A love story you won’t find in a fairy tale book

Larissa and IanRecently I said goodbye to my fabulous Marketing & Corporate Relations intern, Kelly Zatlin. During her 3 1/2 months at Easter Seals, Kelly grew to love Easter Seals’ mission and became her own kind of advocate for people with disabilities. She’s an awesome writer and we love her thoughtful blog posts.

Like so many of our other interns, Kelly came in a little unsure. She is leaving us a pro, though, and I’m so proud of her. Good luck with your future endeavors, Kelly, and keep writing!

Love that endures
by Kelly Zatlin

A few weeks ago I was looking through Ellen Seidman’s Love that Max blog and came across a post called 5 Love Stories to Celebrate. One of the love stories in particular caught my eye, so I read their story and watched their wedding video. Within minutes, my eyes were glossy and I was sniffling at my desk. Luckily, everyone in my cubicle area was at a conference so there were no witnesses.

Ian and Larissa met in college and knew right away that they were meant for each other. They talked about marriage early on and planned to marry once they were finished with college. After ten months of dating, Ian got in a terrible car accident that caused significant brain damage and left him in a wheel chair. At first he couldn’t communicate and needed assistance to do everything from eating to dressing.

Larissa moved in with Ian’s parents to help out. For four years she stuck by his side, knowing their relationship would never be the same, but also knowing their love for each other would never change either. To Larissa, the only thing the accident changed was Ian’s outward physicality; it didn’t change who he was and it did not alter an ounce of the love she had for him.

For four years Larissa told herself that if Ian reached a point where he could communicate with her in basic ways, she would marry him and continue on the life they had planned before the accident occurred. She knew full well how difficult it would be to watch her friends marry men who could dance with them at their weddings and drive them to church on Sundays, but her commitment to Ian did not let those things get in the way.

Larissa was very honest in a blog post she wrote about their relationship, sharing the real challenges she knew she’d face:

Marrying Ian meant that I was signing on to things that I don’t think I ever would’ve chosen for myself — working my whole life, having a husband who can’t be left alone, managing his caregivers, remembering to get the oil changed, advocating for medical care, balancing checkbooks, and on. The practical costs felt huge, and those didn’t even touch on the emotional and spiritual battles that I would face.

Ian and Larissa were married on a warm august evening underneath her parent’s trees in the mountains, surrounded by their family and friends. “The decision to get married was one of the hardest but simplest decisions we’ll face,” said Larissa. “I’ve heard that choosing marriage for anyone can raise doubts and fears. I think a disability takes those normal fears, and multiplies them.”

Their beautiful and emotional ceremony was filled with tears, both happy and sad. “Even though we chose marriage, we chose it sadly,” said Larissa. “Sorrow has been a permanent resident in our 20s.” Larissa shares with her readers that even though sorrow has been such a big part of their life, they find hope and faith and believe wholeheartedly that they do not walk this road alone.

This story hit a soft, almost liquid spot in me because I recently got engaged. I like to think that the love my fiancé and I share is just as strong as theirs, and faced with this same situation, we would have the strength and enduring love that Larissa and Ian display.

I’m sure it’s much easier said than done and I can’t imagine being in her shoes, but I think she is such a great example of what commitment and love really mean in a day and age where people often throw out what’s broken, rather than try to fix it.


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  1. Maurice Snell Says:

    I wish you luck, dear Kelly on your future endeavors. Thanks for everything that you do for Easter Seals! 🙂