“It gave me some of the best years of my life. I’d rather have five years of being in love and just really completely happy than 20 years of not having anybody.”
With their livesbearing striking similarities, it’s no wonder that Katie and Dalton Prager have been dubbed the real-life Fault in Our Stars couple. And like the film, their story is as magical as it is heartbreaking.
The twomet online when they were just 18 years old. Since they both had cystic fibrosis and Dalton carried a contagious infection, they were strongly warned not to meet face-to-face.
However, nothing could stop these passionate teens from living out their love story, even if it meant their lives would be cut short.
Dalton made the six-hour road trip from St. Charles, Missouri, to Katie’s hometown of Flemingsburg, Kentucky. Beyond meeting face-to-face, they both knew that kissing each other could hold an even more deadly consequence, as Katie was very susceptible to contracting Dalton’sBurkholderia cepacia.
Nevertheless, the first time they met, Katie kissed Dalton as she swooned against the brick wall of the local Dairy Queenand she doesn’t hold a single regret. Within just days of meeting each other, they knew this was meant to be forever, even if their “little infinity” was but a fleeting moment in time.
Two years later, they were married.
Over the next fiveyears, the two relentlesslyfought their uphill health battle together. From matching oxygen tanks to IV drips to lung transplants and countless operations, Katie and Dalton were taken through the hospital ringerbut nothing could thwart their will to live, or more importantly, their will to love one another through it all.
Family, friends and strangers inspired by their storyrallied behind the couple to help them get their new lungs.
In 2014, Dalton received his transplant first, and he was separated from Katiefor eightlong months while she battled with insurance to get coverage for her own transplant.
They were hopeful that their new lungs would give them the second shot at life they’d been praying for, but sadly that was not the case. Dalton got lymphoma, and Katie’s transplant quickly started to go downhill. She soon developed lymphoma as well while Dalton contracted a severe case of pneumonia.
With nothing left for the doctors to do, Katie was placed under hospice care at her Kentucky home in September, and Dalton was sent toBarnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to be hooked up to a ventilator.
Katie wrote the following message ontheir shared Facebook page:
The past week has been very emotional and decisions have been made that arent meant to be made by someone in their 20s with their whole life ahead of them There are too many things going on in my body to be able to fix everything. Things appear to be going downhill faster than I thought they would. My hospice nurse is coming out today to get everything set up. I wont have to go back to the hospital or get anymore IVs. I get to spend the rest of my time surrounded by people and things that make me happy. Please dont take this as a sign of me giving up. Its the last thing I want people to remember of me.
Her dying wish was to see Dalton one last time before she died, but she never got the chance.
He told me before he was not going to die in the hospital but surrounded by loved ones, wrote Dalton’s mom, Renee. Hes making sure of it with Gods help!
However, in spite of his fight and strong faith, Dalton was unable tosee that dream come to fruition.
Hebecame far too sick to be transferred to see Katie, and on September 17, 2016, he passed away as he talked to his beloved wife one last time on FaceTime. He was only 25 years old.
“She told him that she loved him,” said Katie’s mother, Debra. “We don’t know if he heard her.”
Katie wrote this heartfelt messageon Facebook shortly after Dalton’s passing:
“My angel, my best friend, the love of my life, my husband went to be with the Lord our God today. Dalton fought a long hard battle with Cystic Fibrosis. He was a courageous fighter and ‘give up’ wasn’t in his vocabulary. Thank you for all of your love, prayers and kind words that you have shown to us over the past few years. God bless each of you. -Katie”
In the same post, his mom Renee wrote, “Today…..September 17, 2016 at 12:56 Dalton Lee Prager joined his sister, Samantha, and grandfather, Larry, in Heaven. You may Breathe Easy now my son. You are my true hero. ~~Love Forever, Mom”
Just twodays before he died, Renee posted one of Dalton’s favorite Bible verses that he wrote on a sticky note for his confirmation.
It was Psalm 41:3: “The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness you restore him to health.”
Dalton’sfaith fueled him with perseverance, positivity and hope until the day he died.
Though their short time together was never easy, Katie claims that every ounce of it was worth it.
Rightbefore Dalton passed away, she told CNN she’ll never regret meeting Daltonin person, even if not doing so may have meant a longer life span.
Her words were beautifully reminiscent of Hazel’s words to Gus at the end of TheFault in Our Stars: