A brief marriage

Published 11:50 pm Friday, December 30, 2011

Woman dies 10 days after ICU wedding

Bill Slaughter wasn’t looking for love 17 years ago when he was boating on a river in Chesapeake, but he found it when he saw Dawn from across the water.

Married: Dawn Slaughter, seen here with her husband, Bill, passed away Thursday, just 10 days after she married Bill at Sentara Obici Hospital, where she was being treated for liver failure.

A few days later, he took her out to dinner on Mother’s Day, and for the past 17 years, they have been having adventures together.

Their latest adventure was getting married at Sentara Obici Hospital while Dawn was in the Intensive Care Unit being treated for liver failure.

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Bill and Dawn both said it was the right time to do it, but neither knew their marriage would last only 10 days.

Dawn died Thursday morning at the hospital; she was 54 years old.

“I knew she wasn’t doing great,” Bill Slaughter said. “But I wasn’t expecting this.”

The day before she died, he said, she was having a good day.

“I came in like I do everyday and said, ‘Hey, beautiful,’” Slaughter said. “She was sitting up and smiling. She wasn’t perfect, but it was a good sign.”

That day, Dawn even visited and ate lunch with her best friend, but the good mood didn’t last.

“As the day progressed, she started to get worse,” Slaughter said. “The liver was fighting her the whole way.”

On Thursday, he said, he stepped out of her room for a moment, but he noticed her monitors going “berserk.”

Slaughter ran to his new wife’s side to comfort her as the nurses tried to help her.

“I picked her up in my arms and held her as she went,” he said.

While he admits it was a difficult experience, Slaughter was glad he could be with her when she died.

“I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I wasn’t,” Slaughter said. “I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.”

For the past eight years, Dawn worked as a truck driver, a skill she learned from Slaughter.

He said they used to drive his truck as a team, trading shifts on long drives, but a few years ago, she got her own truck.

“She had hers, and I had mine,” he said. “We would cross paths with each other and stop to spend the night together or have dinner.”

Slaughter said Dawn loved being on their boat and traveling whenever possible.

“What was so special about her to me is we made use of the time we had in places,” he said.

Dawn also enjoyed being around the people she loved, he said.

“She liked her friends and being able to have a good time,” Slaughter said. “I’m going to miss her terribly.”

A funeral is planned for Dawn Slaughter next week.