A Trauma That Tied Them Together

When Amber Artis, a professional matchmaker, approached Travis Ogden Johnson, he was skeptical. The two had become acquainted through the networking site LinkedIn, and she was looking to set him up with her friend and business associate, Rachael Leigh Bozsik. Ms. Artis insisted that Ms. Bozsik was “the one.”

Both Mr. Johnson and Ms. Bozsik agreed to a phone call arranged by Ms. Artis on Oct. 20, 2020, and after 45 minutes of pleasant conversation, they decided to meet in person.

So, about a month later, Mr. Johnson, who lived in Chicago and has worked as an interim chief executive for a number of private businesses, flew to Charleston, S.C., where Ms. Bozsik lived. They met in the lobby of the Hotel Bennett.

“I had been smitten from our phone conversation and I knew that if she was half as pretty as her photos, I would be in trouble,” said Mr. Johnson, 43, who graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in communications and another in business. “When she walked toward me and lowered her mask to give me a huge smile, I was done.”

Their date went well. It featured a helicopter sunset tour of Charleston followed by dinner at Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill and cocktails at the Dewberry Charleston hotel.

Ms. Bozsik, 30, graduated from High Point University with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and another in interior design and runs a luxury branding firm that supports female entrepreneurs. Ms. Artis is a client. She found Mr. Johnson to be handsome and “a total gentleman.”

“We shared a lot of core values and goals in life,” Ms. Bozsik said. “But I didn’t think it would be a great match because he talked so much about himself — come to find out later, he was just trying to let me know through stories that he was a good guy.”

As they were about to part, she said to him, “I think we best just be friends.”

Mr. Johnson was disappointed but decided not to push the matter, saying only, “It was great meeting you. If you are ever in Chicago, let me know and I will show you around.”

A month later, when Ms. Bozsik tried to fix him up with one of her friends who was living in Chicago, Mr. Johnson suggested they try again. “I’m really looking for someone more like you,” he said.

Ms. Bozsik was wary but agreed, and on Jan. 1, 2021, Mr. Johnson flew her to Chicago. “I was going to have to do some serious courting,” he said.

The two explored Chicago together and she met some of his friends. And from that second date on, they never looked back.

They started splitting time between the two cities; they kept their own places, even as the relationship grew more serious.

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On Oct. 23, 2021, Ms. Bozsik’s 29th birthday, Mr. Johnson proposed. He rented a private room at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant. “I pretended to drop a napkin and picked up the ring that I hid under the table,” he said. “I asked her to marry me. She said ,‘Is this really happening right now? Yes.’”

All was going well for the couple as they planned their wedding — until May 8, 2021, when Mr. Johnson was struck by a car while riding his motorcycle a block away from his condominium on Michigan Avenue. He broke both arms, wrists, a leg and an ankle; he also shattered a hand and an elbow.

Ms. Bozsik was in Charleston at the time at a client meeting, and rushed to Chicago upon hearing the news of his accident.

Mr. Johnson went through two rounds — 19 hours — of trauma surgery. Just before the first surgery, Mr. Johnson asked a nurse to use his phone to send a text message on his behalf to his best friend, Sasha Wiesen, asking him to look out for Ms. Bozsik if he did not make it. He wanted her to know that he loved her deeply and wanted her to be happy — and to find love again.

“That was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same exact time,” Ms. Bozsik said.

The doctors predicted that he would be in a wheelchair for six to eight months. As his recovery progressed, Ms. Bozsik cared for him. He continues to receive regular physical therapy.

“These were the best and the worst months of our lives,” Ms. Bozsik said. “We truly understood what our relationship was made of and we combated the trauma together. We were learning together with a lot of love.”

After moving their wedding date several times to be sure that Mr. Johnson would be able to stand, walk and dance, the date was set for Jan. 7, 2023 in Lenox, Mass. Charles Bozsik, Ms. Bozsik’s paternal grandfather, who was ordained for their wedding via a certificate by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, officiated before 30 guests.

Before Mr. Johnson’s father, Terry, died on April 20, 2020, he spoke of legally changing the family surname back to what it was when their relatives immigrated from Sweden: Johanson. To honor his memory, the couple both legally changed their names to Johanson when signing their marriage certificate.

source: nytimes.com