Sunday, August 11, 2013

Once Upon A Time... (Our Story)

It was mentioned to me that maybe I should put my story on here to show women that may be going through the same things that they aren't alone. So here it is.

I met my husband, Brandon, in 2008. I was 17 and we were both in Salt Lake City, Utah going to college. I had this plan to not have a boyfriend and focus on my career, but from the first second that I met Brandon I knew that plan was quickly going down the drain. Our relationship didn't start right off the bat. In fact, he kind of irritated me for the first little bit. I think it was more because I don't like people throwing me off balance and he did every time he smiled at me. My heart would race and I would trip over my words. I couldn't deny for very long that he had me. It also didn't take long for me to realize that my feelings were matched though he didn't want to admit it either We started hanging out after work and school almost every day. Just as friends, of course. He was sure to state that every time which just made it more obvious to me that he was only trying to convince himself. That didn't last either. One night around 1 AM I looked into his eyes and asked if I was his girl or not. He smiled and said yes. From then on my heart belonged to him.

We dated for about 8 months. It was passionate, crazy, and wonderful. He knocked me head over heals for him and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this boy. There could be no other. Then he did the unthinkable. He joined the Army. I still remember the shock that smacked me in the face when he told me he had signed the papers. I felt all my blood run from my face as horrifying images of him running through jungles and being shot at ran through my head. Every war movie I had ever seen came to memory and every single person that died had Brandon's face on them. Then I began to realize everything he was going to miss. Birthdays and holidays. We wouldn't be doing the wedding we had been starting to talk about any time soon. The devastation set in and first I felt angry. I lashed out at him. Asking why I didn't matter? Why he wanted to leave me? Then the tears came. I cried myself to sleep. I cried while he packed. I cried halfway through several dinners. Then the numbness settled over me and I stopped doing anything but going through the motions of every day. I went to class and listened to the professors. I went home and made dinner. I went to bed. Same thing every day as the time till his departure ticked ever closer. I moved back with my family after the school year was over and we tried to hang on as a couple. But a week before he left, between not wanting to live a military life and some religious differences, we broke up.  My heart shattered into a million pieces and the next 2 years were spent having very little contact with Brandon and trying to move on with my life. I kept telling myself it was for the better. I never wanted to be a military spouse. I wasn't cut out for that life. I needed someone there for me always. I wasn't strong enough to live apart from someone I loved like that. But then...that became the answer to everything. I couldn't live without him. Even if it meant giving up the plans that I had laid out for my future, if it meant dealing with the military struggles, I was willing to do it if I could just have the love of my life back. There was just no moving past him. I dated other people, even loved some, but it was never the same. I couldn't see me spending forever with them. So one day I picked up the phone and asked him if he felt the same. He did.

I flew out to visit him. It was the first time I had seen him in over a year. I cried when I came around the corner in the airport and saw him there. He had rushed straight from work to pick me up. It was the first time I had ever seen him in his uniform. My heart skipped a beat. He was so handsome. He was so proud. That moment made me realize that I could never ask him to give that up for me. That I would go through anything just to keep him standing proud. Loving him meant loving his desire to serve. So I did. I walked off that plane single but I headed home far from that status.

We started talking about a wedding fairly quickly. I knew I wanted to marry him but I didn't want to rush. Besides it was fall at this time and I've always wanted a wedding in the spring. So we decided that June would be a good time to get married. It would give us time to get to know each other again and time for me to plan my dream wedding. Then the bomb dropped. Brandon got deployment orders. He was leaving in January for a year. I think I stopped breathing for a moment when he told me. I know my mind flat lined because for at least 10 min I couldn't seem to process any coherent thought. Then all I could do was ask for details. Of course, at that point he didn't know a lot and what he did he couldn't tell me over the phone. It was a short conversation. I just wanted to go to bed, wanted time to think. I spent a very sleepless night trying to figure out how to handle this. There were tears. The next day we started talking about what to do. A June wedding was out of the question now. It's a little hard to get married when your groom is in another country fighting a war. That left two choices. Get married now, like ASAP, or wait till Brandon came home in a year. Neither option seemed like a great plan to me. I panicked. How in the world was I supposed to have my dream wedding when I would have only 2 or 3 weeks to plan it. How would we pay for it? And was I really sure that I was ready to give myself over fully to this man? At the same time waiting a year seemed like torture. Brandon didn't want to wait. He was concerned because I didn't have health insurance at the time. He looked at us getting married as a way for him to make sure I was taken care of. In his mind he knew I was the one he wanted to marry so why wait. He also once made a joking comment about how having me married to him would mean that someone else could take care of his finances while he was gone. =) Brandon hates dealing with money. Then there was the fact that as a girlfriend, or even a fiancĂ©, you means nothing to the Army. I wouldn't have as much access to information about what was happening. I wouldn't have the contact info of people who could answer questions. I wouldn't have the support system while he was gone. Besides, I loved him, with all my heart. I didn't want anyone else. There was no reason to let my fear get the best of me or to let some selfish need for some huge wedding to get in the way of our love. So we got married. We planned it in 2 weeks. Only our immediate family was invited because we couldn't afford anything big. When Dec 7th, 2010 dawned we went to my sister's church and married standing in front of the people who meant the most to us. I am blessed to have a sister and brother-in-law who are photographers so we got beautiful photos. My mother-in-law made us a cake and gave us her wedding ring since we couldn't afford to buy one. My oldest sister made me the most gorgeous bouquet. My aunt helped me buy a simple dress and alter it. My parents paid for us to go out for dinner afterwards and got us a room in The Anniversary Inn for our wedding night. Everyone went out of their way to travel to Utah to be at our wedding. Maybe at the time I didn't realize how special it was. There were moments where I cried about not having my dream wedding. But sitting here writing this now makes me realize that that wedding was my dream wedding. It was more special than anything else we could have planned. Our families pulled together to give us everything they could to make our day perfect. I couldn't have felt more loved or been more grateful for it. I truly have wonderful family.

Three weeks later, Brandon left my side to go fight for our freedom in Afghanistan. That first year was one of the biggest trials in my life. I struggled a lot and I missed my husband in an almost crippling way. However, I learned more about myself and my strength during that year than I had in any other time in my life. I grew up. I became the woman I am. I started this blog. =) Even though it was painful and difficult I would do that year over if I had the choice because the lessons I learned are priceless. Besides, the homecoming was like falling in love all over again. The return ceremony totally makes the time apart worth it.
Still, we wanted to be able to celebrate with everyone. All our friends and family. We wanted to share our happiness with all who we loved. So we planned a big ring ceremony for after Brandon returned. At first I thought it would be strange. It didn't help that a lot of people that I grew up with didn't understand and made nasty comments about me having another ceremony. That I didn't deserve it or I was being greedy. However, we discovered that this sort of thing was and is very common in the military. There are lists of reasons why it is hard to get time off for big weddings and more so for why you want to be married rather than engaged for a long time. Besides, it's so much easier to save for a big wedding when you have a little bit more money coming in. The support I got from other military spouses was amazing. The people who were most important were excited. So on May 25th, 2012 we had a beautiful ring ceremony in Idaho. Everyone we could think of was invited. I got that "dream" wedding I wanted though I've grown to love my first one the most. We also were sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple on May 24th, 2012 as we are LDS (Mormons). All our family and friends once again went out of their ways to make us feel loved and to celebrate our union.  I guess that is one other thing that makes us military spouses lucky. We can have multiple weddings with one groom! Talk about every girls dream hahaha ;) We had gorgeous flowers and gorgeous company. My photographer was amazing. My cake was fantastic. My wedding party was perfect and fun. I couldn't have asked for more. It was one of the happiest two days of my life. Once again I found myself falling even deeper in love with Brandon even though I had no idea I could possibly love him more.

And now here we are. Our present day life. My hubby is on his second tour to Afghanistan and I'm happily waiting for him. We are still crazy in love. Every day I find something else that I love about him. We are just like any other couple. We argue. We laugh. Sometimes we go to bed mad. We make up. We are normal and yet crazy. However, we stand apart too. We are willing to give everything up for this country. We are ok with separating for months at a time because we know that we are strong and nothing will change the love we share. We are proud. We are strong. We are a military family.
T H E 
Keep L i/o ving!