If I could write a letter to that girl I was five years ago . . .
This is what my letter would say . . .
In just a few, short months you are going to meet the man of your dreams. Crazy, huh? You can now stop thinking that you’re NEVER going to get married! Lydia, that man is going to sweep you off your feet and love you beyond anything you ever imagined. That man is also a United States Marine. Once you finish squealing and dancing around the room, take a seat because I am going to tell you some things that you need to know.
Lydia, the military life is not easy. You are going to face some really rough times. You know that planner that you practically live by? Throw it out the window. Solid schedules will become an illusion to you. In the military, you have to expect the unexpected. All of your plans must be tentative because you never know when a training operation or duty night might come up. I’m telling you this now because I know you, Continue reading →
Ever since our little Joshua came along, I realized everything we did was going to be different. There is such a bigger adjustment to doing life when going from 2 to 3 as there was going from 1 to 2. This adjustment was something I was not prepared for. I never anticipated how difficult it would be, especially grocery shopping. Oy vey! My first attempts literally resulted in me pulling in the parking lot and then driving right back out, sometimes in tears. It was too overwhelming. I thought I was never going to master grocery shopping with the kiddos. But, now I think I’ve finally nailed down how to successfully shop with my multipes. (I know the word “multiples” is usually used to describe twins, triplets, etc. But in my opinion, if you have multiple children – especially ones close in age – you are a parent to multiples.)
Here are some of the things I’ve learned while trying to master the commissary with multiples: Continue reading →
At 2:00 AM on this day, one year ago, I said “see you later” to my husband and watched him step on the bus that would take him away for what seemed like forever. It would be only seven months, but he was going to Afghanistan. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I would ever get to see him again, or if he would end up coming home injured. All I knew was that God was in control, and whatever condition he came home in, I just wanted him to come home. You can read about the night of his departure here.
The deployment brought with it many challenges, but even in the lonely darkness of it all, special moments shone through and made it bearable. Just knowing that what my Marine was doing was a great and honorable thing helped push me through every day. The special moments included letters and surprises sent to me from my husband. Twice during the deployment, I was surprised with beautiful flowers. I still have the roses he had delivered to me for Valentine’s Day. I dried them out, and they now are a staple decoration in our house. Every day, I look at those roses and am reminded of the immense care my husband took to remind me of his love, even from the other side of the world.
Evan’s letters are really what kept me going. Every time I saw one of his letters in the mail, I squealed and did a little dance. His words warmed my heart, made me laugh and cry at the same time, and continually gave me hope of the day we’d be together again. I don’t think my husband would mind me sharing some of his words with you. These were letters sent over Christmas. If anything could get me through spending the holiday without my husband, it was his words of love. . . .
(Dec. 24, 2010 – from a letter when he was talking about looking through pictures of Ian and me) – “Babe, I love you so very much! I love how crazy we can get and how goofy we are! But, of course, the pics made me miss you so much. I had to fight tears for a while, but I’m okay now. . . . Last night, while sleeping in the frigid cold, I thought about pulling you close to me, under our covers, and holding you as tightly as possible. I felt warmer right away. . . .
I keep thinking about how big Ian is gonna be when I get back! I can’t wait to see pics of him. I know I said that already, but I really can’t. I keep looking at the pictures I have and babe, he is sooo adorable! I love him so very much! And I miss holding him and playing with him. But, all in God’s time. Like Psalm 66:10-12 says, ‘For you, God, tested us; You refined us as silver is refined. You lured us into a trap; You placed burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us out to abundance.’ I’ve taken so much comfort in that verse. Knowing that God will try us is kind of scary, but knowing that He will bring us through it to ABUNDANCE, now that’s encouraging! Babe, I know this deployment will be rough at times, but we have to trust God and lean hard on Him. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. You just take care of yourself and Ian and let God worry about the rest. I love you baby, more than anything on this earth and I’ll be in your arms again soon!”
(Dec. 25, 2010 – In this letter, he is reminiscing about when we met, and about the beginning of our marriage. To read our whole love story, click on the link at the top of my blog.) – “Baby, thank you. Thank you for going with Rachel to Jeremy’s house, for giving me your number, for going to the beach with me. Thank you for the 7 hr long phone conversations. . . . Thank you for agreeing to marry me! Thank you for not being mad at me for wrecking your car :(, for all the crazy memories we’ve made and pictures we’ve taken. Thank you for sticking with me when I reenlisted and changed jobs, for dealing with all the field ops and lost weekends. Thank you for being the mother of my son, for being the best mother Ian could ever ask for. Thank you for being you, for being honest and kind, for always, always being there for me. . . . Thank you for being there . . . through the tears . . . Thank you for being my best friend, for being my angel, my life and my wife. Thank you, baby. I love you!
Merry Christmas, baby. Just like the song says, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.’ I’ll be dreaming of being there with you and Ian tonight. Goodnight, my dearest angel, and Merry Christmas!”
I know it’s been a little while since my last post, but I had a very important trip to make a few days ago. My brother is deploying to Afghanistan soon, and he’s home for pre-deployment leave. (He too is a Marine.) I had been planning to make the trip to my parents to see him for a while, but thanks to the Marine Corps, when that was going to happen kept remaining up in the air. One of the most frustrating things about the military is that you can never plan. If you want to take a trip, it has to be spontaneous. If you plan for it, something is going to come up. That’s one fact I’ve had to make myself get used to. I sometimes envy people who can Continue reading →
It’s been over a month since the wonderful day I was reunited with my husband. I waited seven long months to experience the feeling other military wives told me I’d never forget. Every possible emotion raced through me during the last two weeks before Evan was scheduled to be home. I was elated, of course, but I was also terrified. During the entire deployment, I constantly had to put the life of my husband in God’s hands. It became more difficult as the end neared. My greatest fear was that we would have come so far, and then something would happen right before he was to be home. My faith was most tested in that last stretch. I remember praying nearly every hour for God to keep Evan safe and please, please bring him home to Ian and me. Another strong emotion I felt was nervousness. Yes, I was nervous. I was nervous about what life would be like after he returned. I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I’m not the same person I was before he left. He’s not the same person he was before he left. We both became stronger and more independent people. Going seven months without my husband and raising our baby alone forced me to be the decision maker and, in essence, both mommy and daddy. I had to be strong for Ian, Evan, and myself. I wanted Evan to be able to call home and know that everything was in order and that he had nothing to worry about. Did I ever cry? Oh yes, I cried many, many times. But, I dared not cry until I was alone in my room at night. I dared not cry too much on the phone with Evan. He knew I missed him, but he also needed to know that I could take care of myself and our son. The deployment changed me, and I was aware of that. My fantasy world said that everything would go back to the way it was before Evan left, but reality is a whole lot stronger than fantasy. So many things changed during the deployment. In the course of seven months, our son started crawling, talking, standing, eating solid foods, and grew four teeth. Evan got promoted. I lost 40 lbs, bought us a house and moved into it before homecoming. Our lives rapidly changed over that time, so, naturally, life reunited would be completely different. Even our love changed, but that was one very welcome change. I’ve never been more in love with this man! Separation definitely does make the love grow stronger and the hearts grow fonder.
The night of the homecoming, excitement completely took over me. I didn’t know what to do with myself! In a matter of hours, I would finally be back in the arms of my best friend. While in the frenzy of trying to get myself all prettied up, another Marine wife came over to watch Ian. I was so thankful for the brief moment of relaxation, and took advantage of it to the fullest; I took a bath. Those who have children can empathize with how amazing that small moment of peace is. You usually end up taking showers as quickly as possible, with the baby screaming and clawing at the shower curtain. I swear my son is convinced that the shower eats me up every time I close the curtain. He goes into panic mode and does everything he can possibly think of to try getting to me. If he could eat a hole through the curtain, I’m sure he would. After the most amazing bath in the world, I slipped into the outfit I had specifically picked out for the homecoming. I even had the specific makeup picked out, and then I styled my hair . . . and restyled my hair . . . and restyled my hair . . . and then restyled it once more. Okay, seriously? I could have shown up dressed in a paper bag, make-upless, frizzy hair, and Evan would have still thought I was best-looking thing he’d ever seen. But, I wanted to look good for him. He hadn’t seen me in so long, and I wanted to look stunning just for him. Finally, after a couple hours of redeciding absolutely everything, I strapped Ian in the car and headed toward base. Ian could sense my excitement and “chatted” endlessly during the entire ride.
I pulled through the main gate, and it suddenly occurred to me that I had no clue where the homecoming was being held. Oh this was going to be great. Then I started seeing signs directing to the homecoming area. I watched as obviously lost people started following other obviously lost people to the very wrong parking lot. I chuckled to myself as I drove past. Eh, someone else will help them find their way. I parked near the lot entrance (for a quick escape), and began the longest wait I’d ever experience. The moment I stepped out of the car, I became a bug feast. Of course, aside from the kitchen sink, bug spray would be the only thing I’d forget to bring. At least Ian was able to hide in the protection of his stroller. By this time, it was 8:00 pm, but the air was still ridiculously hot. Our Marines weren’t scheduled to be there for another two hours. Yet, I didn’t care. I was just way too excited. I headed towards the homecoming area, to find a large swarm of people who looked like they’d been there all day. I covered Ian’s eyes as a pair of mini-skirts, akin to just very large belts, walked by. All those girls would have needed to do was bend over a bit, and London and France would have been aired out. I’d never seen so many short, low cut, tight outfits in one place. (I understand the desire to look sexy for your man, but let’s save the bombshell clothes for at home.) To be fair, there were a lot of modestly dressed women too.
I decided to stop at a grassy area near the port-a-potties. If I had to pee, I wanted it to be a quick trip. Only problem was that my grassy knoll was downwind. So much for wearing perfume. A mixture of music played in the distance, and when I say mixture, I mean mixture. I’d never heard Toby Keith followed by Backstreet Boys before. At least it was entertaining. Evan’s best friend arrived soon after, and he took charge of Ian. Finally, at 10:00 pm, we got word that our men were in the area and were dropping their weapons off at the armory. I can’t even explain the excitement that overcame me. My husband was finally in the same location as me, and he was safe! Right at that moment, “God Bless the USA” came blaring through the speakers. Everything became eerily quiet. Tears streamed down everyone’s faces. Our men made the sacrifice, and now they’re home. Cheers exploded at the last chord of the song. Then suddenly . . . I had to pee. Talk about terrible timing! I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to go and have them arrive while I was in the port, but I also didn’t want to wet myself either. I decided to make a break for it and hope for the best. I don’t think I’d ever run or peed so fast. My speed was in vain though, because shortly after, we got word that it would be another half hour. A low moan rippled through the crowd. I started pacing in circles. I just wanted to be in his arms, for pete’s sake!
The clock ticked close to midnight when we finally got the word that the buses were on their way. I squealed in excitement and ran up to the front of the crowd. Not before long, we heard the rumble of motorcycles. Coming towards us were members of the Patriot Riders. This was incredible! An American Flag whipped through the wind as they drove by. Slowly, in the distance, the buses pulled up. My heart jumped to my throat. This was it! This was the moment! To no avail, I desperately tried to look in the windows to find what bus Evan was on. The buses all parked, and as the doors opened, people flooded the doors. So many Marines dressed the same uniform poured out the bus doors. In the chaos of it all, I couldn’t seem to find the one man I had been separated from for seven months. I run along each bus calling out Evan’s name. At the same time I heard someone else calling for an “Evan.” Duh; of course there would be more than one Evan. I then started screaming for Sgt. Eldridge. Minutes that felt like hours ticked by. Where was he?! Out of desperation, I climbed on top of an empty metal chair. Surely he couldn’t miss the crazy woman standing above everyone, screaming her lungs out. Then I saw him. At least, it looked like him. Yes, it WAS him! I leaped from the chair into his arms. Words can’t describe how good it felt to be in his arms once again. I waited seven long months to feel the strength of his arms around me, to feel his lips on mine, to know he was there . . . alive and with me again! Every wife I talked to was right. There is no other feeling that compares to that moment. I’m so blessed to have him back!