BY: JACQUELYN MASSE
TIGER TV REPORTER
BATON ROUGE, LA - Brooke Hotard never expected to fall in love with her best friend.
"He always had a crush on me and he made that very clear but he was such a good person, he'd help me with every boy struggle that I had."
Hotard was friends with Joseph Delaune since 5th grade, but their romantic relationship started in high school after a date to the movies.
The couple was inseparable ever since; they were high school sweethearts and attended LSU for college. After six years of dating, Delaune asked Hotard to be his wife.
"It was a dream come true," said Hotard.
It was Delaune's last wish; he had been fighting against Ewing Sarcoma for a year. It is a rare cancer that is found in the bones or soft tissue; the tumor was located in his pelvis.
Delaune left LSU in October to start chemotherapy treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Hotard visited him every weekend while managing schoolwork and participating in sorority events.
In December, Delaune returned to Baton Rouge for more treatment and to marry the love of his life.
"I think he held on to give me that wedding and to have that, what we always talked about," said Hotard.
Friends and family gathered around his bed for the wedding ceremony. He was weak from his illness, but determined and filled with joy.
"Despite his low energy level, he just kept asking to see people," said Hotard. "He kept asking to see his fraternity brothers, his high school friends, his cousins and he did."
On Sept. 24 at 5:47 a.m. Hotard said her last goodbye to her husband.
"I looked at him on Tuesday and asked 'Joseph how do you feel?''' said Hotard. "He said 'babe honestly I'm at peace, I'm not scared I'm ready.'"
Friends stopped by St. Aloysius church that night to pay respects to Delaune.
"He was super nice, talented, he brought joy to just about everybody he knew," said LSU student Chris Handy. "He touched so many lives."
As Hotard looks at the handmade scrapbooks she made with her husband, she finds blank pages that she will fill to honor Joseph Delaune's memory.
"It's weird, as soon as he left and every second since then, how much I feel him with me," said Hotard.