'Don't wait': Groom's wedding vows used in his obituary instead

·3 min read

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer."

Those are the words Mike Bulmer wanted to tell his wife on their wedding day, but he was too sick with an aggressive cancer that would take his life less than two months after his diagnosis.

Instead, his vows to Karen Doyle-Bulmer became part of his obituary.

His wife says he did get his dying wish - not to leave this world without marrying her.

The couple's October wedding was planned in less than six days, shortly after Bulmer was diagnosed with bile duct cancer.

They wed in her ground floor apartment in Riverview. Pandemic restrictions meant only 10 guests were allowed; others who loved them looked on through the window from the parking lot outside, she said

It wasn’t a good day health-wise for Mike, Doyle-Bulmer said. He had been a bit better the day before and would be a bit stronger the day after, but on their wedding day, his strength was gone by 5:30 p.m. and he had to go back to bed. The wedding was short, simple and not what they had hoped for when he first proposed, she said.

Getting married in 2020 had always been on the cards, said Doyle-Bulmer. Mike proposed to her in St. Martins in 2019, and they planned to marry in August 2020, followed by a honeymoon in Ireland. Her save-the-date cards had only just arrived in March when COVID did too, and the province began to shut down.

“COVID put an end to those plans,” she said.

Mike became noticeably ill in the summer and received the official cancer diagnosis on Oct. 19, 2020, she said. “It was an extremely aggressive cancer," she said, noting by that time "it had already metastasized to his pancreas, stomach and small bowel.”

The couple, both married previously, met in 2003 when they were in their late forties through an online dating app they had seen advertised in the newspaper, said Doyle-Bulmer. “I knew the day we met that he was my person.”

On the day of their wedding, they were 65 and 64, she said.

On Nov. 28, he died in their bed in their apartment, where Doyle-Bulmer said their dreams of what they would do together in retirement were only beginning.

Doyle-Bulmer said she feels like her life has stopped. “He was the one who got groceries. He was my caretaker. He was a good man.”

Mike left her with a new last name, his love - and a trailer.

The trailer was a purchase he made while ill despite her saying it didn’t make sense, but he insisted it could be the last thing he could buy for her. The dream was to use it in St. Martins, a place they’d fallen in love with - their “happy place,” she said.

But he never got to use it.

Her message to others? From seeing a doctor if you suspect something is wrong, to saying I love you, “don’t wait.”

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal