“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Mother Teresa.
We know the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Case in point: Ian and Larissa Murphy. Larissa embodies beauty, sweetness, compassion and grace. These qualities—combined with her generous doses of determination, veracity and resilience—make Larissa an exceptional role model and a true Dreamer. Intrigued by Larissa Murphy’s journey of hope, faith and optimism, we want give our readers the opportunity to glean from the life lessons learned by this delightful young lady, wise beyond her years, in this exclusive interview.
To give you context, Larissa met her husband Ian in 2005 while attending college in Western Pennsylvania. They fell in love and planned to get married one day, but their dream to be husband and wife came to a halt when Ian was involved in a traumatic automobile accident that severely impacted his mind, speech, and body. Despite his injuries, they eventually moved forward and got married. Read on to learn more about Larissa’s story, what she’s learned through Ian’s accident, and what gives her hope and joy in the midst of often difficult times…
We are so excited that you are sharing your experiences with our Darling readers. Let us start by saying thank you for giving your time and energy to this interview. Begin by telling us how Ian’s car accident changed life for Ian, and for you, Larissa?
Everything was instantly different, as soon as we received the phone call. To this day, Ian has never taken one step on his own. He hasn’t been able to get himself out of bed or open the fridge door when he’s hungry. He can’t send a text message or go for a run when it’s warm outside. He can’t sit down at a laptop and write a story, like he used to.
My whole life is different, too. Nearly every decision of my day, when I’m not at work and sometimes while I’m at work, revolves around Ian. Getting his pills ready, preparing his schedule for his co-worker, planning dates. Daily life is just different for us than it probably is for someone who is healthy.
Where did you both find the strength to deal with your most painful experiences?
Looking back, and looking forward, it’s clear to us that our faith in God has been our strength. At the time that it’s happening, you’re just taking each step in faith, even if that faith feels smaller than a mustard seed. I read a quote recently, unfortunately I can’t cite it correctly, but it has summed up much for me: “Before me, as behind, God is, and all is well.”
How did Ian’s accident shape your view of what’s important in life?
Before Ian’s accident, both of us had experienced relatively easy lives. I have a vivid memory of being in my apartment, a few months after we started dating. We were passed out on the living room floor because Ian had just made me run much further than I would have on my own. He said something to the effect of, “My life has been really easy so far. I’ve never even lost a grandparent.”
We had no idea what was coming next. We were planning for the future, thinking about where we would want to work, when we would want to get married, etc. It didn’t seem perfect—there were things that we feared. But they were smaller things—like if we would have enough money or guts to move away for jobs.
After Ian’s accident, it took all the mental energy I had to get through one day. Planning and preparing for the future looked differently than it did before his accident. We had to live one day at a time and ask God to give us the strength and wisdom we needed for each day. It kind of felt more like God had intended when the Bible says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.”
Obviously there was a point in time, after Ian’s accident, when you had to make a choice whether or not to move ahead with your relationship. Although life as you both knew it ended with Ian’s accident, can you tell us how you and Ian progressed from a time of tragedy to begin a future together?
God always gave me signs that Ian knew me and loved me. An increased heart rate on the monitor, a gaze, a blink. Those were all ways that he had to communicate as he progressed from his coma. They were always there.
Also always there was the knowledge that if the role were reversed, Ian wouldn’t have left me. He was the most faithful person I had known—not just a boyfriend, but a friend to me.
It took Ian two and a half years to use his voice again after the accident. That’s what we had been waiting for. I didn’t want to marry Ian if he couldn’t talk to me. If we could communicate, we could be married. Once he started talking, he was able to communicate to his dad that he still wanted marriage. His dad passed away two months before Ian proposed, but he was a huge advocate for us and encouraged us to make a decision—either to walk away or get married. He didn’t want to see us dating forever.
What would Ian say that he loves or appreciates the most about you?
From Ian: “She always wants to hear about my day even though it’s really boring most of the time.”
Tell us how being married to Ian has taught you about who you are.
Being married to Ian has shown me what a loser I am!!! He teaches me patience
and gentleness, two things that I don’t excel in. It’s also shown me how intricately God was molding me before meeting Ian and making me into someone who could “handle” a life like this. Ian trusts me to make decisions—I don’t always have to ask his opinion. I do on the big things that have long-term implications. But he gives me so much confidence by just trusting my integrity and my discernment.
Many people vow, in sickness and in health, but they really have no idea what lays ahead for them. What can you share with those readers now, that will stand to inspire them during a dark or unknown time that may arise in future days?
Don’t forget your spouse’s soul. Remember them as they were and simply love them. As Ian has said to me many times, he’s more than a brain.
What has being married to Ian taught you about contentment?
I read once how much comparing does to fracture ourcontentment. Either way. If we look at lives “harder” than ours, we may be tempted to pride. If we look at lives “better” than ours,
we may grow anxious or dissatisfied. I have to constantly fight to not compare. It doesn’t do me any good. God will meet that desire. He’s helped me a ton.
We started this interview by complimenting you on your physical beauty, and on your “gutsy” personality. But where does your inner strength come from?
Well, I am who I am because of three beings—God, my mom and my dad. My life
is very parallel to my mom’s and she has led an unwavering life. Whatever is required of her, she does. Working full-time. Raising kids. Understanding sickness. And she does it all well.My parents have incredible work ethic—I didn’t grow up expecting to lead a lazy life. That’s paying off immensely.
What do you hope to inspire in others, by sharing your story with us?
A dear friend of ours lost his wife a few short months before our wedding. He had been her caregiver for many years as she battled cancer. Before our wedding, he spoke seven words that I’ll carry with me forever—“You’ll never regret loving this much.” It’s as simple as that. Love gives life.
Image provided by Larissa Murphy