Veteran fulfills last wish of marrying girlfriend shortly before passing away from liver cancer
WAVERLY, Iowa - An Iowa National Guard veteran spent the last few hours of his life fulfilling a wish to marry the love of his life before passing away from a rare form of liver cancer.
When Tristin and Tianna Laue first met, she said they bonded over their mutual love of dogs, and he loved her German Shepherd named Max.
Tristin, described by Tianna as an incredibly smart man who "almost always" knew the answers to "Jeopardy!" trivia, entered the United States Army National Guard in July of 2016. Tristin was diagnosed with liver cancer when he came home from boot camp, Tianna said, and he was later medically discharged in April of 2018.
In 2018, Tristin also began studying engineering design at the University of Northern Iowa, according to loved ones, who added that he was "very goal oriented and had a bright future ahead of him."
Tianna said when the pair started dating, Tristin was getting his last round of immunotherapy and the complications started shortly after.
He proposed to Tianna this past Easter, she said. Tristin, 20, was exactly one year older than Tianna, who shares his birthday on May 11.
"Tristin actually wanted (the ceremony) on our birthday," she said.
"He said he wanted to make sure I wanted it because he was in rough shape and wanted to be fair to me," Tianna added. "And I said of course I wanted to marry him. I always told him it wasn't that easy to get rid of me so I'd always be there."
On the Wednesday following Easter, Tristin's family learned the wedding would need to be soon. Within 48 hours, Tianna said they had everything they needed for the ceremony.
"Tristin was just excited to be marrying me so he was ready for it," she said.
The wedding was held in the backyard of Tristin's father and stepmother's home, complete with a big tent and about 40 guests in attendance, including their parents, siblings and a few aunts and uncles.
"When I met him at the end of the aisle we looked at each other and he smiled in a way I hadn't seen in a long time. I got teary eyed and could hear the bridesmaids breaking down," she said. "I knew no matter what I'd always love him and he'd always love me."
Hours after the two became husband and wife, Tristin passed away from complications of fibrolamellar liver cancer.
Tianna said he was the best thing to ever happen to her and the pair "never went to bed angry."
"I feel blessed to have loved and been loved by such an amazing brave man," she said.
A GoFundMe Page was created by some of Tristin's former classmates to raise money for a memorial bench in his honor. They described him as someone who "brought laughter and kindness" to everyone.
"The class of 2016 mourns our beloved classmate Tristin Laue. We thought it would be a great opportunity to honor him with a memorial bench and his name on the Chickasaw Legacy Pathway," the GoFundMe states. "Give as little or as much as you'd like. All proceeds will be going directly to the memorial as well as any funds left over will be going to help his loved ones in any way they need! Help us remember a great Chickasaw who brought laughter and kindness to us all!"
This story was reported from Los Angeles.