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Alva family surprised with holiday cheer after tragedy

Posted at 11:19 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 23:19:45-05

ALVA, FLA. — September 1, 2018 was the start of a whirlwind romance.

"It was like an immediate connection," said Laurel Wheeler-Marco.

Wheeler-Marco says she still remembers how she responded when she met the other half of that connection, Richard.

"I teased that we complimented each other because I am the bubbly one," Wheeler-Marco.

After ten months of dating, the couple tied the knot in July of 2019.

But in the months after, Laurel noticed that Richard, a navy veteran, became quieter and a little more isolated.

And then, on Veteran's Day, came a shock this newlywed did not see coming.

"I had no idea that four months into the marriage he would take his own life," said Wheeler-Marco.

The loss left Laurel and her two kids grieving and putting up holiday decorations was the last thing on their mind this month.

So, it didn't happen, until neighbors and local law enforcement decided to do it for them on Wednesday night.

After two hours of work, the group was able to reveal their hard work to Laurel's kids, who weren't present for the decorating.

In addition to the lights and cheer, the group also brought presents.

It's a gesture that goes a long way for a family who's still mourning and reminding everyone to look for the signs, even when loved ones decline offers for help.

"You have to realize that if someone is hurting don't take no for an answer," said Wheeler-Marco.

If you are struggling or in need of assistance, please call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.