Nine years after suffering irreversible brain damage in a tragic car accident, Ian Murphy is not physically the same man that his college sweetheart, Larissa, fell in love with.
Despite the odds, the devoutly Christian couple chose true love over comfort, with them recently celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. They will share their powerful testimony of love, heartbreak and the power of faith on Oprah Winfrey's new "Belief" series. But before the airing of the show, the couple shared their story with The Christian Post.
Ian and Larissa were just like any other ordinary college students upon meeting in the spring of 2005 — young, full of life and intent on achieving their "happily ever after." But less than a year into dating, tragedy struck and a near-fatal car accident would leave Ian paralyzed and suffering from a traumatic brain injury.
Prior to the devastating accident, the Pennsylvania couple had made plans to get married immediately after college, and Ian had even been searching for the perfect ring, but fate would temporarily halt their wedding dreams. In a recent interview with CP, Larissa shared how watching Ian spend months in a coma and struggle with brain damage initially had her questioning God and why He allows pain and suffering in the world.
"I was a very new believer … I had to learn quickly, I felt like I was kind of fast-tracked into having to grapple through 'what is God's purpose of suffering?'" she told CP.
Larissa admitted that in the beginning, there were times when she doubted her relationship with Ian, who at that time was no longer the active and independent young man she met in college. He is now paralyzed and to walk and talk without assistance.
"I don't remember having long seasons of doubt, but even now I have constant guilt because I always feel like I should be doing something more for Ian," she shared. "I struggle with, 'OK, God put us here and we aren't capable, but He is in us and He strengthens us.' That's still something I constantly have to work through."
Ian finally woke up after months of being in a comatose state, although it took him two and a half years to regain his speech. He and Larissa vowed to continue loving one another and they eventually fulfilled their prior commitment to wed four years after the accident. They detailed their ordeal in a 2014 book, Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn't Give Up.