Jim Alan Clemens and Karisa Brianne Clemens met and became good friends. It was totally platonic, at first… but you know how these things go.
After they’d moved away from one another, Jim and Karisa realized they missed each other desperately.
It wasn’t long before they reunited, fell in love and got married.
The couple from Texas were over the moon about their first child, a baby girl named Angela.
Their family continued to grow with their first son, Zachary…
…and then they got a huge surprise less than one year later, with their son Wyatt.
A third boy, Nicholas, arrived two years later.
Just when it looked as though the Clemens family was complete, they welcomed one last addition in 2018.
Baby Julieanna was the last child Karisa and Jim would bring into the world.
To celebrate their eighth anniversary, Karisa and Jim enjoyed a low-key evening with their children and family friends.
“Nothing says ‘it’s been an awesome 8 years!” like sushi and root beer,” Karisa wrote on Facebook.
The family had dinner together and sat around with their family.
Usually, the kids all took turns telling a story, but this time it was Karisa and Jim who decided to tell a very special story to their kids insted: their love story.
“This has sure been a roller coaster of a ride, but I can’t imagine anyone else better to experience the ups and downs with,” Karisa wrote to Jim.
I love you sweetheart.
8 years ago I made a life changing commitment to you and I would do it again and again.
Thank you for being my eternal companion.”
On April 7, 2018, Jim and Karisa — at age 31 and 29 respectively — were driving home from a family outing with their five kids when another driver lost control of a Chevrolet Tahoe and struck the family’s Suburban head-on.
Jim and Karisa both died in the crash, along with their two-month-old daughter, Julieanna.
Their other four kids, Angela, 8, Zachary, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Nicholas, 2, were rushed to the hospital.
While Nicholas was treated and released, his siblings Wyatt, Zachary and Angela all suffered multiple injuries.
At first, their varying prognosis were uncertain.
Finally, Angela opened her eyes.
The children’s great aunt, Teresa Burrell, shared an incredibly powerful photo of Zachary holding Angela’s hand on a hospital bed. The photo captured the moment the siblings saw each other for the first time since the deaths of their parents and baby sister.
“I stand all amazed at the miracles which occur when we align our prayers with our Heavenly Father’s will,” Teresa wrote on Facebook. “Yesterday, we asked for you all to send a special prayer for Zachary. We have seen so many miracles with him. Yesterday, he was able to leave his bed and get into the wheelchair for the first time. He and Angie were able to see each other for the first time.
Angie has had a lot of brain injuries, but yesterday she was able to read and sing with us. Our hearts are so full of the miracles we are experiencing.
This morning Wyatt was taken out of his wheelchair and was walking towards the physical therapy room and the therapist had to stop him from trying to run. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. We feel them. Miracles are Happening!”
Then came another update about Wyatt, Zachary and Angela: “All 3 kids that are receiving medical care at Cook Children’s are now on the same rehab floor and were finally reunited a few days ago! Wyatt is doing so well. He suffered paralysis on his left side, but through PT has regained strength and movement. He can walk with a spotter, and they are having a hard time convincing him he shouldn’t be running! He is a great comfort and support to his older siblings.
Zach is struggling. He has had trouble eating and they have given him a feeding tube to make sure he is receiving adequate nutrition. He is also fighting off infection, and as a result has had a high fever for the past few days. He is in a lot of pain – both physical and emotional – and is our greatest concern at this point.
Angela continues to improve. She is talking more and more each day and is able to read fluently for short stints at a time. She took her first wheelchair ride outside yesterday to check the weather and was glad to be in the sunshine. They are still working on managing her pain as her legs are healing from severe injuries.
As can be expected, all 3 children — especially Zach and Angela — are struggling with grief as they are coming to accept the loss of their parents and baby sister.”
Another update soon followed: “Saturday, we saw the strength and courage that these siblings give to one another. Zachery has been really struggling and is having a hard time eating and taking his medicines. Besides the physical pain he experiences, he has been depressed.
For the first time all three children were able to spend time together. Their Grandma (they call her Ninny) and Aunt Sherri had a little ice cream party and have all the children be together in Zachery’s room. Because of his broken back Zach is in his bed most of the time. They sang silly songs and the boys were able to eat ice cream. For almost an hour they just spent time together.
It was a great time of healing and Zach was much improved by getting strength and support from his brother and sister. It was a magical healing moment. I think we all feel strengthened when we feel of others support and love. Thank you all for strengthening me and our family.”
The children will need extensive medical and therapeutic care for the foreseeable future. The Clemens family is now turning to their community and the public for help with medical care and funeral arrangements for Jim, Karisa and baby Julieanna.
“As we try to help these guys come to reality, when they are conscious, when they are able to understand that their parents are gone. That their little sister is gone, you know, it’s a challenge,” Teresa says.
“We just need to do what we can to help these kids recover, feel loved and move forward.”
If you would like to learn more or help the Clemens family in any way, please visit their online funds on Facebook or YouCaring.