It’s easy to forget just how much danger police officers put themselves in. Most of their work in the field is fairly routine, making sure people are obeying the law. But potential risk is always lurking.
On a search that appeared to be routine in November 2016, Collin Rose stopped a man who was a suspect in a string of car break-ins, and the man suddenly pulled out a gun and shot him.
After Rose was killed in the line-of-duty, his fiancee, Nikki Salgot of Michigan, was left to pick up the pieces and move on.
— Wayne State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (@WayneStateCLAS) November 23, 2017
Rose and Salgot had recently become engaged and were planning their wedding for October of this year. Much of the preparing had already been done, and Salgot already had her dress. When she got word that Rose had been slain, she didn’t think she would ever wear it.
Months passed by and the dress hung in her closet, unused. The anticipated date of the wedding was around the corner, and the grief was overwhelming. Rather than be swallowed by lamentation of what could have been, she decided to do something constructive with her pain.
Salgot contacted an old friend, Rachel Heller, a wedding photographer. She wanted to do a memorial photo shoot.
Salgot and Heller hadn’t spoken to each other in nearly 10 years, but Heller heard through local news what happened to Rose. She agreed to do the photo shoot, but admitted she was nervous about it.
“I remember being in tears on the way there, thinking, ‘How am I going to do this? How am I going to find a way to take photos that will do this justice, not just for her but for him?'” Heller told Today.com
The results of the photo shoot were stunning. Heller says she knew they would be the instant she saw Salgot get out of her car.
“She was the picture of grief and resilience and strength and vulnerability and authenticity, all at once.”
Heller’s session and any prints Salgot wanted were given as a gift.
The images are powerful. Heller managed to capture the strength in Salgot’s mourning. And while some of the images have a more somber, stoic tone, Heller wanted to tell the entire story.
“There were moments when Nikki would shift her dress around, or step on it and start laughing. I wanted to capture those moments, too, to show that she can still laugh,” Heller said.
Coincidentally, Heller’s own wedding was only a few days away. Heller was nervous about mentioning it, but when she did, she says Salgot couldn’t have been happier for her.
“She was so excited for me,” Heller recalled. “So collected. It was so generous of her to be happy for me. It really put things in perspective.”
Salgot continues to grieve and pick up the pieces of her life, but says she refuses to let the tragedy define her.
Salgot hasn’t wanted to make any public statements about what happened with Rose. However, in a lengthy Facebook post in which she thanked Heller, she issued a powerful message.
“She captured images that still vividly show the pain left behind; images that show I am still able to laugh, smile and be me; images that show this loss has not and will not destroy me,” the post reads.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I will not be broken by this.”