An Atrium Health teammate and her husband spent Valentine’s Day getting married in the chapel at Carolinas Medical Center, where she’s worked for the past 21 years.

News | 2 years ago

Love is In the Air: Couple Married at Carolinas Medical Center on Valentine's Day

An Atrium Health teammate and her husband spent Valentine’s Day getting married in the chapel at Carolinas Medical Center, where she’s worked for the past 21 years.

Wearing a beautifulwhite wedding gownMeechen Sandra Grimes walked down the aisle of the chapel at Carolinas Medical Center to marry Zinnah Tatu Cooper, a man who makes her laugh and comforted her through one of life’s biggest tragedies in the place that has been her home away from home for more than two decades.

“He’s a good friend of mine and will be a good husband, and I really care about him,” Grimes says of Cooper, whom she calls “Zeek.” “He’s very caring.” 

Joined by their family and friends for the ceremony, the couple exchanged vows and were pronounced husband and wife by David Carl, executive director of spiritual care and education at Atrium Health. 

Carl read from 1 Corinthians 13, during the ceremony: "In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.” 

“It is always a privilege and honor to officiate a teammate’s wedding,” Carl says. “To do this in our Chapel on Valentine’s Day adds all the more meaning.” 

Crossing continents 

This happy couple’s story begins far from North Carolina. 

Grimes was born in Liberia and immigrated to the United States as a young child when the Liberian Civil War began in the West African nation.  

She earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, and began her career as a hospital registrar with the Visitor Relations department at CMC, where she’s worked for more than 21 years, and raised two daughters along the way. . 

“An aspiration that I had for myself was to help within the community. Hearing nothing but great things about Carolinas Healthcare System, now Atrium Health, inspired me to join and become a helping hand,” Grimes says. “I have been able to assist on several life-changing moments where I am located while serving, and have assisted the staff and several teams save lives.  

In her role, Grimes directs patients and their families to the proper locations around the hospital and assists with other registration and security duties.

Meant to be

Tragedy struck three years agowhen Grimes’ oldest daughter diedDespite her grief, Grimes knew through previous experience that helping others through volunteer and mission work had always brought her daughter joy. In September 2017, [less than one year] after her daughter’s death, Grimes traveled to the Republic of Ghana on a mission trip in her daughter’s memory. The trip would change her life. 

While in Ghana, Grimes met Cooper, a local man whose friends call “soldier” because he takes care of the community. Cooper had also escaped Liberia during the war, as the country faced depletion of water, food, shelter and other necessities.  

The pair found commonalities as they shared stories of personal loss.      

He was sympathetic toward what I told him about my daughter. At the same time, he told me a story about his mom dying a few months before my daughter died,” Grimes says. “We talked about it and got along very well. 

While Cooper remained in Ghana and Grimes returned to Charlottethe pair began dating and often visited each other as their relationship blossomed 

After previously exchanging marriage promise rings, the couple went to dinner during a second mission trip to Ghana in December 2018The big moment came when Cooper got down on one knee and proposed, “Marry me, please.”  

While searching for a wedding venue, Grimes wasn’t finding anything that felt right. So, she spoke with Carl, a longtime friend who has officiated weddings in the chapel over the past several decades. He agreed to marry the couple in a place that’s been home to Grimes for her entire career with Atrium Health.  

When I go into this chapel, I feel the presence of God,” Grimes says. “When I’m in this chapel, I feel blessed. This is home away from home for me.” 

Following the wedding, the couple enjoyed their first meal as a married couple and plans to have a celebration later this year alongside family members from across the world.