|(2004 and 2014)|
August 5th, 2004 was a hot muggy Thursday in Phoenix. I had returned from Kevin's pre-deployment vacation up in Portland, Oregon to visit his family. The 2nd deployment was only weeks away, and I just watched his mother say goodbye to him. She had done this before, but it was brand new to me. I saw her cry, and I saw the fear in her eyes. It was on that trip in Oregon that he made a comment about what if he did not make it home that stayed with me. I never thought about that. What if he didn’t make it home? I was only his girlfriend, and I couldn’t only be the girlfriend. I loved this man more than anything. I didn’t want my love for him to fade away if he didn’t come home. Girlfriends aren’t listed on an obituary.
As I sat in my parents’ house, gearing up for a brand new semester at Arizona State, I had only a few weekends left with this man I met only 6 months ago. I had to send him to war? Why? This was the hardest thing I ever had to do. In tears, I made a phone call to him I never thought I would make at the age of 19. “Do you still want to marry me?” I asked. That Friday morning he went to his command to let them know he needed to leave to go get married. By the time he had arrived in Phoenix after that 4-hour drive, it was too late to do it in Arizona. So we got in the car and drove to Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday August 7th.
Once we arrived in Las Vegas, our first stop was the courthouse. We had to get our marriage license application and make it to our appointment at the Chapel. We made it just in time with only a couple of minutes to spare. Together in an empty chapel with the pastor, and his wife who was our witness, we were married. Once we emerged from the chapel we realized how much it was going to suck to drive back to Phoenix after the day we went through. He called his mom and told her a little white lie that he was in Vegas, and needed a hotel room because he and his USMC buddies had drank way too much, and couldn’t drive back to base. She got him a cheap room at the Boardwalk hotel for his 24th birthday present (since it was only a week away) and that’s where we spent our wedding night, completely broke but in love, and blissfully happy eating a pizza with only 2 weeks left together.
The next two weeks flew by insanely fast. We were living 4 hours apart, and he was getting ready for his second deployment. It was too difficult for him to come out to Phoenix, so I had to drive out to base. We had to take care of making everything official in the Marine Corps. We had to go to the hospital to get me enrolled in Tricare, then off to DEERS to get my ID, and finally to get our base stickers on our vehicles. Even though we were newlyweds, the blur of the deployment was there and our time together was quickly running out. He ironically was scheduled to deploy on the first day of school, so we said goodbye the Sunday before and it was the most heartbreaking drive back to Phoenix of my life. I had to pull over on the side of highway 62 in the middle of the desert and throw up twice. I just said goodbye to my new husband and I was deathly afraid of it being forever.
We kept our marriage a secret for 20 months; nobody had directly asked me if we were married. I didn’t sit there and think “how will this hurt our families?” because the reality is, we weren’t hurting anyone. We were enduring something as husband and wife that not many can say they have been through, and it was hard. The seven months he was in Iraq my life was at a standstill. It revolved around letters, phone calls, and wishing it was February because that’s when he was coming home. It was hard to read letters from Kevin about brothers dying, getting shot at, and standing post, him getting in that Humvee incident where he eventually would sustain life long problems and have neurosurgery. It was hard sitting and working at AZ PBS at night; I worked in Master Control and had to watch the news report roll the names of deceased in Iraq before the commercial break. I would watch names one by one with USMC listed next to them, and just cry. I would beg and plead to myself sitting in that glass box in Tempe, please God, do not put my husband or his brothers’ names on that screen please do not put a name up there I know. Two months later, it happened. There was the name of his brother, someone I spent time with in Palm Springs. I felt my world collapse. This wasn’t some long distance relationship; my husband was in a war.Over the last 10 years, so many things have happened, both good and bad, as we try to figure out life after being injured. We had an incredible wedding where we celebrated with a vow renewal on February 3rd, 2007, with all of our family and friends. The birth of Isabelle Ellen, on March 13th, 2008 brought so much joy to our lives. The Marine Corps activating Kevin in 2008 and trying to deploy him a 4th time to Afghanistan. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 2010. The birth of Abigail Emma on December 29th, 2010, which brought even more joy to our family. There was a move to Reno in 2011 for a year that didn't work out, and we quickly moved back to Phoenix. Kevin having neurosurgery in 2012, and soon after we were awarded a home from Building Homes for Heroes. Our lives may not be perfect, but I know that after 10 years if I had to go back in time I would do it all over again. Why? Because I meant what I said to Kevin on August 7th, 2004 - to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Love you, you crazy ass devil dog! 10 years down, and a lifetime to go! Can't imagine my life with anyone else!
|10 Years! <3|
Professional photo credits: Wailea Photography, Ivy Studios Photography, mmb Photography, Photography by Jo, and Mark Mabry Photography.