Over the next three months, Kim’s interest in sportswear increased remarkably, but only if a certain 23-year-old sales associate was available to answer his calls. A gymnast, Krickitt knew a lot about sports, and she seemed genuinely interested in Kim’s team.
Pretty soon their conversations turned deeper. Both were dedicated Christians who believed marriage vows were a sacred promise. It seemed that, at every turn, each was finding something more to love in the other.
In April 1993 Krickitt accepted Kim’s invitation to visit New Mexico and see his team play. Two weeks later Kim met Krickitt’s friends and parents.
Kim asked Krickitt’s father for his daughter’s hand that June, a formality she insisted upon. “You have our blessing,” Gus Pappas said.
Kim then flew to California and went to Krickitt’s apartment. Dressed in a suit and tie despite the sweltering heat, he called her name until she came out on her balcony.
“Well, will ya?” Kim yelled.
“Will I what?” Krickitt responded, then raced down to him. Kim knelt on one knee and held out a bouquet of flowers. “Will you be my lifetime buddy?” Kim asked.
“Yes!” she said. “Yes, I will.”
On September 18, 1993, Krisxan Pappas and Kim Carpenter were married in Scottsdale, Ariz. The couple honeymooned in Maui, and on their return squeezed into Kim’s small apartment in Las Vegas.
Only ten weeks later, Kim listened in shock as a doctor told him that Krickitt was in a coma, completely unresponsive. There was possible brain damage. She might die.
Around 5 a.m. Kim, despite his own severe injuries, had arrived in Albuquerque to see Krickitt. She had a plastic hose in her mouth and a device stuck in her head to measure intracranial pressure. Plastic bags hung on metal stands, all draining fluids down clear tubing into her arms. This can’t be Krickitt! Kim thought as he felt the room sway and go dark.
Krickitt’s athletic body started fighting back. Though still comatose, she was able to breathe on her own by the first week in December. She was transported by air ambulance to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, deemed the best place for her recovery.
Krickitt gradually came out of her coma, and three weeks after the accident it was time for a professional assessment of her mental abilities. Kim stood by anxiously as a therapist asked Krickitt questions.
“Where does the sun rise?” the therapist said.
Answer, babe, Kim urged silently. Show us you’re getting well. Krickitt looked puzzled, then satisfied. “North,” she said with certainty.
“Who is the President?”
“Where do you live?”
Phoenix was where she had lived before she was married. Kim was encouraged. Yes, babe! We’re going home soon, and everything will be all right.
“Who are you married to?” Krickitt’s blue eyes drifted around the room. Her voice was flat, emotionless, and her words stabbed at Kim’s heart: “I’m not married.”
Stunned, Kim backed out of the room. In the hallway he wept openly, slamming his fist against a wall. God, help me! Help Krickitt and me.
As Krickitt became more responsive, it gradually became clear that she had lost all memory of the year before the accident. She didn’t remember their courtship, wedding or honeymoon, or their short time together as husband and wife. Kim Carpenter was a complete stranger to the woman he had fallen madly, hopelessly in love with.
For the next month her parents and friends would ask, “Who are you married to, Krickitt?”
She would seem to concentrate, but then say any of a half-dozen men’s names–her gymnastics coach, old friends, a doctor.
Once Kim showed her a video of their wedding. When the camera panned on Kim’s face, he said gently, “That’s me, Kimmer. And the girl is you, Krickitt.” But Krickitt showed no reaction.
Every day Krickitt worked with a physical therapist, speech therapists and others at Barrow. Once an accomplished gymnast, she had to be taught to walk. At first she would jerk her right foot forward and drag the left foot, unable to lift it even an inch off the floor. Her brain had sustained injuries in the frontal lobe, which controls personality, emotions and decision-making, and in her parietal lobe, which governs language and mathematical comprehension.