When N.Y.C. pastor Jordan Rice (pictured right) and marketing specialist Jessica Moreland (pictured left) married each other on June 22nd, they probably never guessed their union would spring forth from tragedy.
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But it was grave misfortune that brought them together. Moreland’s previous husband, Jarronn, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2009, a mere two-and-a-half months after their wedding.
“His injuries were so serious that the blood had drained out of his body,” said Jessica. “There was too much strain on his heart.”
Eventually, she began dating, unsuccessfully, for the next three years.
Watch a video about Jordan and Jessica’s story:
Jordan’s previous wife, Danielle, fell ill shortly after their wedding; doctors found she had primary cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare heart cancer. An X-ray found that she had fluid around her heart that appeared to be a virus. Danielle died in 2011, barely two years after their marriage and 10 months after the horrifying diagnosis.
“She started really getting worse very quickly,” said Jordan. “Within four days, she couldn’t walk anymore. Her resting heart rate was around 140 beats a minute — lying down.”
“I was miserable,” Jordan said. “I felt out of place … a 27-year-old doesn’t die of cancer. It was very unfair and challenging on every front.”
Eventually, Jordan began dating again, with no results.
In 2012, one of Jordan’s friends sent him a link to Jessica’s blog, One Day At A Time, where she’d posted pictures from her previous wedding and shared its tragic ending. Jordan also happened to be a blogger, and Jessica describing her former spouse reminded him of their shared experience.
“I loved how candid she was,” he told ABC News. “She described the raw emotion that I had felt on so many occasions. … I respected her for honoring his life. How much she adored him was something very powerful to me.”
Jordan decided to “friend” Jessica through Facebook, taking special care to not appear stalkerish. “That’s not my MO,” he said.
Jessica initially ignored his request, until she noticed they had mutual friends from Morgan State, Jordan’s alma matter. “I smiled, but I never responded,” she said.
A few days later, however, she had lunch with a couple who knew Jordan and vouched for him as a good guy. She decided to look up his blog and offered him consolation, knowing what he was going through.
“I was a little further along the path — I was three years out and he was only at a year and a half — and I told him you never get over it, but you learn to live with it,” said Jessica.
The two began trading text messages and eventually developed a bond. Jordan decided to visit Jessica in Washington, D.C. Their departed spouses became an emotional talking point.
“I cried as he was talking, and he got emotional as I was talking,” said Jessica. “He invited me to get together the next day.” On that second day, they had a six-hour date, where Jessica felt something.
“I can’t really say when or why during that conversation, but there was a period where I was looking at him, and I thought, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ I could not believe what was happening,” she said. “When he left, I was flabbergasted. I knew my life was about to turn upside down.”
For Jordan, though, he already knew that Jessica was the one, “I knew, 100 percent, this was it.”
Watch Jessica and Jordan’s story here:
Things progressed rapidly after their initial meetings. They introduced their families to each other and knew marriage was imminent. So they underwent premarriage counseling with a counselor Jordan had used after Danielle’s death, passing an assessment test with flying colors.
“Either you guys are the kind of people who anticipate the other person’s answer or you are the most compatible couple I have ever seen,” the counselor said.
The newlyweds plan on moving to New York City, where Jordan currently preaches in Harlem, and they couldn’t be happier.
“We always laugh,” said Jordan. “I stare in to her eyes and feel so incredibly connected and hope and pray we have a long life together — though, that is not always promised.”
“Who has a man like this? Really, he can’t be real. No man is like this, so very loyal and caring, supportive and principled,” Jessica-whose last name is now also Rice-added.
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