Call it being in the right place at the right time.
That’s how Kenneth Diamond describes his whirlwind experience when he stepped in as a replacement to perform a wedding vow reaffirmation ceremony for a woman who was facing imminent death.
Diamond, a paramedic and captain with Rural Metro Fire in Central Arizona, said it all happened after he was asked to go back into the field temporarily to help with staffing.
“I was on my second shift back on a unit and was scheduled for Rescue 826. I was at the station on March 2 when the chief and public information officer (PIO) were having a meeting with the normal crew. That’s when I overheard the PIO talking on the phone, saying he didn’t know a minister. I spoke up and said I was.”
After that, everything went as clockwork.
“The PIO then asked me if I would be willing to officiate a wedding the following day. I said I would love to. He then arranged it with the chief and got it okayed,” said Diamond, who added that the minister who was originally going to perform the ceremony had to bow out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Then, to add urgency to the matter, Diamond found out the wife, Marcia Villalobos, was dying and there was a possibility of her not making it to the next day.
“Marcia and her husband Fernando first married in 1986. I was told by her family that she isn’t really speaking that much and didn’t know where she was. So, I immediately began planning the event and developed a short ceremony with vows and a ring exchange,” said Diamond.
And to Diamond’s surprise, the ceremony went without a hitch.
“Marcia ended up being able to repeat the vows I told her with clarity,” said Diamond. “She was also able to put the ring on Fernando’s finger without any problem. The whole thing was so emotional and amazing.”
The ceremony, which took place on March 3, 2022, at Frontier Town in Cave Creek also included the presence of the city’s mayor. But city officials or no city officials, the event left a sentimental mark on Diamond that he won’t forget anytime soon.
“On January 27, 2020, my maternal grandmother passed away. She was everything to me and if I could have granted her a last wish, I would have. The ceremony I did for Fernando and Marcia reminds me of her,” said Diamond. “When I was told that it was her (Marcia’s) dying wish to renew her vows, I knew I was there for a reason. It’s amazing when stuff like this happens and it makes us aware that we are here to meet our communities’ needs wherever and whenever we can.”
Diamond’s role in the ceremony also made a huge impression on Fernando and Marcia’s family, who asked him if he would also officiate Marcia’s funeral when the time comes.
“Considering how I teared up as I was reading some of the vows that I had written for her and Fernando’s marriage renewal, I told them, of course, of course, I would.”