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Christina Hampton, pictured on her wedding day with her two sons, Nicholas, 5, and Hunter, 3, lost her husband in a tragic accident in late March. Arlington Christian Church is hosting a community benefit to raise money to cover the costs of the funeral and impending medical expenses as well as basic needs for living.

In the past year and a half, Christina Hampton, 22, has endured more than most people could handle. Illness, surgery, a difficult pregnancy and tragedy have plagued the young mother, and forced her to be strong for her two young sons.

Her saga began Christmas of 2004. Joshua Hampton, 29, Christina’s boyfriend at the time, slipped on ice and hit his head, almost causing him to die. He experienced amnesia, barely able to remember his girlfriend of almost eight years and his two young sons.

He finally recovered, but developed narcolepsy, a condition which causes those who have it to fall asleep at a moment’s notice; the fall had caused his brain to shift.

The financial burden of the accident was a big blow to the family. Josh worked construction and didn’t have insurance.

The family pulled together and did the best they could, and moved on to what they hoped would be the road to happiness.

May 8 of that year, Christina and Josh were married at Arlington Christian Church. Both were very active in the congregation and the church was a central part of their relationship. It was only appropriate that they begin their married lives together at their church home.

The wedding photos tell the story of a happy, smiling couple, their two smiling and happy little boys, the cake made by her grandmother, married by a preacher they loved and respected.

“It was one of the happiest days of my life,” Christina recalled.

Summer made its way to fall, and Christina and Josh and the boys prepared for the holiday season, which was to be a happy time. Or so they thought.

Nov. 15, Josh was admitted into the hospital.

For a few days he had experienced violent coughing attacks. He became concerned when he started coughing up blood. Josh went to Major Hospital in Shelbyville, where he was told he had pneumonia, but the couple wasn’t buying it.

“I knew that there was something else going on, and so did he,” Hampton said.

The couple sought a second opinion at Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield. He was shipped immediately to Community North Hospital in Indianapolis after a series of scopes and scans revealed that there was indeed something more serious behind the violent cough.

“Josh was diagnosed with histoplasmosis, which is a fungus from bird droppings,” Hampton said. “He had three surgeries in Indianapolis and got to come home the day before Thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving Day, Josh had 90 percent of his left lung removed.

The surgery, which was supposed to take two hours, turned into a 10-hour ordeal as the surgical team experienced problems during the procedure.

The days and weeks following the surgery were trying times for the Hampton family. He was slowly weaned off of oxygen and painkillers and finally got to go home in late December.

Four months later, he was killed.

Christina can clearly remember the day of the fatal accident in Fountaintown that claimed the life of her young husband.

“Josh had worked construction basically the whole time we were together, and after he had surgery, he just couldn’t work outside anymore, it was just too hard on him,” Christina recalled. “He needed work. We were really struggling with the medical bills, and so he was heading to Elwood Staffing in Greenfield to fill out paperwork.”

Josh begged Christina to go with him, but Nicholas was asleep and they both decided to let him take his afternoon nap.

“He kept walking in and telling me bye. I blew him kisses all the way down the road, and as he turned onto 52, I cried. I don’t know why. I just felt bad for not going with him when he really wanted me to,” Hampton said. “I wish now we all would have gone. That way, I would have been driving.”

At 11:50 a.m., Josh was driving east on U.S. 52 near its intersection with SR 9 in his sister’s 1992 Dodge Caravan when he crossed the center line and struck a semi. He died instantly.

“The tire was messed up on the van, and I wanted to go with him because I was afraid he’d get stranded or something,” Christina said. “My cell phone battery died, but I turned on my phone around noon and I had a message from Josh at 11:30. He said, ‘Hey, this is Josh. Someone needs to come and pick me up. I’m tired and I can’t keep my eyes open.’”

Several police officers, along with the Shelby County coroner, arrived at her home at 2:30 p.m. that fateful day.

“I came into the living room and all of these uniformed officers were in my house. They asked me where my husband was. I said he went to Greenfield, should be home any moment,” Hampton said. “Another officer took over from there and asked if I wanted to sit down. I told him I just wanted to know what was going on. That’s when he told me.”

The officer informed her that her husband had been in a fatal car accident, and had died instantly at the scene of the collision. The officer went to his car and retrieved items found at the scene, including the deceased’s wallet.

“I told them I didn’t believe them, that I wanted to see him. My kids were screaming and crying. Even that young, they knew what was going on,” she said.

The casket at the funeral was closed. Christina never realized that the last time she saw her husband would be the morning she blew him kisses all the way down U.S. 52.

“He was buried in his church suit that he wore every Sunday,” Christina said. “They had to put his wedding ring on his right pinkie finger, but he was buried with that too,” she said.

And Christina’s life since has yet to be the same.

She is pregnant with Josh’s child and is due Nov. 1. Due to the trauma and stress in the aftermath of the tragedy, she has experienced complications with her pregnancy. But despite the odds, she is looking forward to finding out the sex of her child at the end of the month.

“We had decided when I first found out that I was pregnant that if it was a girl we were going to name her Kristin Nicole,” Christina said. “If it is a boy I’m going to name him Joshua William.”

The hearts of many in the congregation of Arlington Christian Church went out to the longtime members of their congregation, now struggling to make ends meet while dealing with the loss of their father and husband.

Bills began mounting with medical, utility and funeral costs. The transmission went out on their truck, adding to the expenses. Christina is unable to work due to the complications she is experiencing with her pregnancy, and the mounting bills are becoming more than the tiny congregation at Arlington Christian Church can handle.

So, the church is reaching out to the community to help the family by hosting a benefit hog roast for the Hampton family from 4 to 7 p.m. July 1 at the Posey Township Volunteer Fire Department.

There will be a freewill offering to go toward the immediate needs and funeral expenses of the family. Carry-out will be available, and many silent auction items donated from local merchants and individuals will be up for grabs.

Checks may be made out to Arlington Christian Church, and designate on the memo line that the donation is for Christina Hampton. Interested donors or those with questions are asked to call Shelly Gardner at 663-2792 or Marsha Noble at 663-2137.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Christina said. “I get up, take care of my kids, and go to the cemetery and talk to Josh every single day.”

A small memento of the dedication that Josh had to his family helps Christina get through these trying times.

“I was going through his wallet the night that he died and I found a laminated Elwood Staffing card that had scripture on the front and a prayer on the back that reads, ‘Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to have a chance to become employed again and be able to better support my family, Amen.’

“I look at it every day and I feel closer to him. It gives me hope,” she said.

Rushville Republican staff writer Elizabeth Gist can be contacted at (765) 932-2222 or via e-mail at elizabeth.gist@cnhimedia.com. To add a comment visit our Website at www.rushvillerepublican.com.

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