Kevin and Amanda Johnson have a much greater appreciation of the traditional wedding vows that are exchanged when a couple marry. They say it's easy to ascribe to the positive attributes: better, richer, joy and health. But what about worse, poorer, sorrow and sickness? Marriage makes no promises.
On New Year's Eve 2006, Kevin Johnson was enjoying a workout at a local gym, but he had a headache that was getting progressively worse. At 4 a.m. the following day, Johnson was rushed to the emergency room and learned he had a brain aneurysm.
When no local surgeon would agree to operate, the Edmond couple tracked down a doctor in California who specialized in this type of condition. Four days later, Johnson was on a medical flight to San Francisco, where he underwent a nine-hour surgery.
"With this kind of surgery, the survival rate is less than 10 percent," Amanda said. "Kevin was kept in a drug-induced coma for a month following the procedure and then had to learn how to walk and talk again. The brain injury also caused him to revert to (being) like a 10-year old. He had to relearn those social skills."
During seven grueling months of rehabilitation, Kevin slowly began piecing his life back together. The Johnsons said their faith in God and the support of their family and friends helped them through.
"It's so easy to take things for granted," Amanda, 31, said. "When Kevin was finally back home, someone asked me how I was doing. I told her that I got to wake up next to my husband that day. You learn to appreciate the little things in life."
"I give Amanda credit because she chose to love me, to encourage me and to support me," Kevin, 32, said. "Love is an action and a choice. You may not always feel like it, but you act on it, and your emotions follow. That's probably the biggest thing I learned from this."
As an outward sign of their family unity, the Johnsons have a family Bible verse, a cheer, a signal and a handshake. Their motto? "Charge on." Life is going to throw you some curveballs, Kevin said, but you just have to keep charging on.
"People are not defined by their job or an event," Kevin said. "I'm defined by who God says I am. That may sound cheesy to some people, but I don't care. I choose to believe that. There are times when we get choked up, but this is a huge part of who we are. It's a story of victory."
Since Kevin's recovery, the Johnsons, now married seven years, have frequently shared their story with school and church groups. Their ordeal has also taught them about the importance of life and making every day count. One of the happiest moments the Johnsons shared was the birth of their daughter in April.
"Kevin and I struggled for five years to start a family," Amanda said. "We went through three rounds of in vitro fertilization before we got pregnant. Josie was born in April of this year, and now both she and her daddy are miracles.
"We feel like we've really lived through those wedding vows during our short life together, and we're committed to each other for life. That's what marriage is all about. The fact that we've made it through this shows (that) you should never lose hope."
Kevin and Amanda Johnson are featured in the "Oklahoma's Most Inspiring Couples" 2010 calendar, sponsored by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. Couples featured in the calendar are being profiled in The Oklahoman's Life section each month. For more information about the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative's inspiring couples, go to www.