It's a story that we sadly hear all too often: a police officer killed in the line of duty left behind a loving fiance.
But Nikki Salgot chose to do something special to remember her late fiance, and her project has been going viral ever since she unveiled it last month. Salgot's fiance, Police Sergeant Collin Rose, was a member of the Wayne State University Police Department. He was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious person last year.
Rose was remembered as a respected member of his community, and Salgot was heartbroken for months after his death. “It's been almost a year," she wrote on Facebook last month, "and it still feels like yesterday he walked out the door for work, and never came home.”
"I loved a hero and paid the price," she added. "Given the chance, knowing the outcome, I'd do it all over again.”
And while the couple couldn't officially tie the knot, Salgot didn't want their wedding date last month to be "ignored and forgotten." She recruited her friend Rachel Smaller for a memorial photo shoot that would honor Rose and their relationship.
Smaller and Salgot hadn't spoken for a decade when the widow sent her a message, but the photographer agreed right away. While no one can deny the photos she took are touching, Salgot says they have a special importance for her.
Smaller was already in tears as she drove to the site of the photo shoot, and says she was anxious to take pictures that would really capture Salgot's heartbreak.
“Not just for her," she explained, "but for him.”
“I was angry that I was standing alone in a wedding dress and utterly lost in life,” Salgot said about the photos, “I had lost my rock, my other half.” But there were a handful of fun and candid moments too, like when Salgot stepped on her dress and almost tripped. Smaller said she “wanted to capture those moments, too, to show that she can still laugh,”
Looking at the photographs afterwards, Salgot says she had a revelation. Despite how much she missed Rose, "I am still able to laugh, smile and be me." The pictures show that "this loss has not and will not destroy me," and that she's "just as fierce as ever."
Salgot's plans for the future include finishing her education, something that her fiance always encouraged her to do. Rose was one credit away from earning a Master's degree himself, and Salgot accepted the degree on his behalf.
“I am learning to accept my new normal and everything that it brings to me, good and bad,” she says. And these photos perfectly capture the joy and pain that brings.
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[H/T: WXYZ Detroit]