This is a warning. This love story is so hard, but it’s so beautiful and worth telling. Sometime last September, I sent a quick text to Emily to confirm her engagement session. The text I received back rocked my world. I mean, it completely took my breathe away. Emily didn’t remember that we had a session. She didn’t even remember me. They had been in a terrible auto accident and were several weeks into a very long hospital stay. We weren’t sure how things the next few months would unfold. And so, I waited and prayed for these two, and I believe that there were a lot of folks doing the same thing.
Just a few months later, I got the call that they were ready to shoot just a few photos for their save the date. Just seeing them pull up in the car last and walking together made my heart ache for joy.
Emily & Justin’s Story (as told by Emily):
On NYE 2011, Justin and I met shortly after the ball had dropped. We were at The Old Sheleighly bar in Detroit. I was grabbing drinks for a friend and I then made my way back over to her. As I was walking, I noticed that my friend was talking to two guys. When I approached, I asked (Justin) “what band is that?” as I pointed to his t-shirt. He responded with: “it is a skateboard company”. After that, we had a great conversation and hung out the rest of the evening at the bar.
The next day, we figured out that our moms knew each other from working together. They had previously tried to get Justin and I together but, it did not end up happening. I like to think that we ended up meeting by fate.
During that time, both Justin and I attended Wayne State University. Justin lived right off of campus, downtown, Detroit and I lived in Wyandotte with my mom. In March, after dating and hanging out since NYE, we decided to make our relationship official. Since March 7, 2012, we have been together.
From then until now, life has been very busy for the both of us. I worked at a law firm in Detroit from 2013-2016 while Justin worked at Henry Ford Health System. In August of 2016, I began an accelerated 13.5-month nursing program at the University of Detroit Mercy. We lived together in an apartment in midtown Detroit from the fall of 2014 to the end of 2017.
In August 2017 we took a trip to Traverse City to spend a few days away while I was on a break before my last semester of nursing school. On the second day of the trip, August 15th, we were in a horrific car accident. We were both taken to Munson Medical Center via ambulance. There, I was intubated and put on life support because I stopped breathing on my own. Justin was also intubated and taken to emergency surgery.
To say the least, Justin and I were both injured very badly. Justin’s injuries are physical while mine injuries are not. Justin fractured/crushed his pelvis and left hip severely; his intestines went into his chest due to a hole in his diaphragm causing a pneumothorax (hence why he had emergency surgery). I sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, diffuse axonal injury, and four fractured ribs on my left side.
I remained on life support for three days while Justin was taken back to the operating room to repair his pelvis and hip. A week later, Justin was transferred to Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital. A day after Justin was transferred, I was transferred to The Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.
I opened my eyes, I recognized that I was in a hospital room, but I did not know where I was. No one was around. A little while later, a nurse came into the room. I asked her where I was. I asked her what day it was. She told me that it was September 3rd. I was shocked because I thought it was August. I asked where Justin and my mom were. The kind nurse said that she believed Justin was in another hospital and my mom was coming later that day. At the time, I was just trying to process things. Finding out that I was in a car accident and sustained serious injuries was very scary. The weirdest thing to me is that apparently, I interacted with people prior to September 3rd, but I still have no recollection of it.
Justin was released from the hospital a week before I was. He visited me while I was still in the hospital as much as he could. I was discharged on September 12th and was taken home to stay with my mom. I required 24/7 attendant care. I had caregivers up until sometime in October. My mom is a nurse, so she was my caregiver when she was able to be home with me. Justin and I attended physical therapy. I also had to have speech and occupational therapy. I also saw a neuropsychiatrist. Justin and I slowly got better. To this day, Justin has to work out at a gym about three days a week to strengthen his leg. I have been discharged from my therapies. I also had to go through Driver Rehabilitation and am now driving (I couldn’t drive for over 6 months).
Justin and I are both doing good. Justin returned to work fulltime in November 2017 and I returned to nursing school in January 2018. I graduated on February 28th! Justin and I have remained in separate households since the accident but, are currently working on buying a home. The last year of our lives has been busy, hard, overwhelming, and humbling.
Justin and I have faced many battles and obstacles that which people our age do not usually have to. This part of our lives has strengthened both of us and our relationship.I cannot lie to people, it has been very tough at times, but together, we have made it through. We both cannot wait to be married in July! We are both looking forward to that so much. Together, we feel that we can take on anything. I could not ask for a better partner in life. We are both very blessed, and grateful to be here today.
Finally, spring came, and they were ready. Imagine the thrill I had shooting them laughing and DANCING in their favorite spots in midtown. It was magic, and if just an hour or so in Detroit could bring the tears, I can only imagine what their July wedding at Waldenwoods will be like. You can bet there will be tears…..and a whole lot of gratitude.
Congratulations! I am honored to call you friends and beyond grateful to tell your story.