No matter how upset he was about her numbered days, he wanted to keep her happy, so he did.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 2, 2020. It has since been updated.
Finding the right person to spend your life with is not always easy. Many people struggle with the wrong folks or wait for years until they find the one who wins their heart. But when you do meet the one, everything seems to fall in place and life takes a magical new turn. And that is what Michael Bank saw when he first met Laurin.
When he saw her profile on the dating website Plenty of Fish in 2015, it didn't bother him one bit that she was bald due to her first bout of cancer, according to Love What Matters. In fact, he was intrigued by how brave she was to put herself out there and decided to make the first move.
"We chatted throughout the day and that evening decided to talk on the phone—which went on for about 3 hours. I am not a person who normally likes to spend much time on the phone, but the conversation was so natural, we just kept talking," he recalled.
Making a plan to meet up at Starbucks, Michael made a sweet decision that spoke volumes of his character. "I buzzed my head that day so my hair would be shorter than hers, and we walked to a nearby bench where we talked for about an hour and a half," he wrote. After he shared that he was still going through divorce proceedings, Laurin opened up to him and revealed what it was like going through her cancer journey.
"I felt an incredible connection with her from that day—we seemed aligned in our values and life goals, and I left excited to get to know her better. When I walked her back to her car, I decided to be a gentleman and not go for a kiss the first night, which later I found out she took as me not being interested in her." But he was hooked!
When she was moving into her sister's house and she was in need of a truck, he was right there to help her. And when they got to her house, well, he was quite surprised. "When I arrived at her house, she pushed me against the wall for our first kiss to thank me." Soon enough, the two of them had forged a strong relationship, and he was by her side for all of her cancer treatments. After a few months, Laurin and Michael hit a milestone when they officially moved in together. That's when they got the best news ever—that she was cancer-free!
Having been through a life-threatening experience, Laurin was keen to experience the life and the world in its best light and made adventures her top priority—something that her beloved was more than happy to be a part of. "Over the next few years, we had countless adventures, from touring a wine country, to hot-air-balloon rides, indoor skydiving, all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, and 7-day cruises," Michael mentioned. It was then that he knew he wanted to propose and make her his wife, but he just didn't know how to go about it.
Laurin's work required her to go on a two-week road trip. Michael decided to finally work up the courage, "I knew this was the opportunity where she would not see it coming, so I packed the ring I had ordered about 2 months before and we took off. We ended up in Niagara Falls where we had an amazing dinner. We were walking in front of the falls where I dropped to one knee and asked Laurin, ‘Can we keep the party going?’ She squealed with delight. I don’t think she was able to say anything comprehensible for about 10 minutes. We turned off our phones before we got to Canada, and had decided to not use them at all while we were there, so we spent the evening and next morning just enjoying each other’s company before we came back and started telling everyone!"
However, the giddy-in-love newly engaged couple returned back to the news that hit them hard. Laurin had been experiencing back pain, usually a side effect of her treatment. But after consulting a doctor, the found that the cancer had come back and in full force. She was looking at Stage-4 cancer, which had metastasized into her bones, lungs, and liver.
"Hearing this made me feel very useless, I am used to always being able to have some control over a situation. But I was 100% committed to being by her side as she started her second round against this dreaded disease. I wanted to be in her corner and help in every way I could," Michael wrote. Yet, what hit him harder was his fiance's question.
Having lost both her parents to stage four cancer, with tears in her eyes, she asked, "Are we still going to get married?" "She was not asking me this thinking I was going to change my mind, but was wanting to protect me from the possible extreme costs of treatment," Michael recalled. And there was no way they were going to let this stop them from having their moment.
With the venue booked and the date set for their third anniversary, they didn't budge even though the doctors suggested moving it ahead. And between her treatments, Michael made sure to give his love the best time of her life. "We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona and saw the Grand Canyon, the slat canyons in Paige, and spent a few days in Sedona," he remembered.
He even found her dream car and sat beside her as she drove them all the way to Key West, Florida. While the couple were enjoying the adventures of a lifetime, Laurin had continued to lose her hair. "‘I fell in love with you when you were bald, so it does not make any difference,’ I told her."
And finally, it was the day of their wedding. Laurin looked radiant and Michael looked happy, like the luckiest man alive. "We were able to dance the night away and enjoy a magical wedding. There was not a dry eye in the room during our first dance as husband and wife. ‘We made it,’ I kept telling her."
But mere months after their wedding, the clinical trial Laurin had been a part of, couldn't keep her on due to cancer infecting her spleen. "It was a crushing blow after how well things had been going, and we were becoming more and more hopeful for a future together up to this point."
Then one day, Michael got a call from his wife. "‘I do not feel well,’ she said." So he made his way back to her immediately. "She was so uncomfortable, we had a hospice nurse meet us at the house when we got home. She checked all of Laurin’s vitals and said everything seemed fine. Her pain got worse and worse and the hospice nurse came back a few hours later, took her vitals again, and told me we were losing her."
"We knew time was short, but we thought we had months, not hours. Laurin could not get comfortable anywhere. I spent the evening trying to help as much as I could – we kept giving her morphine every 15 minutes which did not even seem to help. I eventually picked her up and carried her to our bed. Within minutes, she had passed away," he wrote.
"Looking back on this time, there is so much more I wish I could have said to her, but I was at such a loss for words. I just held her hand and kept thanking her for the past few years, for making me a better person, for teaching me how to love. I have no idea how much of this she heard or exactly when I lost her, I just kept talking until the nurse came in and checked her pulse and let me know she was gone."
"I have no idea how she kept a smile on her face every day, even through constant pain, medical procedures, and bad news. She was the first person in my life that I cared for more than myself and would have done anything for. Of course, we had our moments like any couple would, but we always focused on making each other’s lives better. I have a huge hole in my heart which I fear will never be filled. But I have so many amazing memories of our time together."
"As I write this almost a year later, I have continued to take a lot of the trips we were planning, and trying to continue fulfilling many of her wishes. 'Til we meet again, my love,'" ended Michael.