A widowed man recently shared a poignant photo of his late wife, who died from an aggressive form of cancer, and it has touched enough hearts to go viral.
John Polo of Chicago accidentally stumbled upon a photo of Michelle in her dream wedding dress — a white, lace-beaded corset gown — which he never got the chance to see. That’s when he shared the heartbreaking photo of her on his blog and Facebook page, Better Not Bitter Widower, and it quickly went viral.
“That’s my wife. In her wedding dress. A wedding dress that I never got to see her in,” Polo begins the post. “We were married at the courthouse a few days before her first surgery was scheduled to take place. We rushed there, to become man and wife, not knowing if she would make it out of the surgery alive.”
After her cancer returned, he says, it was diagnosed as terminal, and the couple decided to plan a real wedding — except Michelle didn’t make it that long.
“She died two weeks before it was scheduled to take place,” Polo wrote. “I have so many regrets. Not getting to see her walk down the aisle is atop that list. But, she got that dress. Her dream dress. She loved that dress SO much.”
While at the hospice, Michelle would talk to people about how great the wedding was going to be — even if she wasn’t coherent enough to realize that she wasn’t going to make it there.
“Michelle died without me ever seeing her in that dream dress,” he writes. “A week after she passed away, I stumbled across this picture in her phone. I lay motionless in bed, both happy and devastated. Tears flowing down my cheeks as I laughed aloud at the memory of how giddy it made her. My bride. In her dress.”
On his blog, Polo further documents their love story. The couple dated and fell in love while in high school, and although they eventually lost touch, they reconnected after eight years apart. John became stepfather to Michelle’s daughter and they planned to spend the rest of their lives together.
Two years later, Michelle was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive cancer.
“So rare in fact, that we were told when you consider what type of cancer it was, and where it developed, there is only one case a year in the world of what Michelle had,” Polo explains in his blog post.
Michelle fought for two and a half years before dying on Jan. 22, 2016.
A post shared by Better Not Bitter Widower (@betternotbitterwidower) on Aug 28, 2017 at 2:35pm PDT
But despite the pain, Polo says the experience has made him a better man. He got to care for Michelle during her cancer battle. He got to show her that she was loved, truly and unconditionally. He never left her side and he stayed “until death did us part.” Michelle also showed him that he was worthy of that same love.
“She showed me what it meant to have true character and class, and to not let your sorrows get the best of you. She showed me what it meant to truly be a great, unselfish parent.”
“I want to live a long life,” Polo concludes his Facebook post. “I want to remarry and have grandkids. I want to write and teach. I want to spread my message to the world. I want to tell them everything I have learned about love, loss, grief and healing. But when it is my time, I am running up there. No — I am sprinting up there! To see her.”
A post shared by Better Not Bitter Widower (@betternotbitterwidower) on Aug 26, 2017 at 8:29am PDT
Polo’s post resonated with readers around the world, with many reminding others about how precious life and our loved ones are.
“My heart goes out to you,” wrote Diana. “I have Stage 4 cancer and am marrying the love of my life next Wednesday. Your bride was still your bride in heart. She is beautiful.”
“This hits me right in the gut. I lost my love 32 days before our wedding. I did get to [see] her in her dress but at the funeral,” wrote Patrick.
“She is beautiful. I married my wife Amanda in the ICU the day before she passed. We were set to wed 9/16/2017. She passed in June. When I got home, I found a similar picture, her in her dress, with that look of ‘amazing’ on her face. She absolutely loved the dress she picked and always made sure that I was not to see it before the day. I miss her so much, everyday. Thank you for sharing,” Bryan commented.
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