John Polo and Michelle met while they were in high school. Like many high school couples, they dated for a while and then lost touch.
Eventually, they found their way back to each other and planned to spend the rest of their lives together—that is until Michelle was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. She passed away two weeks before their wedding ceremony.
One week later, Polo found a stunning photo on her phone.
After losing touch for eight years, Polo and Michelle reunited and eventually got engaged.
According to PEOPLE, the pair met in 2002. They dated for a year in high school, but then they went their separate ways. About eight years later they reunited and started dating again. In July 2012, Polo proposed.
About a year after they got engaged, Michelle started to experience severe back pain. Doctors diagnosed her with a rare form of cancer that kills 50 to 70 percent of patients within five years. The couple knew there was no time to wait, so they visited a courthouse and got married before Michelle underwent her first surgery to remove a tumor.
Three years later, her cancer was diagnosed as terminal, and the couple made a plan to have the wedding of Michelle’s dreams in February 2016.
Sadly, Michelle passed away two weeks before the ceremony.
The couple planned to have a dream wedding, but unfortunately Michelle passed away before the wedding date.
A week after his wife’s death, Polo was going through some of her things and discovered a photo on her phone that made him overwhelmed with emotion. It was a photo of Michelle in her dream wedding dress, the dress that he’d never see her walk down the aisle in.
Polo came across a photo of his late wife in the dress she planned to wear to their wedding.
“I was happy and devastated at the same time, but if I had to choose one emotion to describe how I felt when I saw it, it would be pride,” he told PEOPLE. “I felt pride she was my wife.”
Along with the photo that he shared on Facebook he wrote an emotional caption.
That’s my wife.
In her wedding dress.
A wedding dress that I never got to see her in.
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 the cancer came back and she was terminal, we decided to plan a real wedding.
She didn’t make it to that real wedding.
She died two weeks before it was scheduled to take place.
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 hospice, she would talk to people about how great the wedding was going to be.
She wasn’t coherent enough to realize that she wasn’t going to make it to there.
Michelle died without me ever seeing her in that dream dress.
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.
In her dress.
I want to live a long life.
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.
When it is my time, I am running up there.
No – I am sprinting up there!
To see her.
It has now been over a year since Michelle passed away, and although no one will ever replace his late wife, Polo writes that in a way her death has helped him to become a better man.
“While in hospice I was venting to my sister about this [being bitter], and she asked me a question that would forever change me,” Polo wrote on his blog.
“‘Would you rather have not gotten back together and found out years later that she died of this terrible disease?’ That question profoundly changed me. It shook me to my core. It changed my heart. It changed my soul. In an instance, I was no longer bitter. I was better.”