All love stories are beautiful, but some are so powerful they remind us what it really means to love another human being with a pure and compassionate heart.
When Ian and Larissa first met at college, they were like any other young couple. Larissa loved Ian’s sense of humour, and, connected by their mutual Christian faith, the pair soon began to talk marriage.
But before they could plan their wedding and begin their future together, Ian needed to save up enough money for an engagement ring, and it was while travelling to his workplace just one year after meeting Larissa, that he was involved in a car crash which left him in a coma for many months. On waking, the traumatic brain injury he’d incurred meant he couldn’t speak, eat or walk, and he could only communicate through blinks.
Devastated, Larissa could have walked away and gone about rebuilding her own life. Instead, she moved in with Ian’s family and became his caretaker. As the months went on, Ian regained some speech and mobility, and four years later the couple were finally able to realise their dreams of marrying.
“One of the hardest things is just watching couples walk together and hold hands. I'll look at that and think, 'I'll never do that’,” said Larissa. “Sometimes, I come home and I feel like all I see is the brain injury instead of seeing a man who loves me [but] I didn't fall out of love with [Ian], and I didn't stop loving him. And I knew he wouldn't leave me if the role were reversed.
“What I’ve learned about our capacity to love is so rich,” she says.
As the months went on, Ian showed some progress, communicating verbally and getting around with the use of a motorised wheelchair. Four years after the accident, the Pennsylvania couple decided to get married and they recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.
Since coming to the attention of Oprah Winfrey, Ian and Larissa’s remarkable love story has been the subject of a television documentary.
In it, the couple demonstrate how not taking things too seriously has been one of the secrets to their success. “I’m as handsome as ever,” Ian told the cameras, prompting an eye roll from Larissa.