Bonny Senger wasn't looking for a relationship when she met Todd Lasky.
It was 13 months to the day after her boyfriend, 42-year-old Mike Petersen, died in a hiking accident in the Montana Rockies when she met the Bismarck Air Medical pilot on July 4 in Mandan while out with friends.
"We were not looking for a relationship, and it just happened," Senger said. "It was magic. It was a perfect relationship."
She and Lasky were together for five months before he died Sunday night in an air ambulance crash northwest of Mandan. Paramedic Chris Iverson and nurse Bonnie Cook also lost their lives in the crash.
Senger said Lasky was with her and her children when he received the medical call and went to change.
"I always said when he changed, 'You got your super suit on,'" Senger said. "So we had a laugh about that, and then we hugged and kissed and said, 'I love you.'"
Lasky, 48, sent her a text message when he took off, saying he loved her — part of the couple's protocol when he flew, Senger said.
But he never followed up with a phone call like he did when he would land.
That's when Senger said she knew something was wrong.
'I totally trust God'
After Lasky's death, Senger said she's found strength from her faith, as she has before.
"I totally trust God," she said. "This is terrible, and the only thing I can do is trust that there's a bigger plan. It's very hard.
"I've always been a very spiritual person, but after Mike died, I really dug in deep. That pretty much broke me to the core. It broke me, but I learned a lot."
Senger, 54, also said she's stayed hopeful and positive after Lasky's death, though watching a procession from the coroner's office to the funeral home was hard, but beautiful.
"It seems more real today," she said.
In their time together — a "spiritual union" — Senger said she met someone like her in so many ways.
Strangely enough, Lasky was similar to Petersen too, Senger said — they were both hard workers, jacks-of-all-trades, animal lovers.
Lasky also respected her love for Petersen, she said — from her many pictures of him to her regular visits to his headstone.
"He was very loving and patient, and he knew that I loved Mike deeply and he didn't care — it was like he loved that about me," Senger said. "It was perfect. It was right."
Lasky and Senger also shared a similar career field — she's a physician recruiter, while he flew for Bismarck Air Medical.
Losing two men she loved in tragedies, Senger said is harder than other loss. She said she had experienced her father's death after his decline from dementia over five years, which she said gave her a chance to grieve and say goodbye.
This is different.
"This overnight-lose-somebody thing is — I don't know. I think right now, I'm like — I think I'm still not totally getting it," Senger said. "I don't really believe it's true."
'You love deep and then you grieve deep'
Senger said she would do it all again with Lasky, even though their time together was short.
"It's been a journey, but you know, you love deep and then you grieve deep," Senger said. "Grief is just because you love somebody, and I guess it's part of love. It's part of life."
Jon Ternes, Bismarck Air Medical's director of operations, said Lasky picked up a "pep in his step" when he met Senger last summer.
Lasky's family has a Catholic funeral planned in Virginia, Minn., his hometown. A public memorial is planned for 10 a.m. Monday at the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck to honor Lasky, Cook and Iverson.
Senger said she hopes she can honor Lasky's memory with a memorial headstone in Bismarck.
Tammy Barboni, Lasky's only sibling, said her brother was a police officer in Hibbing, Minn., for a dozen years before attending flight school at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. It was after the Sept. 11 attacks that Lasky made his career move, his sister said.
"My brother is and always has been a hero," she said.
Lasky owned a small repair shop in Bismarck and liked to build and fix motorcycles. He was a kind and compassionate person, an all-around wonderful man, Barboni said.
Senger said she and Lasky had discussed getting married, even though they weren't considering it after their previous marriages.
"We talked about it. Someday," Senger said.
"I think we were soulmates."