Love One Another

Mon Feb 14 10:00:29 EST 2022
Episode 81

When Alexis, a teenager battling cancer, learns that a new boy named Ricky is in the same unit of the hospital as her, she expects him to be a sweet child like the other patients she’s befriended. To her surprise, however, Ricky is a tall, handsome teen. A friendship develops between the two amidst their chemo treatments and years of relapses and recoveries. Their bond eventually leads to marriage and a life of supporting and loving each other even with the myriad of unknowns they face with their health, each learning all the forms true Christlike love can take.

Show notes:
Read more about Ricky and Alexis’s experiences on Ricky’s blog: Life as the Stafford’s

Other articles featuring Ricky and Alexis:

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Erika Free 0:03

Welcome to "This Is the Gospel." An LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day.

I'm Erika Free, and I'm so excited to be hosting this episode today that is all about love, because it's Valentine's Day here in the US. And I don't know about you, but I've always kind of liked Valentine's Day. It is not because I always have a significant other to celebrate with or anything–I'm actually usually single for Valentine's Day, but I still enjoy it.

And I think for me, it started all the way back in elementary school. So I don't know about you, but my elementary school in the States, we would decorate these boxes and hang them at the at the end of our desks and walk around and give out candy to each other, and so you'd go home with so much candy and I thought it was the best holiday ever.

So later, when I was on my own in college, I remember wanting to make Valentine's Day special for the people around me. I just would buy chocolates and give them out to my friends I would write little notes and wear pink and red and I just really loved celebrating love.

And I started to see Valentine's Day, not as a day to celebrate romantic love only, but as a day where you can celebrate all different types of love. And that includes love for coworkers, love for family, love for friends, love for a significant other–if you have one–or even love for Christ and the gospel.

And we have the perfect story for you today that touches on all those different types of love and what they can mean to someone.

Our storytellers for today are Ricky and Alexis. Okay, so I knew Ricky from back in high school, he played basketball with my little brother. He and his wife just celebrated their third anniversary last September. Both Ricki and Alexis are cancer survivors, and even though they've survived cancer, they still struggle with various health problems. So to help keep Alexis as comfortable as possible, we recorded at their house instead of a studio where we usually record so you might catch some background noise of their home life. I think it just adds a great atmosphere for their story.

So without further ado, here are Ricky and Alexis.

Ricky 2:13

Do you want to go?

Alexis 2:13

Do you want me to start?

Ricky 2:13

Go ahead.

Alexis 2:13

Okay. So we met in March of 2016, we were in the clinic at Primary Children's. I had neuroblastoma which is cancer of the nerves. And he had leukemia, he had ALL. And I was walking to my room, I had just had a pretty major surgery, a 12 hour surgery, about a month prior. And so I was just learning how to walk again. My scar was bright red, it cuts across my diaphragm and down my entire stomach.

So anyways, I was getting to my room, my nurse was taking me to my room. And from the room across from mine I heard "Hotline Bling" by Drake. It was when it first came out and I was like, "Oh, I like this song." And the nurse was like, "Have you ever met Ricky?" and I was expecting you know, a little, a little five year old boy who's bald, and this six foot two, tall, handsome, dark haired guy comes out and starts dancing and making me laugh.

And we start talking and I started asking him questions. I asked him what cancer he had and–

Ricky 3:39

She was checking if I was legit.

Alexis 3:42

Yeah, I was getting some credit first.

Ricky 3:44

She was checking if I was really a cancer kid.

Alexis 3:44

Yeah, I needed to make sure that he was a legit cancer kid. And not just–it threw me off because he had hair. And usually that's not something you see on the cancer unit. And so he pulled down, he had a port scar that's kind of in the middle of his chest.

And instead of just pulling his shirt down from the top, he lifts it up, showing all of his abs.

Ricky 4:10


Alexis 4:11

And you know, as a 15 year old girl, I'm like, "Oh, my goodness." And it worked.

Ricky 4:16

Strategy worked.

Alexis 4:16

I knew exactly what he was doing but it worked. And I was like, "I love this boy. I need to–I need to follow him. I need to see what he's doing." And I stalked his Instagram, stalked his Facebook, and then I was thinking and I was like, "Okay, what can I say? What is how can I start a conversation with him? What can I say?"

And so the pickup line that I decided on was, "Hey, have you ever had radiation?" and–

Ricky 4:46

Still the cheesiest pickup line to this day. Still disappointed, I'm not gonna lie.

Alexis 4:52


Ricky 4:55

I think the–one of the funnier parts that she's actually pretty excited to talk about that she missed though is that she mentions me lifting my shirt up to show her my abs obviously. And I have a tiny, tiny port scar.

Alexis 5:08

Just about two inches, that's what I was saying, that's right. So it was about two inches.

Ricky 5:14

You got it. Go ahead, this is the part that you like to tell, I just wanted to remind you.

Alexis 5:17

Thank you. So two inches, and he pulled his shirt up and showed all of his abs. And I was like, "Yeah, I have one of those." And my port was accessed at the time, I was like, "I have one of those." And I was like, "But I have this too." And I showed him my scar that was brand new all across my, all across my stomach. And he was like, "Oh, yours is way cooler" and immediately put his shirt down.

Ricky 5:41

Very humbling experience right away. Right away.

Alexis 5:46


And then we became best friends and Ricky would come and visit me. Even though he was super busy with basketball and high school and just teenage life.

Ricky 5:57

As a teenager, you're always looking for somebody to like be around, especially at that time, I was looking for just a friend. Because I'm at Primary Children's, and there's only kids.

Alexis 6:09

Not very many teenagers.

Ricky 6:09

And just so happened to be that Lexi was one of the older patients and she was beautiful–like she was bald, she was really, really skinny. But there was just this, this, it just beamed from her. This love and beauty. And it's really hard to describe it.

Because like she didn't have any eyelashes, you know, she was looking like she was really beat up, obviously. But that quality of just love was undeniable. And that's what drew me to her initially. And then as we spend time together as my visits, you know, were more frequent the relationship and the personalities start to develop and . . . but yeah, she's always, always had a very, very phenomenal way of just showing love, even without words. And that's what drew me to her initially.

Alexis 7:15

What drew me into Ricky was his goofiness and his ability to just laugh when things are hard. That was something that I always knew I needed in my eternal companion, because I knew my life was gonna be hard. And I needed somebody who could make me laugh every day.

So that was probably the biggest thing that stood out to me when I first met you. But now I could list a million things that I love about you. And it grows every day.

So he left on a mission to Boston, Massachusetts, an LDS mission. And we emailed every week, and just as best friends, and then he relapsed eight months in and I–he got transferred to New York because he wasn't healthy enough to–he wasn't healthy enough to fly home.

I flew out to New York to make sure he was okay. And then he kissed me in the hospital bed, in New York and we started dating and then 10 months later we were married.

Ricky 8:32

The thing is that like mine and Lexi's relationship, before I left on my mission was nothing more than just straight–a friendship. Somebody who understood what we'd been through.

Alexis 8:46

Yeah, we were really close friends.

Ricky 8:46

And while I was on my mission–I was about four months into my mission, I had a moment where I realized that I was gonna marry her. And I was honestly pretty frustrated. I'm four months into my mission like don't give me these thoughts, don't do this to me, you know, I just just barely gotten to a new area trying to get focused. And I was like I got too much on my plate to worry about this girl that's at least 20 months away. It just was undeniable I couldn't couldn't shake it. You know. And so I just learned to embrace it.

And it was a great motivating factor for me, obviously not realizing how soon I was going to be home. It was planted there pretty early on so that I could make that preparation when that time came. So a little bit, a little bit cheesy, but when she showed up in New York, I was . . . I was excited.

Alexis 9:41

He got a little bit teary eyed and gave me a hug.

Ricky 9:44

I've always been very cautious in relationships.

Alexis 9:45

I surprised him by the way. I don't know if I said that, it was a surprise.

Ricky 9:48

Yeah, it was. But she like–she talks about the kiss like, casually, like that was a big deal for me.

Alexis 9:55

It was yeah.

Ricky 9:56

Like I didn't–that was me saying I'm here. I'm in. Full send. And it stuck, obviously. Luckily, for me.

Alexis 10:08

he didn't tell me by the way that he knew he was gonna marry me and like he didn't fill me in. And so he kissed me, and then as soon as he kissed me, I knew that that was who I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

And even a few months after we started dating, I was like, going to the temple and I was trying to, like, "Heavenly Father, do I need to marry him?" Or you know, and it was like, right away I got the affirmation like, "You already know. Why are you asking?" And so ever since then–

Ricky 10:41

But she makes that–she makes herself seem so innocent in that moment. Like I'm gonna throw her under the bus here.

Alexis 10:47


Ricky 10:47

But I made my intentions very clear.

Alexis 10:49

He did.

Ricky 10:49

As soon as I had the chance–

Alexis 10:51

Our first date.

Ricky 10:51

No, I'm gonna tell this because I'm still hurt by it today.

Alexis 10:56


No you're not.

Ricky 10:56

I took her on a date and we've been on dates before and in obviously we have a good time together. But this particular day, we were just driving and I just turned over and I looked at her said, "I'm gonna marry you," just blunt as I'll get out right? Just like–"This is happening."

And she straight up stone cold looked me in the eyes and said, "Yeah, we'll see about that." And that was so crushing. Like, I've just put it all on the line. I literally made this clearer than day and you're gonna say "We'll see about that."

Alexis 11:29

Scared me a little bit.

Ricky 11:30

Still a little bit hurt by it. But that's okay.

Alexis 11:34

No, you're not.

Ricky 11:35

Yes I am. Anyway.

Alexis 11:42

So, Ricky, like I said, he had relapsed, and it wasn't looking good. And he was getting ready for a bone marrow transplant. And I remember a couple people asked me, after we got engaged, they were like, "Well, what if he dies?" You know, "How do you know?" "How do you know he's gonna be okay?"

And I told thm I don't. I don't know that he's gonna be okay. But I know that Heavenly Father needs us to be together. And he needs us to be together right now.

Ricky 12:14

I love that. I love the way you said that.

Alexis 12:17

He had just finished treatment when we got married. So we got married in September and so he was still–his body was so pretty, pretty tired from treatment it–his hair was growing back.

Ricky 12:31

I still was on chemo pills. So it's not like I was completely–I was done with the hospital stays but I still had to do the the maintenance phase of keeping everything at bay. And I did that for probably a year and a half, almost two years after we were married.

For me I'm a very realistic and logical soul. Lexi's very, very good with faith. I have faith. My mind is very like–alright. The doctors say this, you know, that's likely going to happen. So going into marriage with Lexi was never scary. But that realization of we're probably not going to be that couple on our front porch in a rocking chair at eighty like that–that was real, you know, and still to this day, we don't know what the heck's gonna happen. If we make it to that–great, that would be wonderful.

Alexis 13:26

That's awesome.

Ricky 13:26

But just our bodies sustainability and everything is not that of healthy people. There's been multiple times throughout the course of our marriage where the doctors have come to me and say said, "Don't expect her to make it through the night." And as a . . . as a human that messes with you, right?

And so, my, my emotional and my mental and spiritual state at times have been pretty shot. Because I've seen her in some extremely vulnerable and painful states. And I've had my moments of just saying, "Why in the world are you sticking around?" Not because I don't want her here with me, but because watching her suffer is so hard.

And it's a selfish thing to say, like, "Hey, yeah, how about you're done so that I don't have to watch you suffer anymore." And looking back on it there's been times where I was so broken and so sad that that seemed to me the only way that things would get better. And that's not a very fun thing to go through. It's not a very thing fun thing to process and it never gets easier to have the doctors come say, "Hey, she's not going to make it."

You know all the other things aside, I love being married to her. I love having her as a companion. My greatest joy is my wife. And I've never seen somebody more Christlike.

Alexis 15:08

That's really sweet.

Ricky 15:08

Watching her every single day is joyous to me. And the traits that she has, I think being her cheerleader and watching her is the most fun thing.

Alexis 15:24

He's the best cheerleader.

Ricky 15:26

Thank you.

Alexis 15:27

He really is.

Ricky 15:27

I have cheer moves too.

Alexis 15:29

He does. Dance moves that made me fall in love with him.

Ricky 15:32

Oh, yeah.

Alexis 15:34

It's just fun, to experience life with him. To experience the joy, to experience the pain. We are insanely grateful. We're grateful for every day that we have with each other. And that's something that we did in . . . that we've kind of learned while we're going through the trials is, every moment with each other is so special.

We're not, you know, like, I've really grown as a wife, to where, you know, if Ricky like, doesn't wash his clothes, or, you know, like, leaves his clothes on the floor I'm not going to immediately turn to anger. I'm going to, you know, I'm more grateful for just him being there. And don't get me wrong. Sometimes we still like–actually all the time. We you know,

Ricky 16:35

. . . Don't make us sound bad. We sound good, right now.

Alexis 16:37

I know. I know. I'm just saying like–

Ricky 16:41

I'm just kidding.

Alexis 16:41

Our, our fights, we . . . we try not–we try to have an eternal perspective on things. Whether we do that or not, I don't know. But we try.

Ricky 16:51

I think what she's trying to say, correct me if I'm wrong, is that we don't fight about the things that other 20 year old couples fight about.

Alexis 16:58

Yeah, like newlyweds like–

Ricky 17:01

And communication is so key and it's so hard.

Alexis 17:03

It's so hard.

Ricky 17:04

But you know, when you've been through a trial, such as ours, you're you're forced to grow up.

Alexis 17:12

And one thing too, is that I mean, for us, we're talking about our trials and what is hard for us, but I think it's important to say that our trial isn't more or less important than any other trial. Like, for us, it's health issues, and cancer and what comes with it, but for others, it's depression or family problems, you know what I mean?

Like we all have these trials that we go through, and they give us the opportunity to learn more about our loving Savior Christ. And I think it's really amazing to feel of that. Like to feel that love and to feel that peace in those hard times.

Like we still have those hard times every day, but our approach to them is so different. And we do feel that–feel joy in our lives, even though they're extremely hard. Even though it's . . . it's . . . so hard.

Like even yesterday I had one of those days, you know where everything goes wrong, and we have lost–we've lost nine of our close friends one of them being my very best friend and that's been something that's been really, really hard to deal with every day but I can feel of the Savior's love and I know that He . . . I know that my friends are surrounding me, I know that they're right there and I know that I will be able to hug them again.

That's the thing for Ricky and I as well, is that we know if my, you know my trial–if my physical trial on earth here ends, then I know that I will, Ricky and I will be reunited again soon. Does that make sense?

Ricky 19:23


Alexis 19:23

Did that come across?

Ricky 19:24

You said that so well.

Alexis 19:25


Ricky 19:25

You did great.

But along the lines of selfless love and service, you know, we went on a trip to Zion National Park. I'd never been, I was excited. Lexi's family's been before and trips are . . . like for anybody like in high school or college like you can pack up and go take off and hang out there for a bit. But for us that's a big deal.

That takes bringing all of Lexi's medical equipment, it takes bringing a wheelchair, it takes planning for her feeds, like all of that stuff. It's not a burden by any means, but it's just not as–it's not like, "Hey get in the car in 15 minutes we're out here," that doesn't happen. So we were, it was a big thing and I stress really easy.

Alexis 20:14

It was also my 21st birthday.

Ricky 20:16

It was.

Alexis 20:17

We were celebrating my birthday. Yeah. Okay, sorry, we were going to national–

Ricky 20:20

You're okay. But I'm–I'm a sensitive soul. And I stress really easily, especially when it comes to Lexi. So when we got there, I was worried because it was really hot. And I could already see that she was torched. And she's like, "No, I don't want my wheelchair."

She's stubborn in the sense that she wants to do as much as she can before her body just can't. And she tried and it hit pretty early, and so as we were on our way through the park, we stopped at the first bus stop to get her a wheelchair.

To actually get to all of the different destinations, the different tourist spots, I guess, is the best way to say that, they have buses that drive you from place to place. And they're like 30 passengers in one part, and then it's connected and there's another tagging bus behind it that are connected.

And we ran back and got in the wheelchair and got in line for the next bus. And it was, it was a pretty big show. Anyway, so we're standing there in the line, and they pull the ramp down, takes forever. It's really loud. Everybody's watching, start loading her into it. And like I said, it's a big scene and people are obviously wondering–

Alexis 21:31

Inconvenience for sure.

Ricky 21:33

Like people are curious. That's a normal human instinct. Why is that person in a wheelchair? And why is that person–

Alexis 21:40

I look healthy.

Ricky 21:41

You were not bald, like why does that person need a walker? And I'm not innocent from being curious. But, and I could see people pointing and people whispering and stuff. And we got onto the bus and it already had passengers on it and the bus driver asked a few people to move out of the seat where her wheelchair would be.

So they stood up and they went to the back of the bus. We get in and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, we got her on. Let's just get to the next destination. Let's get her off so we can wheel it around." And a couple minutes into the ride we stop at a stop and our bus was so full that Lexi's family had to be on the back part of the bus where we were detached, we couldn't communicate.

I just see her parents jump out of the back bus and hustle up there like "We got to get off, this bus is going down the mountain," rather than up to where all the spots are that we wanted.

So there's there's a little moment of, "Crud, let's get her out here real quick." And so I go and I start to unstrap her seat from all of the latches that the bus has to offer and, and I was struggling with them. I was feeling overwhelmed. I couldn't couldn't get them off. And I was missing them and I heard this just sigh of "Ugh. Are you kidding me? Now they're getting off?" And I was like so mad. It really killed my vibe.

And I understand. People that mentioned it were the same people that had just gotten out of their seat to be there for Lexie.

Alexis 23:19

Yeah, that's a lot to ask. I get that.

Ricky 23:21

I don't know that I've ever felt anyone made small or bad because of a struggle that they're facing, at least not to my knowledge.

Alexis 23:28

It made me feel really small. I mean, like I'd never felt like that before. Like I already put a lot of pressure on myself and I already like, I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, that's why I didn't want my wheelchair right away is because I didn't want to inconvenience anybody else's life.

So I already felt like really bad about it. And then just like knowing that I actually did inconvenience them. . . it hurt. Because that wasn't my intention. I was just trying to you know, enjoy my birthday, enjoy the weekend.

Ricky 24:06

And I think my frustration came from . . . the comments or obviously about the situation that we're in but Lexi can't control that. She can't control that. That's what needs to happen for her to enjoy life. If she could, she'd be the same person that got out of the seat so somebody else in a wheelchair would be there, right.

And so to me, I'm just like . . . and that's really what got me boiling. And so when we got out of the bus, like her parents carried her out and I was lifting her wheelchair and I kind of just dropped it like I didn't put it down, I just like kind of chucked it and it bounced and I started walking away and I was really ticked. And thinking back on it like I overreacted.

Alexis 24:48

He's very protective of me.

Ricky 24:50

And I definitely overreacted for sure. But I didn't say anything mean. I didn't, you know, yeah at 'em. It's crazy how quick we can get angry. And it's crazy how quick we can be to just judge others, you know?

And for all we know, their day, they could have been like, "Oh crap, why are they getting off now I have to be somewhere like, I have to pick my daughter up from school," or "Crap my husband's in the hospital and they don't let visitors after–" you know. And so like looking back on it I'm not proud of how I handled it.

Anyway, so after I calmed down, it was fun. It was so much fun. I mean, just pushing her around, I love pushing her in a wheelchair, like, I wish I didn't have to, but there's times where it takes that and it's, like, holding her–

Alexis 25:42

It makes it easier for me.

Ricky 25:43

And for me, it's like holding her hand and walking like I love it. It's so fun. And we had such a good time. And then as we were getting ready, you know, our day was getting done, a big storm was moving in. And so everybody was leaving at the same time, we're at the very top, last stop in the park and everybody's moving to the bus stop at the same time.

So the anxiety and the frustration was starting to kick in again. Now it's like "Crap. People are going to be watching, people are going to be pointing, I don't–I don't know how I'll react this time."

So we get in line and we waited. And it was long. I mean, not terribly long, but long. And as we got about three quarters of the way through the line, the same bus that we were on the first time pulled up and the bus driver jumped out and he picked us out of the crowd and said, "Come to the front of the line."

You know, getting picked out is always a little weird, but then getting to skip people in line is even weirder, you know, and so you already feel that pressure of, "Hey, sorry, you know, I know you're here first."

Alexis 26:51


Ricky 26:54

And the whole show started again, they rolled the thing out, the ramp. And so the ramp starts its way up. And everybody's watching. They didn't let–they didn't open the back bus. There was buses behind us that weren't, you know, close enough for people to get in yet.

And we get on the ramp and it starts to lift us up and about halfway up, just goes click, click, click, click, click and then stopped. And I was like "Crap." And I thought that–my weight standing on this time was too much. So I jumped back, I just jumped up into the bus and said, "Alright try it again." He lowered her down, and then lifted her up again and click click, click click click and stopped again and just couldn't get in.

And it was the weird in between where we couldn't pull her wheelchair in but we couldn't just put her on the ground. She was like, two feet off the ground or something like that. Maybe that's a little much, but just not there. Right?

You know, when you feel like people are watching sometimes? It's like, everybody's watching us and they're shooting laser beams at us right now. Like, that's what it felt like you could feel the heat burning your skull.

And I was panicking. And I was like, "Crap, not again, like no, please." And so the bus driver, I don't even remember exactly what happened. We're just like, "Let's just throw her in the bus." So he lowered it down again but she was so exhausted that she couldn't stand by herself. And so her parents actually had her by each arm and her sisters were there. But her sisters were kind of standing in the back, like not knowing what to do, but they're understanding the situation.

Alexis 28:31

And they knew that if I needed any help at all, they were right there to be the first ones.

Ricky 28:37

Right. Just more not involved because it would have made things more difficult than easy, right? And I remember that I couldn't–like the ramp was still out and it was in a weird spot to where I couldn't just grab her wheelchair and pick it up into the bus.

And so I'm sitting there and I'm like, freaking out trying to figure out, okay, what are we going to do now? Everybody's already watching and at this point, the buses behind us just started open up the doors they're like this is taking too long.

I'm trying to figure out how am I going to reach over the ramp to close her wheelchair up so we can pull it up in here and out of nowhere, one of the people who could have very well just gotten onto the back part of the bus or the other buses stopped and started to try and fold her chair up.

Alexis 29:27

It was very humbling

Ricky 29:28

And he didn't know how. And so Lexi's dad had to let go of her arm and help him fold it up. And then they lifted it up into the ramp with me and they close it all up and we carried her into the bus.

And so we're sitting there and I'm holding on to Lexi as we're on the bus and her family's filling in behind us and . . . and the bus is filling up and then that guy who helped walked past and I said, "Hey, thank you so much for your help." And he said "No problem."

You know, and that was the extent of the conversation. And it wasn't until we were sitting in our hotel room that night, Lexi's already crashed, she's wiped out and I'm sitting there. And it just hit me like a brick, like . . . I should say a ton of bricks. And like tears just started running down my face. For me in that moment, that man was my angel. He was the Christlike example that I needed. Just like golly, he acted out of love and acted out of selflessness. He wasn't thinking about himself.

Alexis 30:42

And it made us–helped us realize that our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need, when we need it. Like I said, he wasn't–he wasn't thinking about himself. And that's kind of what we've tried to do ever since is make sure that we are spending our days not thinking about ourselves.

Ricky 31:03

You know, growing up as a kid, you're taught that Jesus Christ is awesome. He's a superhero, but what made him so awesome? And just some of his characteristics of being selfless and loving and caring really help you understand why He was as great as He was.

And I learned a little bit–not anywhere close to what the Savior's, but I've learned a little bit about why He enjoyed serving so much. And that's because when we serve, and we have love for that person, like we genuinely want to do good by them, that we find love and joy and it comes back full circle.

At the end of the day–going back to the first great commandment is love God, love your neighbor as yourself. The gospel has a whole bunch of principles, but love is the central point. That is why we come to earth is to be in a loving family. That is why we strive to make it back to heaven to be with our loving Heavenly Father. So love, the purpose of love, that's what the gospel is to me.

Erika 32:37

That was Ricky and Alexis. I love so many things about this–and you're gonna notice me saying love a lot but I'm excusing myself because it's Valentine's Day, so hopefully you don't get annoyed with me.

But, from the moment they welcomed me into their house, when I went over to record, I was just so impressed with their kindness. And didn't you love just hearing the way that they talked to each other? I really love getting to record them together and hear the little comments they made about how well the other one was doing.

And sharing your story can be a vulnerable thing. But they were so willing to share it and that just really showed me how loving they are in all areas of their life.

But do you see what I mean now what I meant at the beginning about how their story shows all different kinds of love? We see the love that Ricky and Alexis had at the beginning, just as friends supporting each other and then them as a couple, the love they had for their friends, the love they have for their families, and also their love for God. I love how you could feel both of their love for God and Christ so strongly.

The one though, that stood out to me the most and humbled me the most was the love that stranger had for them while they were waiting for the bus. The thing that got me the most about that is how that stranger didn't even know how to fold up a wheelchair.

I thought of how many times that I've passed by someone in need, because I'm like, "I don't know how to do that, I can't help them." Like, "I'm just gonna be a nuisance." But it was so humbling to hear that because even though he didn't know, just his act to help meant the world to Ricky, and completely changed the memories of this vacation for him.

And honestly, it was probably a pretty small thing for that stranger. I don't know that he remembers it now. But it's something that has made a continued difference in Ricky and Alexis's life.

And you know, their whole story just really makes me think of how President Monson said it best when he said, "Love is the essence of the gospel." And I've learned that sometimes that love looks like taking the risk to commit to life with another person when we have absolutely no guarantees of health or happiness. And sometimes it's not snapping at the customer service person on the other end of the line, which is so hard. And sometimes it's grieving. Sometimes it's listening. I think sometimes it's laughing. Whatever it is–I've learned that love is the essence of the gospel, and we are capable,–sometimes more than we think we are–of bringing that love into our lives. And the lives of those around us every day. And I think that there's nothing more Christlike than that

That's it for this episode of "This Is the Gospel." Thank you to our wonderful storytellers, Ricky and Alexis for sharing so much of their story with us and for doing it with so much kindness.

And we didn't have time to go over their whole story in this short episode so if you want to read more about that, we'll put a link to Ricky's blog in the show notes and you can keep up with their journey. You can find our show notes at LDSliving.com/thisisthegospel.

Now, as always, all of the stories in this episode are true and accurate as affirmed by our storytellers. If you have a true story you want to share with us, we definitely want to hear it, so you can call and pitch your story on our pitch line at 515-519-6179. Not only do we find many of our storytellers this way, but we also get great ideas for episode themes. So be sure to use your three minutes wisely to help us get a clear sense of the beginning, middle and end of your story.

And now if you want to find tips on how to pitch your story you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram at @Thisisthegospel_podcast. We have lots of fun resources there. Also, if you've enjoyed any of these episodes, you can leave us a review on Apple, Stitcher or whatever platform you listen on. Reviews help our podcasts to show up in recommendations for new people so that they can find us. And also all of the producers and editors on this podcast, we love reading those reviews. They help us know that our work is connecting with people.

This episode was produced and edited by me Erika Free with help from Katie Lambert and KaRyn Lay. It was scored, mixed, and mastered by Mix at Six studios. Our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at LDS living.com/podcasts. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week.

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