This is a love story like no other. Well, at least it’s like no other we have experienced in our almost 15 years of photographing weddings. Kristen and Michael’s journey to becoming husband and wife is one that has been filled with love, heartache, hope, and again more love than they ever imagined possible.
In 2016, Kristen lost her husband, Ryan, to leukemia. That same year, Michael lost his wife, Michelle, to pancreatic cancer. As anyone who has lost a spouse knows, it was a time of unimaginable pain.
Many years before, Michelle and Kristen were high school classmates, and when Kristen learned of Michelle’s diagnosis, she started following her story, especially after Ryan became ill. When the two women would speak, Michelle would sometimes mention to Kristen that she should connect with Michael, so that they could support each other as fellow caregivers. But that never happened.
After Michelle and Ryan lost their battles, Kristen and Michael did, somehow, manage to connect. They started checking in on each other, as they were both navigating this new life as single parents who had recently lost the loves of their lives. It was a situation of support and mutual understanding, as they each knew exactly what the other was going through.
Slowly, over time, their friendship started to grow into something more. It was completely unexpected, as neither of them thought they would get a second chance at love. From the very first time they met, everything was so beautifully easy and comfortable. You might say it was meant to be.
Now, they and their five children will be living out the rest of their lives as a family whose love truly knows no bounds. And Michelle and Ryan are part of that family too. Just as Kristen and Michael understood each other during their time of grief, they understand how important it is to both of them [and their children] to keep Michelle and Ryan’s memories alive forever. Whether they’re celebrating Michelle’s birthday at Olive Garden, or Ryan’s at Dairy Queen, or just posting a simple “I love you” on Facebook, they know that they never have to refrain from speaking about their first loves. It truly is the greatest gift they could ever give each other.
Kristen and Michael, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing your story with us, and for letting us share it with the world. We are truly honored.
And if you’re reading this and feeling hopeless or lost, we sincerely hope this amazing family will inspire you and help you believe that in love, all things are possible.