Earlier this summer, 35-year-old Billy Burgoyne got the worst news anyone could receive: doctors told him that his long fight with cancer was soon going to end because he only had a short time to live.
When he went for another appointment on July 14, the timeline was much worse.
“He was told he had about 48 hours left to live,” said Nikita Mahar, his longtime girlfriend.
Burgoyne and Mahar had been a couple for almost 17 years. Immediately after the appointment, they decided they would officially tie the knot.
“We always said we wouldn’t do it, we always said, Why ruin a perfect thing?” said Mahar, from her home in Ecum Secum, N.S., located two hours east of Halifax. “So we moved pretty quickly to have the wedding in his grandfather’s yard.”
The decision to get married set their home community of Ecum Secum abuzz. The weather was picture perfect with nothing but beautiful sunshine. The wedding was combined with a celebration of life for Billy and lots of people came to see the wedding and say goodbye.
“There were so many people that showed up,” said Mahar. “People from every ball team he played for and against, the road was just blocked with vehicles.”
Billy and Nikita were married for four days. On July 20, Billy died peacefully at home with his family and a few of his closest friends at his side.
Billy spent the majority of his life living in Ecum Secum. He loved sports, hunting and most of all, fishing. He and Nikita both worked in the commercial lobster fishery. Billy also worked on herring fishing crews and recreational fishing was another of his great loves in life.
“We had our rings on and we did our kiss and the moment the wedding was over he looked at everyone in the crowd and he said, ‘I hope you all know, I’m going trout fishing at 4:30,'” said Mahar.
Billy wasn’t kidding. After spending time at the social gathering, he left shortly before five o’clock for his last fishing trip.
His battle with cancer was a long fight that went back 10 years. At one point his cancer had gone into remission, but it came back with a vengeance a year ago.
Mahar says her memories of Billy will never fade over time.
“When it came to our wedding kiss he stood up so fast, and because his legs hadn’t been working very well, it really shocked me,” said Mahar. “He kissed me.”