ORLANDO, Fla. - When Garrett and Katie Adams took off on their honeymoon to Walt Disney World, they didn’t know their marriage would be cut so short. This winter, Katie went to the hospital complaining of pain in her belly.
A month later, the 28-year-old and Garrett’s high-school sweetheart, died.
Katie’s husband promised her to keep finding the passion in life and to bring her to Disney World one last time. Garrett is fulfilling her wishes and more.
"Heading off on a flight for the first time since she left. We loved going to Disney, and it holds a very special place in our hearts as much more than a theme park."
Garrett’s first post announced he had planned a tribute for his wife by heading off to her favorite theme park by himself. What he didn’t know is Garrett would not be celebrating alone. The internet watched as Garrett’s posts spread across the nation. His photos demonstrated how much he truly loved his wife of just four years, many observed.
"Stop #1! Ready to enjoy the gardens."
Garrett's first day back at Walt Disney World would bring him to Epcot. In his first photo, Katie’s photo is propped up in the foreground, in a frame that reads "Love you!" And "Miss you already!" Spaceship earth graces the background.
FOX 35 News spoke with Garrett towards the end of his trip, one he admits has been bittersweet. Their last trip to Walt Disney World was in March of 2020, right before the pandemic put the planet on hold.
"You know, we wondered whether, whether things would truly go back to normal and enjoy things the way that we used to," he said.
Garrett tells FOX 35 News that Katie was anxious to get back to Disney, worried it would never be the same. Both worked as teachers in Texas. Katie was a proud music teacher and loved her students.
The two wouldn’t be able to get back to Disney until the end of the school year. Katie, of course, didn’t make it that long.
"So this is partially me keeping that promise to bring her back," Garrett said.
"Day 3! "Helllllllllo there!" #ifyouknowyouknow Missing my favorite Dino hunting partner today. We always promised to "flat Stanely" each other in case this ancient attraction outlasted all of us."
After their honeymoon in 2017 the young couple became Disney fanatics. Everything was Disney- themed, Disney-inspired, and when it wasn’t Garrett says Katie, like all Disney characters, was cheery, vibrant and a light that lit up his life.
"She loved Disney with every fiber of her being, but the only thing she loved more than Disney traveling and traveling here with me was letting the kids know how much they're loved, and how to become better versions of themselves, she was extremely passionate about education," Garrett told FOX 35.
Colleagues paid tribute to the dedicated teacher even months after Katie passed away.
"As we end Teacher Appreciation week, Lakewood Elementary pays tribute to ‘Lakewood’s very own Disney Princess,’" a post says on Facebook. Pictures attached show students and teachers wearing purple shirts with Katie’s handwriting, along with hearts she would always add to her notes, one teacher posted.
Before Katie died, Garrett was able to have quiet conversations with her, even though she was heavily sedated in order to be comfortable.
"I think she was worried that when she died, that I would too," Garrett said.
Of course, the days after Katie died, Garrett struggled. After all, they had been together for nearly 12 years, almost married for four of those years. Garrett says they wouldn’t go a day without talking in all of that time.
Katie passed away in early January. Three months after, Garrett says he was having a hard time getting out of bed and living the life he had promised to Katie.
He wasn’t fulfilling her wish.
"It hit me around March, that while I did promise her I would keep living and try my best. I wasn't. I was sleeping and going to work coming back and that was my life. And after sitting down, talking to many people. I decided that I would try and try to experience joy again." Garrett explained.
In March, he planned a trip for one to Orlando. The first trip he would make to the park, since meeting Katie, without her.
"It’s been a very bittersweet week, with lots of, lots more bitter than I thought there would be just because obviously, I'm missing that presence," he said.
While Katie wasn’t physically there with Garrett, he did make sure to bring his favorite picture of his wife to all of her favorite spots. In the picture, she’s enjoying a Disney favorite — a Dole Whip.
"My favorite parts would be riding her favorite rides and getting lost in the moments where for a split 30 seconds, 15 seconds it feels like she's still there. You know, for that little amount of time," Garrett said.
Wednesday is his final day at Walt Disney World, and again for the first time, he will head home from the park without Katie next to him on the flight. While her physical presence is gone, it’s evident Katie, at just 28-years-old, left a lasting impact on Garrett and a legacy for her friends and family to share for years to come. Many memories are infused with Disney flare, of course.
"I wish she were here today. Not just because we all miss her. But so that she could see the impact she has made, almost six months later she is still changing lives."
Garrett thanked FOX 35 News for giving him time to talk about Katie.
"I miss her like crazy," he said.