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When you find your own everything succumbs – How Woman Who Lost Limbs to Flesh-Eating Bacteria Found Love, as Husband Says She’s ‘Perfect’ (Exclusive)

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When you find your own everything succumbs - How Woman Who Lost Limbs to Flesh-Eating Bacteria Found Love, as Husband Says She’s ‘Perfect’ (Exclusive)

 

After Aimee Copeland’s traumatic zip-lining accident in 2012, which required an amputation of each of her limbs, she had to accept that the man she was dating before her accident was not going to be a part of her future. But it was that split that led her to fully embrace the life ahead of her — and ultimately led her to find her soulmate, Stephen Mercier, in 2015.

 

When you find your own everything succumbs - How Woman Who Lost Limbs to Flesh-Eating Bacteria Found Love, as Husband Says She’s ‘Perfect’ (Exclusive)

“We were a 95% match on OkCupid,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “We’re extremely compatible. We’re very different, but in ways that really balance each other.”

“I consider him by my built-in brake system,” the now-36-year-old survivor says. “When I’m hitting the gas too hard, I know I’m not going to hit a retaining wall because he will tap the brakes and mind to relax.”

She adds: “We have an amazing flow together.”

It didn’t take long after they met for Mercier, 36, to be “really attracted to her powerful mind, her powerful just energy and spirit about her,” he says, adding, “She’s definitely a manifesting-type person to where she can kind of make things happen.”

Over the years, he’s been there as she she became a licensed therapist, got two masters degrees and started her non-profit, The Aimee Copeland Foundation in 2017, where she helps people with disabilities get out into nature. She’s also launched All-Terrain Georgia, an initiative providing off-road wheelchairs to help more people access state parks.

In the early days of their relationship, which was filled with philosophical conversations, camping trips and kayaking trips, Copeland says it was Mercier who helped her regain her self-esteem.

“I have this memory that really stands out of me and Stephen cuddling, and he’s like, ‘I think your body is absolutely perfect,’’ ’ she recalls, “He really appreciates me. I haven’t had low-self esteem since then. I feel beautiful.”

Even though she fell hard in the beginning, Copeland wanted to take it slow, and was “playing the field a little bit,” she says. But she soon realized he was the one. After five years together, they decided to get married and had a small and “really meaningful” ceremony at her family’s lake house in 2021.

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