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WIDOWER MOURNS HIS WIFE OF 1 HOUR

Kimberly Efkarpides died during the first dance at her dream wedding.

The only thing Kim Sjostrom wanted more than a real-life re-enactment of My Big, Fat Greek Wedding was the Greek-American husband who came with it: Teddy Efkarpides.

By the time the 36-year-old elementary school teacher married the 43-year-old Sunrise carpenter on Jan. 19 - three years to the day after their first date - she had had a Greek-themed bridal shower, gotten a "Greek by Marriage" T-shirt and practically memorized the movie, which played while friends did her hair and makeup before the ceremony.

The Hollywood version has a happy ending; the South Florida version doesn't. As 60 disbelieving guests looked on, Kimberly Sjostrom Efkarpides crumpled during the first dance at the reception and died in her new husband's arms.

They had been married for less than an hour.

"The only official document now that can bear the name she wanted to have is the death certificate," said Efkarpides, his voice a raw whisper. "Life sure deals some lulus."

Every day, Teddy Efkarpides - a burly, bearded, Brooklyn-born 6-footer - tries again to sort out what happened. Why fate cast him as the romantic lead one minute, a widower at his own wedding the next. Why, after a wrenching divorce, he won a loving heart, only to see it fail them both.

Blockages and premature hardening of the arteries, doctors told him. Logically, the wedding guests who knew her well suspected a diabetic complication - her condition was hardly a secret - that some sugar could fix.

"She was diagnosed when she was 9 with juvenile diabetes," Teddy said. "She was a poster child, literally. I remember seeing it on the New York subways."

Or, thought the few who knew her even better, it might relate to a miscarriage the previous week.

"She was 10 weeks pregnant," says Efkarpides, a father of three. "She was upset. She'd been pregnant once before," in her first marriage and lost that baby at five months.

The two met through an online dating service.

"I got the first e-mail," Efkarpides remembered. "She picked up on my profile. The word that caught her eye was, I was looking for someone with a little pizazz."

Their first date was lunch at a restaurant followed by a long talk. He says it lasted eight hours.

Their first Christmas together, Kim gave Teddy her "101 Reasons Why I Love You" framed.

He reads: "No. 1. You make me smile. 2: You know where I'm ticklish."

No. 4 reads, "You kiss away my tears," an irony not lost on the weeping man who has no one to return the favor.

Kim Sjostrom's wedding became a Davie Elementary School project. Teacher Cheryl Carter provided the venue - her sister's large home - and with another colleague, designed the invitations.

Kim, said Carter, "was a fabulous girl" who fit perfectly into the school's familylike atmosphere. "I remember when she was relatively new and my mom retired from the same school. Kim didn't know her that well, but she got all of the kids my mom had taught in first grade into the cafeteria, and she sang a song for my mom. She had a beautiful voice."

One teacher bought Kim's gown. Others did the flowers, the decorations, the tablecloths. Dominic Church, an ordained minister, presided over a ceremony melding Kim's Catholic faith and Teddy's Greek Orthodox.

Then the couple headed for the reception, on the patio. A friend announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time ever, Mr. and Mrs. Teddy Efkarpides!"

The song was the Greek Agapame, which means "love me." It was one of Kim's favorites.

About a minute into the dance, Kim said she felt lightheaded. Teddy figured she needed sugar and suggested they head for a table.

Then, he says, "she collapsed."

Someone rushed in with sugar packets from the coffee service. Church tried CPR. Paramedics arrived in seven minutes, but it was too late.

Teddy has lost 30 pounds since Kim's death. He tries going to work, until grief sends him home, to the company of Kim's ill-tempered cat.

Sometimes he looks at Kim's "101 Reasons" list - "97: You amaze me every day; 98: You're the one I want to grow old with" - and he cries.

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