Mere weeks after Meghan McCain, The View co-host and daughter of GOP Senator John McCain announced her engagement to conservative pundit Ben Domenech, the couple exchanged vows on November 21.
"We've been together for years. And we have been engaged for a while," Meghan explained. "It was a secret. I was hoping to get married and people wouldn't find out, but people talk sometimes and I love him very much and I'm very happy."
When it came to planning her wedding, she was not in the mood to stress.
“I was not really caught up in the details,” she said. “I just wanted everybody to have a good time.”
But when her father tore his Achilles tendon in the days leading up to the cermony, the bride-to-be had to figure out a new plan to get down the aisle on the big day.
That's when her brother, 29-year-old Army guardsman, Jimmy stepped in.
“He stepped in to walk me down the actual aisle and then my dad gave me away at the very end,” Meghan explains. “I had nerves right before I was going to walk out, but Jimmy was making me laugh the entire time.”
"She was very calm and very positive,” she says. “The day was here and her dad was here, which was the most important thing,” said her mom, Cindy.
Unfortunately her father's presence was not guaranteed, because the 81-year-old has been battling stage 4 glioblastoma. This rare and highly aggressive form of brain cancer has a median survival rate of 14 months.
“I felt like a nuclear bomb went off in my life. I was a mess. I was barely functioning,” Meghan says.
McCain has been treated with radiation and chemotherapy, but doctors found another tumor that had appeared in the previous ones place.
But he hasn't given up hope.
“It’s still a fight, but I’m doing fine,” the senator says. “I’m getting treatment, and my progress is steady and good. People are saying, ‘I hope you can get over this.’ I believe I will.”
In spite of his fight, McCain still feels at peace.
“I’ve been a small bit of American history, so I think if there’s something on my tombstone, it’ll be ‘He served his country,’ and hopefully you add one word, ‘honorably,’ ” he says. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve lost races. I’ve caved in to what seems to be the easy way out and wasn’t. There’s nothing to be sorry for. I have nothing but gratitude for a life fully lived, and you can’t ask for anything more than that. And you can’t deny that I am the luckiest person that you will ever talk to.”
Her father's diagnosis put Meghan's life into perspective, however.
After dating Ben for two years, the couple said, “we were already talking about getting married, but this made it official.”
“There was something about Ben being there for me, at my father’s treatments. I was like, ‘This is love.’ I felt this overwhelming sense of time and my own mortality. We ended up saying, ‘Let’s do this now,” she said.
With original plans to elope, her father's illness changed their thoughts.
“This brought into focus how important it was for Meghan to have her dad see her get married, and to have that happen while he was still fully there and fully able to participate. This was something that she needed,” Ben said.
McCain was happy to have seen his daughter get married.
“The thing in life you want more than anything else is for your kids to be happy,” the senator shares. “And I’m confident that she will be. It was really a wonderful day.”
“We pushed everything up,” Meghan says. “My dad is doing really well right now, but it’s a deeply unpredictable cancer. You’re really just living scan to scan. I wanted to make sure that he was — that we were all — there. Why wait?”
The couple plans to post-pone their honeymoon until next year.