The thread that connects the relationship of Henriette Myrthil, who is known to all as Hank, and Kenneth Balkaran, is their status as front-line medical workers.
Ms. Myrthil, now 46, and Mr. Balkaran, now 38, first spotted each other in 2005 at NYU. Langone Health, where she was a unit patient associate and he was an E.M.T. He was in another relationship at the time. So it wasn’t until 2009, when he had been single for nearly a year, that his E.M.T. partner got tired of hearing him obsessing about the vibrant, energetic woman in the emergency room, and marched his telephone number over to Ms. Myrthil.
“I know that I was instantly in love from the moment I saw her,” Mr. Balkaran said. “But I am a very shy person, the total opposite of what she is.”
Ms. Myrthil also remembers when she first saw Mr. Balkaran, who had a previous marriage that ended in divorce, and a daughter as well. “He was saving a life, performing CPR on a patient,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh wow, this is nice, to have someone who can save a life.’”
As she grew to know Mr. Balkaran, she realized that it wasn’t just his job that compelled him to pitch in to help someone else out. “I think he has a natural caring spirit — it’s not forced,” she said.
In 2009, they had their first date — and their first kiss — at a bar and restaurant in New York that was having a reggae night, soon after his E.M.T. partner facilitated their introduction. Mr. Balkaran is now studying for certification as a paramedic, and working as an E.M.T. at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and at Mount Sinai Hospital, both in New York. Ms. Myrthil, who graduated from Syracuse University, is now a hospital-bed management coordinator at NYU Langone. The two had a second date soon after their first.
“She was very standoffish, had her guard way up,” he said. “After her guard went down, that’s it. She was head over heels.”
Ms. Myrthil’s recounting of their story is much the same. “When he introduced me to his daughter, I was like, ‘This is not just going to be a fling,’” she said. “Both of us realized that we were in love.’”
The couple planned a trip to Las Vegas in November 2019, and as both love Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” a television series, Mr. Balkaran contacted the Gordon Ramsay restaurant there and told them that he planned to propose during dinner.
A waiter met him at the door and took him aside on a pretext, then asked for the ring and instructed him which dessert he should order.
“And they come out with this glass dome and dry ice, like smoke, in it, and once they opened it, there was the ring,” he said. “She almost passed out.”
On June 26, on the steps of the New York Public Library, the couple were married. The Rev. Roxanne Birchfield, a minister of the Evangelical Church Alliance, officiated, with 40 people attending.
Ms. Myrthil, who will be taking her husband’s name, bought a plain white dress and earrings from Bloomingdale’s, and Mr. Balkaran, in a bow to his bride’s wish to have a pink-themed wedding, wore a pink jacket instead of a tuxedo.
“We seized this opportunity because we didn’t have to have the big, old, traditional wedding,” she said. “During this time, we said let’s just get married.”
Mr. Balkaran said that, as front-line medical workers, the couple came to realize they probably shouldn’t wait for a break in the coronavirus pandemic to seal their commitment.
“Being on the front lines, battling Covid-19 and witnessing firsthand the death and destruction caused by this disease, I knew life was short,” Mr. Balkaran said. “Plus, I wanted to make her happy.”