How we met
On January 13, 2011, I was and had been a police officer for Blytheville, AR. I had been an officer since the age of 21. That day, I received a call of an armed robbery in progress at a local hair salon. I was advised that the offenders held the owner at gun point, struck him over the head several times, took $3000, and were leaving the scene heading north out of Blytheville and into Missouri.
While en route and running Code 3 (lights and sirens) another officer, a state trooper who was in the area, came over the radio and advised us that he had just seen a vehicle matching the description traveling north. He was going to turn around on them and give pursuit, so I increased my speed to catch them, not wanting to leave the officer alone to take on three armed suspects.
While approaching the trooper, a car pulled into the path of my patrol unit, causing me to take evasive maneuvers; I swerved and hit black ice. I slid approximately 80ft on the black ice, going off the embankment of a 30ft drainage ditch at well over 100mph. Upon striking the embankment, I was violently thrown about the car. I busted out of the drivers’ side window headfirst, bounced back, and hit the bulletproof cage in my cruiser. The only thing that saved my life was my seatbelt. I was immediately thrown into a coma. Luckily, I had several other officers behind me who were also involved in the pursuit. They were able to immediately call out medical for me, and also called out a medical helicopter service.
During the stabilization process, and while being transported to the med in Memphis, TN (50 miles south), I was told that I was intubated and that it was very touch and go, and my survival rate was looking grimmer and grimmer with each passing moment. Once at the hospital, I was told that I coded three times. Once stable, I spent over a month comatose, and when I did finally wake up, I had been flown to ATL, to “The Sheperds Center” (one of the top brain rehab facilities in the country). You see I had sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) along with several broken bones, broken spine, damage to most of the nerves on the left side of my body. When I awoke, I was literally like a newborn child. I could not walk, talk, eat, even breathing on my own was impossible, and I had to be assisted by a ventilator. I had to relearn my entire existence at 25 years old type A man. A task I DID NOT want to undertake, but I persevered and learned to walk, talk, eat, and yes, even breathe on my own again. I stayed in one hospital or another all of 2011, and was forced (because of my brain injury, and by workman’s comp) to retire from police work at the age of 25.
This leads me to meet Heather. We met online, and after talking to her for a bit, I persuaded her to meet with me at a restaurant. I was coming from physical therapy wearing shorts and a cut-off shirt. I’m sure she was thinking, “Why did I meet this guy?” Anyway, I was still going through different therapies, including speech therapy, so I had a very severe speech impediment. Luckily, she accepted me for me, and listened to my story, and we were able to hit it off. I found out that she had moved to Arkansas to pursue a job as a visual presentation manager for Ashley Furniture in Jonesboro, AR. She was not originally from AR, on the contrary, she was from southern Mississippi, a little town called Wiggins, MS. So she was totally different from other girls I had dated in the past. She had a sense of maturity in her that I ultimately fell in love with.
I knew six months into dating her that she was the one that I would spend the rest of my life with. About six and a half months into our relationship, and as fate would have it, Heather and I were involved in ANOTHER head on collision with a girl who was in all likelihood texting and driving. I was hauling a 10k ski boat behind my truck that launched from the trailer and skidded down the road approximately 300ft. My truck flipped on its side, the trailer jackknifed and we ended up upside-down in a ditch. The truck was smoking, and all I could think was, “Is Heather ok, and god forbid, is she going to have to endure the same things that I had to go through?” I learned later on that she was thinking around the same things about me.
Turns out we were not hurt badly enough to be incapacitated, so we climbed out of the back driver side window, and into the arms of some passersby who had stopped to help. We were transported to the hospital by ambulance. Once again, I suffered a head laceration and a possible secondary brain injury, and while all this was going on. All I could think was, “Is the love of my life going to be ok? Was she hurt badly?” Both of our parents came to my house immediately to see if we were ok. That is how our parents met, which is a pretty traumatic meeting if you ask me. I knew then that there was no way I was letting this girl get away.
how they asked
Fast-forward a couple months, and on one of the trips down to see her parents, I sat down with her dad and talked to him about marring Heather. You see, she is an only child, and an only grandchild, so this made her parents and grandparents understandably protective. I made it clear to him that I did not want to propose tomorrow, but that I knew she was the one. I assured him that I would let no harm come to Heather, and I had the best of intentions with her. After speaking with him and letting him know that it was in the works, I had to go purchase a ring. So I discretely had a mutual friend of ours ask her about “types” of rings: cuts, what color gold, etc. So I purchased the ring, after we got that all worked out, and I bought the ring. I wanted to show it to her dad and mom, so on another trip down to Wiggins, I was able to hide the ring in a compartment in my truck and sneak it down there without her knowing to show her mom and dad.
Heather is a HUGE animal lover, and would take in anything that breathed, so I knew that giving her an animal would assure me a good outcome. I got a small teacup yorkie to give to her. I knew she would love the puppy and the ring, so the plan was set. I knew I had to propose at her job, because if she were to see me all “dressed up” she would have known something was up. I waited until they were having “inventory” so that way I knew Heather would be super busy. This is where the video picks up.
While our situation is unique, I hope to inspire more guys to try being more romantic. This was not my cup of tea either, but I wanted Heather to know how important she is/will always be to me! Special thanks Taylor Nelson, of “paradise productions” for shooting the video and making our “special day” a great success.