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!”