How far would you go to be at the bedside of a loved one who’s in critical condition—dying, really, from a brutal car accident? How far would you go—or could you go—if you yourself had an ear that was almost torn off, a nose that was almost severed, a hand that was broken, two ribs that were cracked, a lung that was scraped, a heart muscle that was bruised and, to top it all off, a concussion?
Kim Carpenter declined immediate treatment for his long list of accident-induced traumas so he could be driven in freezing rain to his dying wife’s bedside. While his devotion to his wife amidst intense physical pain is laudable, perhaps even more inspiring is his resolve to endure the emotional pain that would come from loving beyond the good times and well into the bad.
When Kim’s wife Krickitt miraculously woke up from her coma, she had no recollection she was a married woman. Her husband Kim was a stranger to her; and, 19 years later, she still hasn’t recovered the memory of their September 18, 1993, wedding or the dating period leading up to it.
With divorce rates of almost 50% in Canada and the US (and 80-90% when a married person has a debilitating head injury), Kim’s commitment to his vow is tragically rare. Remaining committed to Krickitt was not easy—not only did she forget about Kim, but accident trauma caused her personality to change dramatically—she suddenly threw tantrums, swore, and was easily angered.
Kim reflected, “She no longer thought she was my wife. She didn’t want to be mine. In the disoriented state she was in, she did not know what she wanted. I felt she had no more love for me. Just a few months after our wedding, the woman I had married seemingly hated me. And it was breaking my heart.”
Amidst this, some fell prey to the ways of the world, alluding to Kim he consider divorce. His response? “No. It will never happen.” Kim reflected, “It didn’t matter whether Krickitt remembered me or not, whether it took every penny I had to take care of her, or even whether we ultimately lived together or apart. The simple truth was that I couldn’t see myself going through life without the woman I loved—the woman I had vowed to protect through times of challenge and need.”
It’s easy to love when it’s easy, but hard to love when it’s not. But what sets apart those who inspire from those who do not—how they respond when times are tough. And Kim keeps the bar high by deciding to fall in love again, to invest in his relationship, to learn about his wife’s new personality, to focus not on what their relationship once was but what it could be, and to figure out how to make this unexpected situation work.
Kim said, “We don’t dwell on the bad times but look ahead to the amazing things we know God still has in store for us…It would have been so easy for either of us to give up during the long and sometimes dark years during and after the accident, but with God’s help we didn’t. I often think about the story of Job that Krickitt and I read the first time we met each other. There were many times when I identified completely with this poor servant who went from a life of plenty and happiness to the pit of despair. Yet the Lord brought him through it and eventually heaped riches on him far greater than what he had lost.”
Almost two decades later, Kim and Krickitt are happily married and the proud parents of two children. Their family motto to “do the right thing” is something we all could remember when life hands out the hard times it inevitably will deal.