I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

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I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

IMAGINE waking up with the last fifteen years of memories gone.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Angela Sartin-Hartung, 59, shares her incredible story.

I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

Global Tech News Daily

Angela, 59, with her husband, Jeff, before the accident Credit: Angela Sartin-Hartung

Angela thought he was a doctor.

Global Tech News Daily

Struggling with terrible pain that she didn’t understand, in a hospital room she didn’t recognise, she could only think this kind-faced man by her bed was on her medical team.

“In the days that followed I tried desperately to make sense of what was happening to me,” she remembers.

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“I told myself ‘I’m 36 years old. I’m married to John and mum to a two and an eight-year-old.”

The truth was going to shake her entire world.

The stranger by her side wasn’t a doctor, but her second husband, Jeff.

Angela wasn’t 36 but 51, and her children were 17 and 23. 

“I didn’t know it then,” she says.

“But the last fifteen years had been wiped from my memory forever.”

On October 25, 2013, in New York, Angela was crossing the road alone when she was hit by a car.

In hospital she was put in a month-long medically induced coma, her family rushing to be by her side.

“We were frantic,” remembers Jeff, 55.

“The doctors didn’t know if Angela would survive, and if she did, the extent of her brain injury.”

His relief when she woke was immense.

But the doctors explained that she had suffered from a traumatic brain injury and gave Jeff a grim picture of what lay ahead. 

“They told me that, in most brain injury cases, the marriage ends.

Nothing was making sense.”

Angela Sartin-Hartung59

''That it’s just too much for a relationship to stand.

''I refused to accept that.

''Whatever was coming next, I would be there for Angela, just as I always had.”

Jeff was right to steel himself.

Because Angela was confused and anxious, rapidly shifting from emotional highs to lows. 

“Through it all I kept asking for my husband John,” Angela explains.

“The man I’d fallen in love with at university and married in 1985.

''When I heard that he’d died fifteen years earlier in 1998, the grief just hit me.

''Nothing was making sense.”

The thunderbolts kept coming.

Angela was heartbroken to hear that her beloved dad had also died.

Despite arranging his funeral in 2010, Angela had no memory of it at all.

“Then there were my children,” she explains.

“My toddler daughter Abigail was suddenly seventeen and my son Phillip now twenty-three, a man.

''It was impossible to understand.”

Finally, there was the man with the kind eyes.

The man she was told was her loving husband of twelve years.

“My head told me that this was a stranger.

''But my heart told me that I could trust Jeff.”

Angela listened as he told her about the two other children they’d raised together, Evan, then 21, and Maggie, then 24.

How the children had lived with them and Angela since their marriage in 2001.

“I had no idea who they were.” remembers Angela.

I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

Angela in hospital after the accident Credit: Angela Sartin-Hartung

“I didn’t have a single memory of them to call on.”

When it came time to leave hospital, two months after waking from the coma, Angela was nervous.

But she focused on her heart and not her head. 

“I was going home to live with a man I didn’t know.

''I had to put my faith in my instinct that this was a safe thing to do.”

Angela struggled with her emotions as they arrived at their house in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the home she and John had lived in for years.  

“Imagine walking into the home you left this morning, to see everything changed,” she says.

“You can see that chair you know, and the table you recognise, but they’re suddenly all in the wrong place.

''The walls are painted different colours, there are photos you don’t recognise with people you don’t know.

''My head was in a spin.”

From the very first night the couple slept in the same bed.

“It just felt like the right thing to do.

''But when I woke up the next morning, I still looked over expecting to see John there.

''When I remembered that no, he had died, the grief hit all over again.”

Jeff was her rock through it all, understanding that John would be a presence in their lives forever. 

“They had been together for twenty years,” he explains, “And were deeply, passionately in love.

''In many ways it had been the perfect marriage.

''Loving Angela meant accepting that.”

“So, when she’d speak about John, or bring out his old t-shirt or wallet to hold or smell, I understood.

''She hadn’t had years to grieve his loss.

''In Angela’s mind her husband had only just died.”

There were harder moments to come. 

“When I took off my wedding ring for a few months, unable to wear it when in my heart I was married to another man,” says Angela quietly, “Jeff understood my struggle.”

With endless patience and understanding, Jeff told Angela their own love story.

And as the months turned into years, I fell in love.”

Angela Sartin-Hartung59

“He told me how we met in church in 2000, three years after John’s death.

''Both of us single parents to two young children.”

“He described our first date at a comedy club, and the dinner we had.”

Jeff described his proposal, in an atrium filled with trees and flowers. And their perfect wedding in 2001, with their four children by their side. 

“Do I remember any of it?” asks Angela.

“No. But do I have it all deep in my heart? Absolutely.”

As she looked at photos of herself in places she didn’t know, with people who were strangers, Angela understood that Jeff wasn’t just trying to fill in the fifteen years of lost memories.

He was showing his wife how much he loved her. 

“I’d look at Jeff patiently telling me the same stories over and over, or smiling at photos of our family on a day trip I didn’t remember, and think ‘who does this for his wife?’ 

“Many men would just walk away or bury themselves in work or hobbies as a way to avoid the responsibility.

''Jeff never did that.

''And as the months turned into years, I fell in love.”

Re-living so many happy times, and spending all their days together, was an unexpected joy for Jeff. 

“How often do we wish that we could do something over?” he asks.

“Suddenly I was given that chance.

''To woo Angela again, to show her just how much I loved her.

''It wasn’t a burden to do that, it was a privilege.”

Life in the three years after Angela’s accident had its struggles.

As well as the many medical appointments she needed to attend, the psychological side took it’s toll. 

“As a mother it was so hard not to have memories of Abigail and Phillip growing up, or Evan and Maggie at all.

''I had to just accept that I’d never remember that first day of school, or those happy family holidays.” 

“I focused instead on getting to know each of them as adults.

''I felt blessed to have these wonderful people in my life.”

Still, their November wedding anniversary didn’t have any emotional tug for Angela.

So, they decided to say ‘I do’ again.

On June 16, 2018, the couple stood in Central Park, New York and recommitted to one another. 

“Saying my vows to this man who made me feel safe and cherished, who had never wavered, was the easiest thing in the world” says Angela.

The couple now agree that Angela losing her memories gave them the chance to find something greater.

“Through it all I was given the opportunity to step up and grow,” says Jeff.

“Without a doubt it’s made me a better man.

''The years since Angela’s accident have been precious.

''They mean that we have bond that will never break.”

And now, when they look over their wedding photos, they have joyful memories that they can both share. 

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I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

Angela and Jeff on holiday, 2020 Credit: Angela Sartin-Hartung

I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

The couple's first wedding day Credit: Angela Sartin-Hartung

I FORGOT my husband of 15 years after getting hit by a car – I thought I was married to someone else, but he stuck by me

After the crash, the two decided to renew their wedding vows Credit: Angela Sartin-Hartung

I married my husband after dating him for two WEEKS, people say I’m crazy

 

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