The wedding came too late.
Yang Weihua posed for her wedding photograph on Saturday. But instead of the groom in person, it was his portrait that she posed with.
The life partner she had chosen was 26-year-old Wu Wenbin, a soldier with Jinan Military Command in Shandong province, who died of overwork, helping with quake relief work in Sichuan province.
The couple were high school classmates, and got their marriage registration certificate in February. They had planned to tie the knot in June but the May 12 quake changed everything.
"We had planned to take our wedding photographs in March. But since he was busy then we had to postpone it to June, when our wedding would have been held as well", says Yang.
On the morning of May 13, hours after the devastating quake rocked Sichuan, Yang got a phone call from Wu. He told her that he was going to Dujiangyan to help with the rescue and relief work.
As a student of the Information Engineering University of the People's Liberation Army, Wu could have stayed to end his internship and return for his graduation ceremony in June.
But he insisted on going, even though his commander asked him to stay back.
"I would spend the rest of my life in remorse if I don't go to Sichuan," he told his commander before the latter gave him the green light.
"He sent me a short text message every day, telling me he was doing fine," Yang recalls.
On June 17, Yang got a text message from Wu, saying "I am not tired, don't worry about me."
She wrote back: "Honey, I'm waiting for you to come back." Those would be the last messages they exchanged.
Yang did not know then that Wu had been working almost non-stop for more than a month, rescuing quake survivors and carrying relief materials.
After helping unload 50 tons of tents and other building materials in heavy rain around 9:25 pm on June 17, he could take it no more and fainted. He was rushed to hospital immediately.
At 4:45 am the next day, the doctors announced his death. The cause: "hemorrhage in the lungs because of overwork". He became the only PLA soldier to die of overwork in quake relief efforts.
Yang and her and Wu's parents rushed to Dujiangyan on June 18 after they came to know he had suddenly fallen ill. "On my way to Dujiangyan, I decided to stay with him forever even he became disabled", Yang says.
"But when I saw him, he was lying motionless in the funeral room. A doctor told me his hands were full of bloody cysts (because of the loads he had been carrying)."
Yu Yuanlai, a fellow solider, says Wu's last words were: "I want to wash my feet in hot water, and resume work from tomorrow."
Wu's command has honored him with first-class merit and declared him a martyr. Thousands of people were present at his funeral in Dujiangyan on June 21.
(China Daily July 1, 2008)