It’s like something straight out of a movie—but with the added tenderness of real life. Jeff Hartung married the woman of his dreams, Angela Sartin-Hartung, back in 2000 after the pair met and fell in love at a Bible class at their local church in Tulsa, OK. The couple raised their children together (both had children from previous marriages) and had moved to New York City when, on Oct. 25, 2013, tragedy struck.
Angela was hit by a police vehicle while crossing the street in the city, and was instantly knocked unconscious.
“Angela’s injuries were extensive, requiring life support,” Jeff told PopSugar of the surreal aftermath. “The most significant injury was a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Her injuries were horrific, and the outlook was not good. She was in a coma for four weeks before waking and beginning the long and difficult recovery process.”
When Angela did come to, however, she was disoriented and seemed to have forgotten the last 17 years of her life. In her mind, she was still married to her first husband, who died in 1998, and believed that her teenage daughter was still a toddler, according to the New York Daily News.
And she definitely didn’t have any recollection of who Jeff was.
Thus began the couple’s long journey to get to know each other again, starting from scratch. “We had to start all over again: friendship, trust, affection, hope, faith,” he told PopSugar. “All the things which built the relationship the first time. I was 100 percent responsible for making it all happen again as she just wasn’t capable the few years following the accident.”
The pair moved from NYC back to Oklahoma in those years in order to focus on rebuilding their relationship once more.
“Every single day is about making new memories now,” Angela told the Daily News. “I’m very fortunate because I get to do that again. My life wasn’t taken.”
In order to jog her memory, Jeff would show her photos and videos of the two of them together, and tell her stories about the meaningful trips and special places they had visited together. The strategy worked, and the pair have now redeveloped their feelings for each other, and they are stronger than ever.
On Monday, June 16, the pair renewed their marriage vows in Central Park.
“We’ve worked so hard all this time, to get to the point with this marker,” Jeff told the Daily News. “We’re going to turn the corner and start this new phase. The wedding is definitely that marker, and then we’re going on vacation.”
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