Valentine's Day, to many people, means a celebration of romance. But there is much more to love than romance, and one Middle Tennessee woman's extraordinary commitment to love her partner for better or for worse is simply inspiring.
Dawn Garcia and Brandon Brashears started out like a lot of couples. They met at a club, started talking and couldn't stop talking.
It was an instant connection.
"We just have been inseparable ever since," Garcia said.
For a year, they dated and talked about marriage and kids, but then came Thanksgiving 2009 when everything changed.
"It was the most horrific accident. That phone call changed our lives completely," said Brashears' mother, Rose Zittroyer.
Brashears had been in an awful car crash. He wasn't wearing a seat belt, and his head banged around the car at tremendous speed.
He had suffered a catastrophic brain injury, and doctors said he would never walk or talk again.
"The hardest part is being a mom and not being able to fix your child. When they're young and get hurt, you can just put a Band-Aid on it. This, I couldn't fix, and I was torn," Zittroyer said.
Zittroyer knew she and her husband would take care of their son no matter what it took. But, while at the rehab hospital, doctors and nurses warned her odds were that Garcia would leave him.
"They told me the divorce rate when something like this happens is like 97 percent, and they weren't even married," Zittroyer said.
That was four years ago, and Garcia didn't leave.
"People don't understand, I don't think, the true meaning of love, because when things get bad, people run," Garcia said. "I just kind of felt drawn to him even closer. I believe he is going to be OK. God has really brought me through this journey. Faith over fear for the most part. I love him."
Brashears can't talk, can't walk and can't feed himself. But the family says he is still here.
Garcia says on a good day, Brashears will blink once for "yes," twice for "no" and three times for "I love you."
Still, no one would have faulted her for walking. No one, not even his mom.
"If she leaves, I can't be upset with her. I'm grateful she's here, and I love her as a daughter. We were already close before his accident, so now we are even closer," Zittroyer said.
Garcia and her two daughters have since moved in with Brashears and his parents. They are now part of his family.
Now, make no mistake. This is not roses and chocolate. This is grueling, hard work and a tough life.
But also understand that Garcia sees Brashears different than you might.
"He's just in there. I don't know any other way to explain it," she said.
There are many well-known quotes on love, including 1 Corinthians 13:8, which says "love never fails."
Garcia has that kind of love, and it is an amazing, humbling and deeply touching love to see.
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Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:39 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:39:10 GMT
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