A woman who lost her fiancé in the line of duty months before their wedding posed for wedding photos alone to honor his memory.
Nikki Salgot of Michigan was planning her wedding with her fiancé Collin Rose when he was shot in the head while patrolling in November 2016, about 11 months before their wedding was scheduled to take place. He was a Wayne State University sergeant, according to PEOPLE.
“I remember feeling my mouth swell and go dry, my hands [get] cold and sweaty and my face go pale. It took several hours before it fully hit me, and the emotional breakdown took over,” Salgot said.
Nearly a year after his tragic death, Salgot posed for photos in her wedding dress, alone. Photographer Rachel Heller took the photos.
“She was the picture of grief and resilience and strength and vulnerability and authenticity, all at once,” Heller told TODAY.
Salgot posed in her wedding dress, holding Rose’s uniform hat and a folded American flag. The photos show Salgot smiling and laughing in some photos, and more sombre in others.
In a post shared by the Love What Matters Facebook page, Salgot said she adored the photos.
“[Heller] 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; and my favorite, images that show I am still just as fierce as ever and refuse to let this define me. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I will not be broken by this. It is a chapter in my book, a very tough one,” wrote Salgot.
Salgot said that though she’s healing from her loss, she still misses Rose.
“He was an amazingly kind-hearted, generous, do anything for anyone kind of person,” she told PEOPLE. “I miss his smile and his upbeat personality. He always knew how to make me laugh.”
Read Salgot’s full post on Love What Matters below:
On Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 6:30 p.m., Collin was on patrol. He was in the Woodbridge neighborhood, a few blocks off Wayne State University’s campus. The area had seen a recent increase in car thefts. Collin had stopped a man on a bicycle and called dispatch for a backup unit. The man whom he stopped, shot Collin in the head; and his backup found him on the ground with the gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital and emergency surgery was performed. Unfortunately, Collin passed away at 5:45 p.m., on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 (the day before Thanksgiving) from his injuries.
The events happened 11 months before our wedding day, but only 6 months after he proposed. The photo shoot took place on October 4, 2017—the week before our October 14th wedding day. Collin was taken from me that day, but not my love for him or the life we shared. That love is still there… I wanted there to be a reminder of that, years from now. I’m not particularly fond of being in front of a camera, especially in a wedding dress… in the middle of the woods… without a groom; but Rachel managed to capture more than I could have ever hoped for—things I wasn’t entirely sure existed within me anymore.
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; and my favorite, images that show I am still just as fierce as ever and refuse to let this define me. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I will not be broken by this. It is a chapter in my book, a very tough one. One I certainly wish I didn’t have, and would never wish upon anyone else. It was always a known and accepted possibility, just never one I saw coming, but then again… you never do. He will never be fully gone from my life, so I didn’t want our wedding day to be a lost day. I instead wanted it to be a reminder of that love we had, for however brief it was.