As Mary Beth Taylor-Eslary said goodbye to her husband one day in May 2015, she had no idea that it would be for the last time. But months later Taylor-Eslary paid tribute to her spouse in the most touching way possible.
In the summer of 2015, Taylor-Eslary and her beloved dog Blek posed for photographer Christy Boyd in a range of pictures. According to Boyd’s Facebook page, “Photography is the perfect way to capture all of life’s precious moments.” She added, “It’s my pleasure to help you capture those ‘Memories.’”
In the images, Taylor-Eslary and Blek pose side-by-side as Taylor-Eslary holds up a series of signs. And while the photographs may seem fairly unassuming at first, their poignancy soon becomes clear. After all, Boyd was inspired to photograph the Pennsylvania-based pair after hearing their tragic story.
Therefore, the placards that Taylor-Eslary held told their tale. “Once upon a time I fell in love with a police officer,” read the first sign. “We lived, we laughed, we loved,” another image continued.
“We had ups and downs, but together we had it all,” another image revealed. “Then one day my partner had to go to heaven,” read another sign, propped up just against Blek. This shot also featured an image of the dog and his partner, a uniformed police officer.
“The world lost another hero,” another sign added. “But someday we will see him again.” The series continued with a poster that said, “Until then he will be forever in our hearts,” before signing off with, “In loving memory of my husband and my partner.”
Certainly, the images are striking, and photographer Boyd’s services are unique too. After all, rather than working for a fee, Boyd asks her clients to make a donation to the Brandon J. Boyd Memorial Scholarship fund. Boyd established the fund in honor of her late stepson, who sadly died in a car incident.
So Boyd was moved to contact Taylor-Eslary shortly after Taylor-Eslary lost her policeman husband. In fact, Eric Eslary lost his life in May 2015 following a car crash. The other driver was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Yes, Eslary had just completed a night shift with his K-9 partner Blek when Clair Fink III hit him. Fink, who had reportedly been out drinking beer in the hours prior to the incident, had mistakenly set off eastwards in a westbound lane.
In the moments following the accident, loyal Blek refused to leave his dying partner’s side. Recounting the heartbreaking scenes, Police Chief Michael Matrunics said, “Blek is a fully protective of Eric. When I would walk near the car, even though Blek’s been with me, smelled me, I got to spend time with him, Blek still would bark like crazy when I would step next to the car.”
In fact, Blek had only stood down when Taylor-Eslary arrived on the scene. During what must have been one of the most traumatic experiences of her life, the mom had to order the dog away from her husband. “K9s are trained to protect their partner. It was a very, very difficult experience for everyone involved,” Matrunics said.
Paramedics rushed Eslary to hospital, but sadly he succumbed to his injuries just one hour later. The crash also severely injured Blek, who suffered a multitude of spinal injuries and a ruptured spleen. Of course, the dog recovered, but the police force later retired him from active duty.
To make matters worse, Eslary’s death came at what was already a difficult time for his wife. After all, Taylor-Eslary had just found out that she was suffering multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, and doctors have yet to discover a cure. However, before his untimely death, Eslary had vowed to help his wife through the illness.
In fact, the couple had not married prior to Taylor-Eslary’s diagnosis. But they sweetly decided to tie the knot shorty afterward. Both had been wed before, and Taylor-Eslary became a stepmom to Eslary’s three kids from a previous relationship.
So, after hearing their heartbreaking story, photographer Boyd wanted to help. In fact, she had the idea for the moving 12 images after discovering a similar series that depicted one Rebecca Jones and her three children in the wake of Jones’ police officer husband’s death in 2014. Luckily, Taylor-Eslary agreed.
And Boyd couldn’t have been happier with the results. Sharing the set on Facebook, the photographer wrote, “To say I was honored to take these photos is putting it mildly.” She later explained, “I just wanted it to be perfect. To me, this is telling their love story.”
And Taylor-Eslary agreed. The widow confessed that her life with Eslary was never dull, and they were always making each other smile. “A true love story. It really was,” she said. “He was the love of my life, for sure.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the poignant picture series proved a big hit after Boyd posted it online. In fact, the album has clocked up over 30,000 reactions on Facebook and garnered close to 2,000 comments from well-wishers.
“These photos are very humbling,” read one kind comment. “It’s a reminder of how precious life really is. Each picture made such a strong statement it took my breath away. Thank you for bringing us all back to reality. God bless the ones who sacrifice everything and the ones who show continued support.”
And although life will never be the same for Taylor-Eslary and Blek again, they are helping each other manage the day-to-day ups and downs. After all, they both shared their lives with the same man. “It’s an honor for me to be taking care of Blek,” Taylor-Eslary confessed.