Carli Hamilton had just about given up on the possibility of finding true love. After all, she wasn’t like most other women. She was born with a condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which left her bound to a wheelchair. She wasn’t entirely sure what kind of life she would have as she got older. But eventually, she learned that accepting her condition and loving herself were two very important things. It was too bad that she didn’t feel the same way when it came to finding love with someone else. She simply wasn’t convinced that there was a nice guy out there who would be kind enough to look after her. Then she met Jared Hamilton, who helped cast all of her doubts aside.
> “I was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. My parents were told that I > wouldn’t live to see my fifth birthday. The doctors were constantly > putting an expiration date on my life. I grew up not knowing how much > longer I had or what quality of life I would have. Although my future > was unknown, I wanted to make sure I lived my life to the absolute > fullest. I was always known as ‘the girl in a wheelchair’ and when I > was younger I hated it. As I got older, it set me apart from the rest > of the crowd. I learned how to love myself and love my wheelchair. I > learned to love the attention it gave me, although I still got the > negative attention of being in a wheelchair. I would date, and guys > would tell me they couldn’t see a future with me because, the fact of > the matter is, my disability is life threatening. I don’t know if I > can have children, how long I will live, or what my quality of life > will be in 5+ years. And although I had learned how to deal with the > unknown, guys didn’t know how to deal with that."
> "I had given up on dating. I had accepted the fact that this ‘girl in > a wheelchair’ would forever be single. I graduated college my best > friend and I moved to California. We had only been there a few weeks > and we attended a new church, and right after church ended, this guy > came up to me and immediately started talking to me. He asked me > questions like, ‘Are you new? Where are you from?,’ and other normal > things. I kept waiting for the infamous, ‘So why are you in a > wheelchair?,’ but it never came. I can honestly tell you that he was > the first guy to ever come up to me, hit on me, and NOT ask why I was > in a wheelchair. You see, another statement I have heard far too many > times in my life is, ‘You’re too pretty to be in a wheelchair.’ As if > being in a wheelchair had a certain look or something. But like I > said, this guy never asked or said anything about me being in a > wheelchair. In fact, he didn’t even seem to notice."
> "I wish I could say that after that moment it was love at first sight, > but it didn’t quit start that way, at least not for both of us. This > guy gave me his name and number and we went our separate ways. I > couldn’t remember what his name was, so my friend and I nicknamed him > Pineapple because of his long hair plopped right on top of his head."
> "We texted back and forth a little bit and I could tell he really > liked me, but I had given up on dating so I was NOT interested. I > would take days, maybe even a week, to even reply to his text > messages. He would ask me on dates and I would always find a way to > get out of it. You could say I was self-sabotaging. I think that I was > so afraid of another guy telling me that they couldn’t see a future > with me because of my chair, that I was not even going to put myself > in that position anymore. It wasn’t until 3 months after we met that I > finally let him take me on a date. But even after that, I was not > convinced he wouldn’t go running the second he realized that a life > with me would mean putting my pants on every day, or helping me > shower."
> "We stayed friends for almost a year, but we had a weird relationship. > I knew he was madly in love with me, but he never made any moves, so > was I really sure he was madly in love with me? After about a year of > living in California, the best friend I had moved with had gotten > married and moved back to Utah. I wanted to stay in California but > couldn’t afford to live on my own and since I had moved with my best > friend, I hadn’t really made any other friends. One night, Jared had > taken me out to dinner at Filippi’s in downtown San Diego. I brought > up the idea that I was possibly moving back to Utah soon, and I could > literally see his heartbreak. He told me I couldn’t move back to Utah, > and that I could live with his family or his grandpa for a while so I > wouldn’t have to pay rent and still live in California. I decided this > would be a good time to actually see if he had feelings for me, so I > casually said, ‘Have you ever thought about dating me?’"
> "I could tell this question caught him off guard because up until this > moment, I had never made an indication that I was even interested. In > fact, I wouldn’t even hug him for too long because I didn’t want him > to get the wrong idea. He played it cool and said, ‘Of course I have.’ > We had a 3-hour conversation about us ‘dating’ and he told me, ‘If you > move back to Utah and don’t date me, you’ll regret it.’ After that > conversation I sort of freaked out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to date > him because I didn’t want my heart broken again. But there was > something so different about Jared. He was so genuine. He never once > made me feel insecure about my disability and never once asked me what > my disability meant for my future."
> "The following weeks were so important in our relationship. I finally > decided, ‘Okay maybe I do like Pineapple.’ He took me to this cute > sushi place in La Jolla that overlooked the ocean. It had a > breathtaking view and I know he picked that place because he knew I > would love it. Jared was so used to me leaving right after dinner, but > I asked him if he wanted to take a walk. All of the sudden, (don’t ask > me what came over me), I grabbed his hand and started holding it. It > felt so natural and so right and neither of us said anything, he just > continued to walk (well he walked, I rolled) around just talking. We > ended up getting dessert… twice… and I still wasn’t ready to leave him > and go home. This was the moment I realized I had fallen in love with > the guy I swore I would never date. > > > In January, Jared got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It > was everything I could ask for. I have never known love until I met > Jared."
> "Our wedding day was the single most important day of my life. I > couldn’t be more excited to become Jared’s wife. He looked at me with > so much adoration and love when I came rolling down the aisle, and I > knew in that moment we would be able to make it through anything and > everything."
> "Jared and I are coming up on our one-year anniversary and over the > past ten months, Jared has put me in bed every night, helped me > shower, blow dried my hair, dressed me, carried me and catered to my > every need. He has shown me true, unconditional love. We’ve had > conversations about how our life will play out, will we have kids, can > we have kids, how long will I be here on this earth, etc. All Jared > replies is, ‘I don’t care if we have kids. I want kids, but I want you > more.’ He is the person I KNOW I was designed for, and he was designed > for me. He loves me for who I really am. He loves me at my best and at > my worst. He takes every challenge I have and looks at it as a way to > serve and love me. I don’t know what I did to deserve him and his > love, but I will try every single day to be worthy of his love and > give all that love right back to him.”