by Larissa Murphy
I sank down into my nap, covering my tired feet in the white down comforter, aching from another high-heeled day. My husband wasn’t home yet, and I was intent on making full use of this half hour of quiet.
I glanced toward the unopened mail, the dirty sheets on the chair, and the half-full cups on the table, but allowed my eyes to drift shut.
As tiredness overcame me, my mind slipped in and out of sleep, thoughts rattling around in my groggy head until I couldn’t distinguish between dreams and reality. I started feeling like I didn’t remember him anymore.
I couldn’t remember his smile. I couldn’t hear what his laugh sounded like or picture the way he walked. I couldn’t find that place in me anymore that knew him, the part of my mind that stored the tone of his voice and the way he grabbed his stomach when he laughed hard.
The thoughts I counted on to keep me going, to keep me in love, had left without asking my permission first. I couldn’t grasp them. They felt like they were stuck somewhere in the very back corners of my mind, too far tucked away.
A flashback of sitting together on his patio or a note from him singing on a voicemail would start to break through, but before I could feel and grab it, the memory would sink back in, away from me.
“Have I really forgotten him?” my semi-awake brain begged as I awaited his arrival. “Have we been this way for so long that all of his old words and sounds are gone, that my memory can’t keep them locked inside anymore? Is this all I’ll ever be able to remember of him? This? This Ian?”
Then . . . the familiar thud of the van door, scattering even these thoughts into thin air.
I hopped up, brushed sleep out of my eyes, and peered through the bathroom window. In a few minutes, he and his wheelchair would be clattering through the door.
“Hi, wifey!” he shouted from the mud room once he’d made his way inside, driven from behind by his youngest brother, Devon. Ian couldn’t control the volume of his voice anymore, and sometimes his speech was hard to understand.
But “wifey” was usually LOUD and clear. Rolling into the bedroom, he saw me and hugged me. “How was your day?” I asked.
“I don’t remember. So it must’ve been good!”
A typical response—because his short-term memory left when his brain injury came in. As a result, I was the only one of the two of us who was able to carry the memories of our marriage, or of our ten months of dating before his accident, or of anything that reminded us of what life had been like before September 30, 2006.
The day it all changed.
“Ian, I’m so sad. I’m sad for your brain injury. I’m sad you’ve had to go through this.”
“That’s why I love you,” he said. “It makes you sad because you care about me so much.”
Excerpted from Eight Twenty Eight (B&H Publishing).
Ian and Larissa Murphy met in college and fell in love. Their plans to get married and start a life together took a detour when Ian suffered a debilitating brain injury in a car accident. In an instant, their lives changed forever. In Eight Twenty Eight (B&H Publishing, August 2014), Larissa recounts the long days, weeks, and years she spent hoping and praying for God to heal Ian.
Ian and Larissa remind us falling in love is easy; partnership is hard. People often ask Larissa why she stayed with Ian. Her answer? Because love doesn’t give up. “I was staying with him because I loved him and because I still believed greater things were yet to come.”