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Touching Love Story
Married to a Stranger Part 2

Married to a Stranger Part 1 | 2

 

Emergency medic Combs remembers his plea, "If my wife's going to die, I want to be there."
By the time Kim reached Albuquerque five hours later, Krickitt was in a coma. The next morning on Thanksgiving, her parents flew in from Phoenix. However doctors held out little hope.
Kim recalls, "We went to the chapel and started praying."
That day, the swelling started to subside and her dangerously low blood pressure slowly began to rise. In five days, she went off life support. Ten days after the accident, she emerged from her coma and she was transferred to Phoenix's Barrow Neurological Institute.

When a nurse asked her what year it was three weeks after the accident, Krickitt responded, "1969."
She was able to name her parents.
But when the nurse asked, "Who's your husband?"
She replied, "I'm not married."

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Tests soon showed that she had maintained most of her long-term memory. As for her husband, he was a complete stranger and she felt nothing for him.
"I don't have a visual memory in my head and I have no memory in my heart," she says now.

Kim remembers comforting himself by saying, "This isn't my wife; my wife is in this body, trapped and trying to get out."
He worked to encourage her rehabilitation. But Krickitt found his presence and pep talks annoying.

"I think she resented his pushing because at that point she wasn't Krickitt," says her mother, Mary, adding that the process of re-teaching her daughter the most basic tasks "was like raising her again."
Facing medical bills in excess of two hundred thousand dollars and relentless bill collectors, Kim returned to his Las Vegas job with serious doubts about the future.
"I honestly didn't think our marriage would work," says Kim, but he wouldn't give up.
"I made a vow before God," he explains,
"'Until death do you part.'"

Making steady progress, Krickitt travelled with her mother to visit Kim, and then returned on her own to see him again.
"I figured, if I fell in love with this guy before, I guess I just need to meet him again," says Krickitt.

Almost five months after the crash, she moved back in with him. However, their life together was difficult. Her injuries had caused deep emotional swings and left her quick-tempered. She was also baffled by her re-entry into marriage.
"I remember asking, 'How did I do the wife thing? Did I cook for you? Did I bring you lunch?'"
Her neurological problems posed other difficulties. She was unable to drive and couldn't remember directions.

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She tired easily and her emotions were jumbled. She would laugh when she meant to cry and cry when she meant to laugh.
Says Kim, "I was thinking, 'Man, I'm living with someone with two different personalities."'

She has slowly regained control of her life and returned to work in August 1994. Nevertheless, a new personality emerged - a blend of her old self with new, more outgoing traits. (She is likely to have chronic lingering effects, including short-term memory lapses and occasional clumsiness.) It was difficult to make the marriage work again.
Mike Hill, a therapist the couple started seeing in fall 1994 pinpointed the problem, saying, "There wasn't that emotional attachment that comes through the early part of the relationship. You need to establish some memories of your own."
So Kim and Krickitt began dating again - chatting over pizza, shopping, jet skiing at a nearby lake.
"I got to know my husband again," says Krickitt.
"There was a point when I really started to enjoy this companion. I would miss him if he wasn't around."

This year on Valentine's Day, Kim proposed again. Krickitt accepted.
"I could've not fallen in love with him again, but the Lord didn't allow that," she says.
On May 25, the two again exchanged rings. The rings were new and they also read newly written vows.
"Only one thing can surpass the painful events we have felt," Kim told her.
"That is the love I have for you."

By Thomas Fields-Meyer and Michael Haederle

Married to a Stranger Part 1 | 2

 

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