DAVIE, Fla. – Kim Sjostrom wanted a real-life version of the film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which played in the background as friends fixed her hair and makeup before her own marriage ceremony. But less than an hour after she and Teddy Efkarpides were wed, Sjostrom crumpled in her husband’s arms during a Greek song that means “Love Me.”
At 36, Sjostrom was dead from heart disease.
The wedding had became a project at Davie Elementary School, where Sjostrom taught first grade. Fellow teachers provided the wedding gown, the flowers and decorations. One of them, an ordained minister, performed the ceremony.
“It was perfect for her,” said Dominic Church, the minister friend.
Sjostrom carried blue and white flowers during the ceremony â€” the colors of the Greek flag â€” as she exchanged vows with Efkarpides, a 43-year-old carpenter and Navy veteran. They had met three years to the day before the Jan. 19 wedding.
During the couple’s first dance, Sjostrom complained of being lightheaded. Efkarpides thought his wife, a diabetic, needed sugar, but she collapsed.
Wedding guests, paramedics and doctors at a nearby hospital were unable to revive her.
She had a previous cardiac episode in her 20s and was a poster child â€” literally â€” for juvenile diabetes, relatives and friends said. Efkarpides recalled seeing the poster featuring her on New York subways.
He consoles himself by reading a list of “101 Reasons Why I Love You” that Sjostrom gave him their first Christmas together. “Number 1. You make me smile.”
No. 98 is especially difficult: “You’re the one I want to grow old with.”