect time to pop the question. He got approval from the audiologist, got his family and friends together and decided to start planning the big proposal.

“We had talked a little bit about getting married — well, signed about it, at least,” Kerry explained to BuzzFeed News. “I wanted the first thing that I said to him to be asking for his hand.”

"I was in shock,” Hayward told BuzzFeed News of the proposal. “I’m hearing all these click sounds, I’m hearing my brother speak, and I can hear Kerry, and the first thing that comes out of his mouth — it’s this big spiel about what we’ve been through and he’s down on one knee.”

Watch the adorable video for yourself here:

While going through an experience like this could force many couples to crumble under the pressure, Hayward and Kerry actually believe the experience made their relationship stronger. "Before, I knew he loved me, but how? It's surreal," he Hayward told BuzzFeed News. "He's there."

Moreover, the experience gave him a newfound love of life. "I'll stop and smell the roses, so to speak," he told BuzzFeed News.

Oh man, I love myself a happy ending. Congrats to the lovely couple!

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