First Thing Man Hears After Receiving A Cochlear Implant Is A Marriage Proposal

"I never imagined that he would have popped the question, but I’m so thrilled to call him my future."

After Hayward Duresseau met Kerry Kennedy at a Mardi Gras celebration in 2015, Duresseau knew he'd found the love of his life. "My intentions were for me to propose to him," he told A Plus via email. A little over three years into their relationship, however, life intervened. 

While on a family vacation to San Francisco this past February, Duresseau contracted bacterial meningococcal meningitis. Upon his return to Lafayette, La., where the couple lives, exhaustion suddenly overcame him. He didn't think much of it, not even when he woke up the next morning, put on his glasses, and wasn't able to see. Instead, Duresseau thought his prescription had changed, according to NBC News

As the day worn on, so did his physical symptoms. That night, as the couple shared a Valentine's Day dinner, Duresseau dealt with a persistent headache, despite taking migraine medication. By the next morning, Kennedy was forced to rush a "violently ill" Duresseau to the emergency room. 

Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy celebrating Mardi Gras 
Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy celebrating Mardi Gras, where the couple first met.  Courtesy of Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy

Duresseau told the publication that doctors first treated him for what they believed was an eye condition. The treatment resulted in his near-complete hearing loss, but soon after, the doctors realized he had meningitis. The couple put their lives — and wedding plans — on hold to prioritize Duresseau's recovery. "Everything was put on a back burner," he told A Plus. "While laying in my death bed, I was thinking to myself that if he stays through this that I would most definitely ask for his hand." 

Of those two thoughts, he would be right about one of them. 

Couple standing together on balcony 
Courtesy of Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy

Throughout his recovery, Duresseau depended on Kennedy and his family for help with walking, going up and down stairs, and bathing. But no matter what challenges came Duresseau's way, Kennedy was ready to face them. "Kerry was my backbone and my healer. He supported me emotionally, physically, and spiritually," Duresseau recalled. 

Friends offered their support to the couple as well. After reading about their situation on Facebook, Racheal Brown, a sign language interpreter, put together a book of American Sign Language phrases and vocabulary and started teaching the couple how to communicate in a new language. 

Couple saying "I love you" in American Sign Language
Duresseau and Kennedy saying "I love you" in American Sign Language Courtesy of Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy

Six months after his diagnosis, Duresseau's doctors deemed him healthy enough to undergo cochlear implant surgery to combat his hearing loss. After the successful surgery, the first thing Duresseau heard was Kennedy's marriage proposal.

"It's been kind of a long journey to get to this point, but I'm glad that we were able to do it together. I want to keep doing these things with you and helping you as much as I can because I know you help me," Kennedy said in the above video. "So… will you marry me?" 

Through both laughter and tears, Duresseau said yes. The newly engaged couple then embraced for a kiss and a hug. 

"I always knew he was kind of leery of getting married because we felt it was still too soon. We have a lot of things going on business-wise, I never imagined that he would have popped the question, but I'm so thrilled to call him my future," Duresseau explained. "... It was a very special moment, and I wouldn't have asked for it any other way." 

The couple certainly weren't the only ones who think their love story is something special. Duresseau's brothers and Kerry's family were "extremely thrilled and happy" for them, as were more than 19,000 others who viewed the proposal video on Facebook. Though Kennedy originally posted the video on August 8, it has since gained viral attention in the last 24 hours after Kennedy reshared the post to his Facebook timeline. 

Newly engaged couple 
Courtesy of Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy

Now, the to-be-weds hope their video raises awareness of "the current LGBTQ+ community issues" in Lafayette, specifically in regards to individual and organizational plans to protest "Drag Queen Story Time" at South Louisiana Community College's Lafayette Parish Library. Local law enforcement informed the school of these security concerns, who then stated that the event "cannot be held on campus" to prioritize "the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors to its campuses." Currently, the Lafayette Public Library and Delta Lambda Phi Fraternity (who planned the event) have postponed Drag Queen Story Time until they can find another venue. 

"I want the world to know that we are here and that love in all forms is beautiful," Duresseau said. "We can all exist in one place with a variation in differences, but love and acceptance is the only way for the future growth of Lafayette, La!"  


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