Kim and Krickitt Carpenter are so much in love that they celebrate two
wedding anniversaries each year. They were married twice, two years
apart. In a published book entitled "The Vow," they tell their story.
Their love story has been narrated in several different titles. Here's Bonnie
Steffens' version of the story.
In November, 1993, with almost ten weeks of wedded bliss behind them, the
Highlands University baseball coach and his bride were heading to
Phoenix, Arizona for a holiday with Krickitt's parents, Gus and Mary
Krickitt took the wheel of their Ford Escort while Kim, nursing a cold,
tried to get comfortable in the back seat.
Two hours later, night had
fallen. Six miles outside Gallup, New Mexico, a slow-moving truck was
obscured behind a cloud of exhaust. Krickett saw the truck just in time.
Hitting the brakes and swerving left, she clipped the left rear of the
vehicle. A pickup truck following the Carpenters' car swerved
simultaneously and hit them with such force that the Escort flipped
one-and-a-half times and slid more than 100 feet.
"I screamed and screamed for Krickitt," says Kim, who remained conscious
through the collision. His legs were pinned, and he couldn't locate his
wife. She didn't answer him.
Krickitt was hanging upside down in the driver's seat, unconscious, the
roof of the car crushed around her skull. It would be 20 minutes before
help arrived, and another 20 before Krickitt was in the back of an
ambulance heading for the hospital. Kim was transported in a second
doctor in the Gallup emergency room handed Kim an envelope with
Krickitt's rings and watch. The former collegiate gymnast was hanging to
life by a thread, despite severe bleeding in her brain. Her chance of
survival was less than 1%. The decision was made to airlift Krickitt to
a university hospital 230 kilometers away.
Refusing treatment for his own injuries (punctured lung, bruised heart,
concussion, broken hand and facial lacerations), Kim called his dad to
pick him up. He would follow his wife to Albuquerque. "If she was going
to die, I was going to be there beside her," he said.
Kim and Krickett's family began to pray long prayers for Krickitt.
Members of the Carpenters' church drove two hours to join the prayer
sessions. "I can't emphasize enough the power of prayer," Mary
Pappas says. "There was a peace as we prayed for Krickitt."
In five days, Krickitt was taken off life support. Five days later, she
was transferred to Phoenix's Barrow Neurological Institute. There, after
ten days, she began to come out of her coma. But for the newlyweds, the
trials were just beginning. Krickitt's athletic training helped her body
respond relatively quickly, but a routine series of questions asked by a
nurse revealed a deeper wound.
"What year is it?"
"1965," Krickitt replied.
"Who's your mom?"
"Mary." One right.
"Who's your dad?"
"Gus." Two out of three.
"Who's your husband?"
As Kim held his breath, Krickitt didn't answer immediately. Finally she
said, "I'm not married." At first, Krickitt's father thought she was
kidding. Kim knew this was no laughing matter.
For the next months, Krickitt made progress physically although,
functioning in a fog. She had to re-learn everything from eating to
taking a shower. The things she seemed to pick up more easily were
skills learned earlier in life.
As she continued to be tested, the truth came out: The head injury had
caused short-term memory loss. Eighteen months of her life prior to the
accident and four months after all the time Krickitt had known, dated
and been married to Kim were erased. Added to that, her once bubbly
personality disappeared. She became negative, used abusive language or
displayed no emotions at all. It was a scary time for everyone who loved
here specially Kim.
Statistics told a grim story. In marriages where one
partner has suffered a head injury, the divorce rate is 80-90%. "I
honestly didn't think our marriage would work," Kim reflects, "but I had
vowed before God until death do us part."
Krickitt was released from Barrow on January. 13, 1994. Living with her
parents in Phoenix, she continued rehabilitation as an outpatient. Her
attention span and patience were short. Kim tried to encourage her, but
Krickitt's reactions were strong-she hated this guy who was irritating
This was a far cry from the initial phone call in 1992 that had brought
the two of them together. One day at work, Krickitt, a sportswear sales
rep, took a call from Kim, who was looking for uniforms for his team.
The coach and the rep hit it off. After four months of mostly business
contact, home phone numbers were exchanged.
Kim had been searching for more in his life, and they began to read the
Bible together. Kim was also impressed by the other singles at
Krickitt's church. "I couldn't get over how the guys treated the ladies
with so much respect," says Kim. "And saving themselves for marriage? In
this day and age?"
The two were falling in love. In June, 1993, Kim proposed to Krickitt,
arriving with flowers, a ring and a cuddly teddy bear. "Yes!" Krickitt
said without hesitation.
On Sept. 18, 1993, they became husband and wife. After the honeymoon,
they returned to New Mexico with dreams of a long, happy life. The fairy
tale was fractured on that November night ten weeks later.
During rehab, Krickitt had flashes of memory, things that were vaguely
familiar. She was certain she was a Christian. But Krickitt missed
something dearly--something she couldn't put into words. "I used to do
these things every day," she thought. "But what were these
things?" The puzzle was finally solved by a girl friend—Krickitt
was missing her daily time of prayer and personal Bible study.
The family was still hopeful that something would spark Krickitt's
lost memory. Nothing did. Even staring at her wedding photos or watching
a video of the ceremony elicited no response.
On April 14, 1994, five months after the accident, the doctors decided
it was time for Krickitt to go home for good. Moving in and loving a
stranger she'd just gotten reacquainted with wasn't easy. The "wife
thing" remained a mystery. "What did I do? Did I cook? Did I bring you
lunch?" she would ask Kim. Still prone to unpredictable mood swings,
Krickitt would laugh, cry, be angry without warning.
Over time, a "new" Krickitt emerged, with a different personality—less
inhibited, quicker to laugh, not hiding her emotions. She was a little
clumsier when tired, but still beautiful. Krickitt began working
and Kim started attending church regularly again. The couple also began
seeing Mike Hill, a therapist. When he asked Kim what made Krickitt fall
in love with him the first time, Kim thought back to those hours on the
phone, the gifts, the things they loved doing together. After a few
sessions, Hill suggested Kim redate his wife. They both liked the idea.
Krickitt began to enjoy Kim's companionship. Her love was growing.
The next suggestion didn't thrill Kim as much as Krickitt: Get married
"I was excited," Krickitt says. "My wedding was something I had always
looked forward to, walking down the aisle in my big white fluffy dress,
the honeymoon. I wanted a real memory of that a day where I could know
for a fact that I gave myself to this man in marriage."
Seeing Krickitt's growing enthusiasm changed Kim's mind. Krickitt's
brother Jamey said, "opening the service on May 25, 1996, we're not here
to perform a wedding. We're here to create a memory for Krickitt."
The Carpenters continue to tell their story via magazine interviews and
talk shows. A book about their life, The Vow (out in 1998), and a
motion picture. But there is a more important message the couple
want people to hear.
"We don't have a story without God. And that story really is about
commitment-commitment to Him and commitment in marriage," Kim says. They
emphasize the power of prayer and the need for faith and commitment,
"things we realized through living through them."
is when we silence the chattering of our mind that we can truly hear
what is in our heart and find the still, clear purity that lies within
the soul. Spiritual love carries us into the silence of our original
state of being. This silence contains the power to create harmony in all
relationships and the sweetness to sustain them.–Unknown