CRAMERTON, N.C. (WJZY) — There’s often a sense of urgency for many that infuses every minute of every day. It can often overshadow everything and make it easy to forget that you need to stop and take a breath now and then.
But for Sharon and Chris Wooten, just like their daily walks, there’s no rush at all. They are happy to go slow.
“I joke, I say, ‘I’m like a sunflower,'” Chris laughed. “I like to be out in the sun,”
Four years ago, Chris was a North Carolina State Trooper, working to keep the state’s roads safe while protecting citizens. While chasing a suspect on his motorcycle, he was hit and paralyzed from the neck down.
“I’m just thankful I’m alive,” Chris said. “I’ve got to be around my family. I wish I could hug them and kiss them still. They do that to me now, but I miss hugging them.”
Like a slideshow on fast forward, their big life moments before everything blur together. To Chris, it seemed like they were rushing through life.
“It’s funny how you get in ruts and stuff,” he said. “You know, you feel like you’re doing everything you can, but there’s always more you could do.”
After meeting at Walmart, Sharon and Chris fell in love. They’ve been married for 32 years.
“He is my best friend; he always has been. He was before; he is now. He is my life,” Sharon said.
To Chris, it’s a feeling he can’t get past sometimes.
“I always feel like I’m holding her back,” Chris said. “Now, she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I’d be lost without him, so no, it’s not holding me back, but exactly where I want to be,” she said.
After the accident, they spent two years at an Atlanta rehab facility. Though Sharon and Chris always been close, they connected even more. In November 2021, they finally returned to their Cramerton home.
Their journey home came with lots of fanfare. Banners, escorts, and people came out to welcome them home. When they pulled up to the driveway, the Wootens grinned from ear to ear.
“I couldn’t believe it. I felt like we were behind the president or something, you know? And they said the president doesn’t get parades like this,” Chris laughed.
Sharon remembered being in awe of the trip.
“We were so excited to be coming home; we knew people would be excited to see us. We knew there would be a homecoming, but it was beyond anything we could have ever dreamed of,” she said.
Life has changed, but Chris is here to live it. He now treasures those moments he could have missed, from officiating his daughters’ weddings to hearing the laugh of his first grandchild.
“Almost be like a fly on the wall,” he said. “I get to watch everybody. You get a different perspective of happiness, I guess. I’m getting to see joy in a different way.”
“Knowing (life), it’s in a different way, but it’s still so amazing,” Sharon said.
It is different because there’s no forgetting anymore. Now, life is something to hold on to and slowly savor because they aren’t in any hurry.