After Turning On His Cochlear Implant, the First Thing This Man Heard Was His Partner Proposing

“Before, I knew he loved me, but now? It’s surreal. He’s there.”

Updated 10/03/18

Getty Images

"Will you marry me" are some of the sweetest-sounding words regardless of circumstance, but we bet they sounded even sweeter to this man whose partner proposed at the moment he turned on his cochlear implant for the first time.

Kerry, 37, and his boyfriend Hayward, 27, were on a normal trip to visit family and friends in San Fransisco when the unthinkable happened: Hayward contracted bacterial meningitis, an infection that can lead to a myriad of health problems and in some cases, death.

According to Buzzfeed, after returning home from the trip, Hayward developed painful headaches and sensitivity to light (both symptoms of the disease). His symptoms worsened even after trying to alleviate the pain with medication and he was rushed to the hospital, where he soon lost his vision, hearing, and became paralyzed from the waist down.

After three weeks in the hospital and six months of recovery, Hayward began to regain his vision and mobility, but was still unable to hear. The two learned sign language so they could continue to communicate.

“He would place the ‘I love you’ sign on my leg or on my back, and that’s when I knew I could go to sleep,” Hayward recalled to Buzzfeed.

Hayward recently received a cochlear implant, a device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Hayward still had to recover from the procedure for weeks before the device was turned on, but that was the perfect amount of time for Kerry to plan his proposal.

“We had talked a little bit about getting married—well, signed about it, at least,” Kerry explained. “I wanted the first thing that I said to him to be asking for his hand.”

Kerry called his friends and family to watch the amazing moment once Hayward turned on his implant.

“I was in shock,” Hayward said. “I’m hearing all these click sounds, I’m hearing my brother speak, and I can hear Kerry, and the first thing that comes out of his mouth—it’s this big spiel about what we’ve been through and he’s down on one knee.” Just try not to sob while watching the video here...

Even though the two were always in love, Hayward said the illness made the couple stronger. “Before, I knew he loved me, but now? It’s surreal. He’s there,” Hayward said.

Related Stories