The Love Story Behind That Beautiful Photo Of A Woman Carrying Her Double-Amputee Marine Husband

You might have seen this picture pop on your Facebook newsfeed sometime in the past couple days. A smiling woman stands in a lake, carrying her double amputee husband on her back, as he grins and holds her close. It was posted a couple weeks ago on the photographer’s Facebook page, and has since gone viral, garnering over 15,000 likes and nearly 4,000 shares. The people in the photo are Kelly and Jesse Cottle. Jesse is a Marine who lost his legs after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan four years ago. Several months later, while trying out his new prosthetic legs at a local swim meet, he met Kelly. “If I hadn’t stepped on that IED, I wouldn’t have met her,” Jesse told ABC News. “I wouldn’t take it back ever.” 

The couple just celebrated their first wedding anniversary, and were celebrating the occasion with Kelly’s family in Idaho when they inadvertently posed for the picture that would soon inspire thousands of strangers. While setting up a family portrait, “someone had suggested taking photos in the water,” said Kelly. “I was carrying Jesse back to his legs, and the photographer was like, ‘Oh we’ll get a couple of shots of you together.’ It wasn’t planned or anything.”

My favorite part might be what Jesse had to say about his wife: “The photo really says it all. I actually look at it very much as a symbol for our whole relationship in general. She’s physically carrying me, but man, there’s times where she’s carrying me emotionally. It’s a perfect representation of who Kelly is.” So touching. [People]