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Bride shares news of pregnancy after her husband tragically died on their honeymoon

Mariana Kuhlman and Nate Kuhlman were married in October of last year, but after a horrific water skiing accident on their honeymoon, Nate passed away and Mariana was left devastated and heartbroken. “Nathaniel is now where he had always wanted to be. But I didn’t think it would be that soon, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand why in this life” Mariana said.

Nate and Mariana met at Franciscan University in Ohio in October 2021. Their first meeting came about when Ashley, a friend of Mariana's, invited her to go to Florida for an autumn break, along with some of her other friends. One of these friends being Nate, Mariana’s friend told her “All the girls are staying at my house and the guys at Nate’s house. Do you know Nate?”

A spark was quick to form between the young couple.

“We got pretty close,” Mariana said. “We played on the same volleyball team for one game while I was subbing for Ashley. We stayed after and talked for hours doing the whole ‘Where you’re from, what’s your major’ conversation.”

During Mariana’s final year at Franciscan University, she invited Nate to come along with her and her family on their annual trip to Las Vegas. Mariana had suggested to Nate that they go hiking at Zion National Park, a nature reserve in Utah. Mariana was unaware that Nate had been searching for the perfect setting for his proposal, and Zion was the ideal choice.

When they finally made it to Zion, the temperature was considerably lower than they had anticipated. Upon reaching the summit of their hike, Mariana noticed her brother’s hands had gone purple from the cold. She suggested that instead of Nathaniel giving up his gloves for her brother, he should let him wear the socks he had jammed into his jacket pocket. When she reached for one, she felt the ring box, but continued to play along.

Nate showed Mariana where he and her brother had discovered a "cool spot" for pictures. At that point, he got down on one knee.

Mariana and Nate were married last October at St. Mary, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. Heather, Nate’s mother, had said about the wedding “Their wedding was one of the holiest I’ve ever been to,”

The following Monday after the wedding, the newlyweds arrived in St Lucia. When they woke up the next morning, they planned to have breakfast and go water skiing. Nate was especially good at water skiing, as he had been on a water ski team when he was in high school.

Nate went first, “I was watching him and saw that he had fallen and gotten up,” Mariana said. She then entered a conversation with someone on the beach, and did not see that Nate had fallen again. Her young husband was suddenly rushed to the shore by boat.

Nathaniel and Mariana were quickly transported to the hospital, where the doctor broke standard protocol of which he would typically try to revive someone for 15 minutes. He worked for 60 minutes and then told Mariana, "He's not coming back." An autopsy determined that drowning was the cause of death.

Mariana had prayed that Nate would survive and that they would be reunited. Although this prayer seemingly went unanswered, Mariana received a different answer that she didn't think was possible until someone said, "What if you’re pregnant and that’s the way the Lord answers our prayers."

Mariana and her family mourned Nate's passing for several weeks. Before long, Thanksgiving Day arrived, and Mariana took a pregnancy test that she had been holding onto while her mother, Heather, and Gordon attended Mass. Mariana was overjoyed when the test resulted in a positive.

Being able to share such a wonderful gift on the family’s first holiday without Nate made it especially joyful and memorable. Mariana rushed to wake up her friend, Ariana and tell her right away. Mariana then told her brother the exciting news, that he would be an uncle. Then they hurried off to think of a charming way to tell the new grandparents about their unexpected blessing. She bought each of them a pair of baby socks from the Dollar Tree, which was the only store open at the time. As they were having breakfast, she announced that she had a present for them.

When Ginna, Mariana's mother, opened the surprise gift, she gasped. Heather said  "When I opened it and saw the socks, I thought, 'Dare I hope.'" That was my hope. Even today, 'Dare I hope for this miracle?'" When Nate died, Heather and Gordon assumed that their chances of becoming grandparents had died with him. This baby is truly a blessing to their family. “I had been excited about being a grandparent when they were getting married… And to have that restored when we thought it was lost — just that overwhelming joy.” Gordon, Nate’s father, shared.

Mariana and Nate’s baby is due on July 17. Mariana has moved in with Heather and Gordon and intends to raise her child there, in the same place her late husband was raised. “I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, being close to his family that is now my family,” she said.

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