Happiness in Love

Love is….forgetting to remember your reasons for loving

The Vow: A Soulmate Story

It’s hard enough finding true love even once in a lifetime, don’t you agree? Though we all play games and jump through hoops to make our relationships work, in the right kind of relationship, everything just works out organically. There’s no confusion or doubt, you don’t have to spend endless hours constructing sassy, pithy text messages and you certainly won’t be agonizing over why he hasn’t called. Krickitt Carpenter had the kind of enviable picture-perfect relationship — but when she lost her memory during a nearly fatal car accident, she also lost all feelings for her husband, Kim. But can two true soulmates ever really be torn apart?

That’s the premise between the new Rachel McAdams/Channing Tatum romantic weepie, The Vow, a film which tells the true story of how Krickitt learned to fall in love with the same man all over again, despite the fact that he became a complete stranger to her after her car wreck.

Krickitt was was 24 when she met Kim. The former gymnast was a recent college graduate, working as a sales rep in a Southern Californian sports goods company. Kim, 27, was a baseball coach at New Mexico Highlands University, almost 1000 miles away.

When Kim called to place an order for himself and his fellow coaches, Krickitt was on the other end of the line. “There was a connection immediately,” he told the UK’s Daily Mail. “So I kept calling, ordering more jackets than one man could wear in a lifetime, and she would sent me little personal notes with all of my orders. She was so vibrant, bubbly and cheerful, her personality was just infectious.”

They began speaking on the phone for hours at a time, and after six months of nonstop conversation, Kim invited Krickitt to visit him in New Mexico. “It was just like finally meeting my best friend,” he says. They were soon flying to visit one another every weekend, and in June, Kim proposed. Three months later, they were married.

Fast forward ten weeks to November. The couple was driving from their home in Las Vegas, New Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with his extended family. Krickitt was driving. When she tried to pass a slow-moving tractor trailer, she was hit from behind by a different truck. Her car skidded 100 feet and the impact ripped off its roof.

Kim had broken ribs and a broken nose. He was much better off than his wife, who had to be cut out of the wreckage and was airlifted, unconscious, to a nearby hospital.

She would stay there in, a coma, for four months.

When she woke up, she had no memory of the two years leading up to the accident. She had no memory of who her husband was. The love of her life was a complete stranger.

Though she slowly but surely recovered her long-term memory, her short-term memory was shot.

She said: “The nurses asked me what I could remember of my husband, but I told them “I’m not married’. I could recall names of some previous boyfriends, but nothing of this man who had apparently not left my bedside for months.

‘When I came round from the coma, I had no memory of this whirlwind romance. My parents told me that I was married to this man, and they wouldn’t lie to me, so I knew that I must have loved him deeply. But I had no feelings for him at all, and as hard as I tried, I could not conjure up those feelings.”

Can you even imagine what that must have been like, for both of them? For Kim, realizing he had found the one, but that she didn’t remember loving him, and for Krickitt, having to play doting wife to someone who was little more than a stranger? It’s a tragedy of epic proportions.

Though it would take time and patience and the realization that she might never recover her memory, Kim wasn’t going to give up on the love of his life.  He had made the ’til death do us part’ vow, and he was sticking to it.

“Not only did she not remember that we were married, but she didn’t even recognize me,’ said the now-46-year-old. “I was devastated, of course, but I tried not to dwell on it, because I was just so glad she was alive. I had made my vows to Krickitt and there was no way I would ever have abandoned her. I knew the incredible woman she was before the accident and the woman she could be again. However angry she became, and however much we argued, I knew that I had to keep trying. I thought she may never remember me again, and even if she does, she may never want anything to do with me, but I was not going to leave until she had the consciousness to look me in the eye and tell it was over. Until then, I wasn’t going to give up on her.”

It wasn’t an easy process, especially because Krickitt had nothing invested in loving Kim, as she didn’t even remember him. But after countless counseling sessions and a mutual agreement to take things slow and ‘date’ before rushing into love, Krickitt soon fell for her husband a second time.

“Slowly and steadily, we created those memories together, and everything else slowly started to fall into place,” she said. “Slowly, over time, my love did grow for Kim deeply, but it was never a fluffy, gooey falling-in-love feeling again. I know that is what everyone wants to hear, but that is not what happened second time around. My heart didn’t skip beats; I didn’t feel swept off my feet. I would love to have felt that, but it isn’t the truth – I made a choice to love him.”

Three years after the accident, the couple married for a second time so that Krickitt could have actual memories of her wedding day. They are now the proud parents of 11-year-old son Danny and 8-year-old daughter, Leann.

Though the nature of her feelings for Kim changed when she lost her memory, Krickitt is still happy for the life — and love — she has. She said: “We’ve been married for been 18 years now so I have plenty of memories with Kim. And while our relationship is not the same as it was before, I think it’s stronger for everything we’ve been through.”

There are two ways of looking at the Carpenters’ story. You can feel sorry for them that they lost their all-consuming passion, or you can be happy for them that they got a second chance at loving each other. Second chances are rare, so I’m going with option B.

Love is a shape shifter. Looks and passion fade. Romantic love goes away. You need more than just a physical or chemical connection to sustain love.

If you’re lucky enough to find that, make a vow to yourself: never let it go.

 

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About the Author: Laura Schreffler is a former New York Daily News columnist who left the world of celebrity behind to focus on what makes her happiest — love and travel. She is the creator of LoveTrekker.com — a website devoted to these two passions that she fondly calls “looking for love in all the right places.” In her spare time she likes to play matchmaker for her friends, dream about her next vacation and gaze at photographs of Taylor Kitsch. For more advice on love, relationships, and happiness, check out http://lovetrekker.com & her book "Internet Dating 101". And follow her here at Happiness Series with her weekly blog about finding love.