Ian and Larissa Murphy met in college in 2005. Ten months later, dreaming of the future they would share together when they married after graduation, Ian suffered serious brain trauma in a car accident. In the days and months that followed, Larissa helped Ian’s family care for him.
Several years later, when Ian—still dependent on others for daily physical care—proposed, Larissa said yes. Surrounded by family and friends, they were married on August 28, 2011.
The winsome video of Ian and Larissa’s relationship and marriage quickly went viral, and the newest version—with a 2014 update announcing the publication of their new book, Eight Twenty Eight—has garnered millions more views. By virtue of this video, complete strangers (like me) are privy to peek in and catch glimpses of a marriage that three years ago seemed both optimistic and precarious.
As we marvel at Larissa’s Christ-like care for Ian from the safety of our laptops or smart phones, we—married and single alike—have wondered, “Could I do that? Could I sacrifice my own dreams and desires to love like that? To love the way Christ loved the church?” Where, we may muse, has this young woman gathered the strength to commit herself in such a profound way? We’re captivated by the commitment of the lovely Larissa.
But marriage, of course, is a partnership. It’s about two people, so I also wanted to know what post-accident life and marriage have been like for Ian.
Ian’s posture, sounds, and movements reveal something of what he faces each day. Ian shares about his brain injury, “It affects my whole life. It’s slower and my body responds to my brain more slowly.” Of his physical challenges he adds, “My body is slower to respond, which means standing is harder, learning to walk is harder. My right arm is not responsive, and my right leg does not bend.”
Those intellectual and physical limitations are what folks at the grocery store or mall tend to notice when they see Ian and Larissa together. “People talk slowly and with annunciation and louder,” says Ian. “It’s annoying. Sometimes people stare at me.”
Ian also reveals what it is that strangers can’t see at first glance. “I am a normal individual,” he says, “I have hopes and fears, just like anybody else. One of my greatest hopes is to be a dad because my dad was awesome and showed me how to be a great dad.”
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Margot Starbuck, award-winning writer and speaker, is a graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Theological Seminary. A TCW regular contributor and columnist, Margot speaks regularly on discipleship, justice, and living love in the world God loves. Connect with Margot on Facebook, Twitter, or at MargotStarbuck.com.