'Grey's Anatomy': Meredith and Derek Finally Get Their Dream Wedding and Fans Are Not Okay

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Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Meredith and Derek got their moment -- even if it was bittersweet.

On Thursday's Grey's AnatomyMeredith (Ellen Pompeo) -- still dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and coming in and out of consciousness -- was faced with an impossible decision: go back to the living or stay on the beach, which had become her "safe place" during her COVID recovery and reunite in the afterlife with Derek (Patrick Dempsey). The answer ended up being a simple one, though it took Meredith a while to get there because either way, she was letting go. She didn't want to leave their kids. Not yet, anyway. Derek didn't want her to either.

In a sweet callback to their iconic post-it note "wedding" from season 5, the couple found themselves on the beach -- Derek in a khaki tux, Meredith in a white flowy dress with a bouquet in hand. They never had a formal wedding (the post-it note promise was meant to serve as one), but many, many years ago, they dreamed of getting married on the beach somewhere. There's even a drawing of their ideal wedding by their daughter, Ellis, proudly displayed on the fridge back home of them in similar garb. Derek, during their impromptu beach wedding, made Meredith promise to torture herself less when she asked what they should promise.

"I don't want to leave the kids," Meredith later says to Derek, who shared her sentiments. "I don't want you to leave the kids." But that didn't do the trick in pulling Meredith out from her prolonged slumber. Instead, it was a combination of heartbreaking moments -- Zola's desperation to see her mom and Derek finally letting her go. "It's not your time. Our kids need you," Derek tells Meredith, moments after their eldest daughter Zola heartbreakingly pleads with her mom to wake up. And, while in the middle of Zola recounting a story to her mom at the hospital, Meredith finally wakes up.

Thursday's episode was an emotional one for Grey's fans, who have been on a roller-coaster ride since the start of the season, after Meredith was struck with COVID and had been struggling to gain consciousness for more than minutes at a time. It also marked the end of Derek's story on Grey's (for now), as the final imagery of him walking away alone on the beach drew chills. (In a coincidental stroke of luck, Dempsey's final episode as a series regular, the one in which Derek dies, aired April 23, 2015, almost six years ago to the day.)

Fans took to Twitter after the episode to react with passionate, heart-tugging takes.

Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday, May 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. For more, watch below.

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