Michele + Eugene met toward the end of 2014 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, courtesy of eHarmony. “I had almost left the site after a bad experience, but stuck around a little longer, and heard from Eugene about a week later. Our first date was at a Starbucks, and we enjoyed chatting for so long that I forgot to text my friends, who were concerned I’d been kidnapped or murdered. (Clearly I was not.) After talking til closing time at several restaurants over the next few weeks, it was clear that something good was happening between us. By Valentines Day 2015, we were officially a couple, though we essentially had been since the first date anyway.”
In May 2019, Michele + Eugene took a memorable trip together to the national parks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “Our 2019 trip included unexpected snow, hiking in the giant Sequoia trees in a thunder-snowstorm with almost nobody else around, several black bear sightings, two different hikes to waterfalls in either pouring rain or falling ice pellets, multiple trails covered in running water from snowmelt, and wildly unpredictable driving conditions. We were soggy, but loving the journey.” On one of the last days of the trip, during a very difficult hike, Eugene got down on one knee and popped the question. “Clearly I said yes! We were dusty, sweaty, and exhausted, but it couldn’t have been more perfect for us.”
But just like so much of the world, 2020 brought with it some unexpected hurdles for Michele + Eugene. “For us, this photo session was more about celebrating the challenges we’ve overcome together this year and looking ahead to better times. Originally, we just intended to commemorate ‘the wedding that wasn’t’ as we’d already moved our August 1st wedding to next summer due to the pandemic. We had no idea what I (and we) would be dealing with this summer instead. Slightly under 12 weeks before the session, at roughly the same time of night, I was on an operating table with my chest split open after two cardiac arrests from massive blood clots in my lungs. Eugene was in a waiting room, with no idea what was going to happen. Thankfully I made it through with minimal long-term complications, but there was a long road to recovery. He wasn’t allowed to see me in the hospital because of the pandemic, but our nightly phone calls were so comforting. Once I got home, he was so supportive throughout – rearranging my pillows when I was crying from pain, gently helping me get out of the chair I practically lived in for awhile, bringing me the half cup of coffee I was allowed, making me meals when I could barely open the door of the fridge. Surely I was not the easiest person to be around – there were A LOT of emotions – but we rarely lost patience with each other. It was the most difficult time in my life so far, and I couldn’t have gotten through it without him. Once I started cardiac rehab and my sternum healed more, I gained strength and slowly started to feel like myself again. We were grateful for a few trips to the cabin in Traverse City to take it easy and be in a place we loved. I thought about postponing our photo session, but we decided to keep it – new chest scar and all – to celebrate making it to other side of this ordeal together. Those sand dunes were a bit of a challenge, but they marked the start of getting back to normal – well, as normal as 2020 can be! We’re looking forward to 2021 and celebrating our love that was made even stronger this year.”
Michele + Eugene, your story is one of resilience and true love. Congrats on your engagement. And here’s to 2021!