clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Murray couple shares story of tragedy, forgiveness and love

Husband overdoses on cocaine and now lives as a quadriplegic

MURRAY — It's 9 a.m. at the bagel shop, and Colleen Farr orders a nine-grain bagel for herself and a cherry Danish for her husband, Brent.

Monday through Saturday, this is their date. She smiles brightly and laughs easily, but life is anything but.

They were high school sweethearts and have been married 33 years. She promised to love him in sickness and in health, in times that were good, and in times that were not so good.

"It was a Sunday morning, just kind of a lazy morning," Colleen Farr recalled. "I heard kind of a snort and looked over. He was kind of frothing and didn't look right. I couldn't wake him up. I called 911. He wasn't breathing and turning purple. My son just remembers how frantic my voice was."

The news from the medical staff was most unexpected.

"They came in and said he tested positive for cocaine, and I was just blown away," she said.

His life took a 180-degree turn. He suffered severe brain and nerve damage. Brent's vascular system was deprived of oxygen for too long.

Brent is now confined to a wheelchair and lives life as a quadriplegic. Though he can feel his limbs, they no longer function properly.

The incident happened in 2003. They were both active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which encourages its members not to drink, smoke or take drugs. Brent was a good father and provider who was very athletic. He often ran 50-mile trail races.

His doctors did all they could, and though he is stable, he is unlikely to regain any more movement or abilities than he has now.

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation at University Hospital and treated Brent in rehab. He said along with the brain damage, the overdose caused damage similar to a spinal cord injury.

"Many times the drugs cause spasms in the blood vessels and those spasms, or constriction to the blood vessels, restrict flow of blood and oxygen to the tissues, particularly nerve tissues," Rosenbluth said.

Brent Farr's world is a small room at the front of their sunny, well-decorated home. He calls it his "man cave." He passes the time watching TV and movies. Though they are both at peace with their lives, it wasn't always this way.

Colleen remembers visiting him at the hospital.

"Going in and every single time having to go to the bathroom when I got on that elevator because I was just sick to my stomach," she recalled. "It was scary."

Their son, Thomas Farr, was just 13 at the time.

"I just remember being confused," said Thomas Farr, who is still close with his father. "He taught me everything I know."

Colleen recalled the feeling of panic, of life being turned upside down. "I just asked the doctor, 'What do I do now?'"

At the Einstein Bros Bagels on Wasatch Boulevard, everyone knows their names. "This is Brent's table," Colleen Farr said, laughing.

She regularly lifts her husband into a sitting position and helps him into his wheelchair. He depends on her for everything.

Mark Wilcox of Millcreek comes into the bagel shop every morning, along with many others who have also made it their routine. "He's my bro'," Wilcox said. "He's awesome. He's doing a great job surviving."

Brent Farr said in college he tried cocaine twice. It was the euphoric feeling, the escape that he remembered. Years later, he lost his job. Depressed, he looked for help in the wrong place.

"That stays with you always," his wife said. "You don't know if one time is going to make you an addict."

Colleen Farr says she has never brought up the drug use with her husband — not even once has she asked him, "Why?"

"There's no sense in going back. That's not going to help anything or solve anything," she said.

The couple says they still love each other deeply and they are "OK" with how life is for them now.

"I'm happy," Brent Farr said. "I know I chose to do this. I have a wonderful wife."

Thirteen years later, and decades after "I do," Brent, too, gives all he can to Colleen. And while he sits, his son stands tall.

"The way he treats my mom, learning from him that way," Thomas Farr said. "He treats her the best; it's all he has."

Some consequences are lasting. But then again, sometimes love is, too. "I absolutely love him. I do," Colleen Farr said.

In their driveway, Brent Farr does his "trick" — a 360-degree turn in his motorized wheelchair as his wife laughs.

Redemption can still come — if you believe it can — through ties that bind and free, his wife said.

"It wasn't real hard for me to forgive him because he was the same person he was the day before," she said.

Email: hsimonsen@deseretnews.com