I met Robby Frantz when I was a hostess at IHOP. I started receiving little notes giving me clues as to whom my secret admirer was at my hostess stand and flowers made out of napkins. Robby was always friendly and willing to help me and walked me home for a full two weeks before I learned it was him who was my secret admirer. That was the beginning of Ana and Robby. We had a relationship built on love and laughter. He did the littlest things for me to show his love such as surprise me with a bird when my parakeet passed away, or shower me with roses and love notes on my door. He had a daughter who was a baby at the time and we would often spend our time with her as our “dates”. He however, wanted to make his daughter Shannon proud and had higher goals for himself. He would go onto to join the Army where he was an infantryman. One of my happiest moments was when he asked me to marry him. Of course, the answer was obviously yes. I remember our goodbye kiss at the greyhound station and never wanting it to end. He said to me, “Anne I will love you for the rest of my life, and that’s a promise I intend to keep.” He went to Germany and then would get deployed to Iraq, but between college and making wedding plans, I kept myself busy as I awaited him coming home, with letters and phone calls as my sources of light and encouragement.
12 years ago today, June 16, 2003, was the worst day of my life. The day before I talked to Robby for 10 minutes through a satellite phone from Iraq as we talked about when he was coming home, gold jewelry he wanted to buy the ladies in his life (his mom, daughter, sisters, niece, and me), how hot it was, and that we loved each other and to lay low and talk to each other later. Later that day I received a call from his mom Kim telling me he was injured badly and would be coming home and be retired from the Army. I was scared but sighed relief he was alive. I knew he was probably missing a limb or needed some rehabilitation, and I spent the entire night looking up household accommodations and information on prosthetics. I was determined to take care of him, and we would face everything together! Then at 8am, June 17, 2003, 12 years ago came the nightmare. Robby’s mother called me to tell me two uniformed men were at her door… he had passed away during the night. I hung up, my world started spinning, and I screamed like a maniac.
The rest was a blur, but then the media started arriving to his home. The next 2 weeks were constant interviews when I just wanted to be alone. The casualty assistance officer was wonderful and he and Robby’s mom Kim allowed me to be part of the process… We shifted gears from planning a wedding ceremony to planning my soldier’s funeral. I couldn’t eat or sleep, and 3 days later his letters came back and I cried hysterically at the mailbox. His mom, stepdad, and sister and I were driven to the airport a week later so we could greet him, but this time I greeted his flag-draped casket surrounded by uniformed servicemen. We followed him to the funeral home. My fiancé was home.
The hardest thing was being a few feet away from him and not being able to hold him. I would spend the entire next day at his visitation; I refused to leave him. I was NOT going to leave my soldier. On the 30th, about 500 people attended his service. Veterans on motorcycles, several generals, tons of family & friends came, and people lined the streets and saluted. The service was beautiful. The pastor spoke beautifully, the choir was great. I remembered scribbling a poem to him as something moved me to during the service on random scraps of paper. His step grandmother watched as I did it. They asked who wanted to say some words. I stood up and walked to the podium. It was the longest walk I had to do. I said goodbye to him with a poem at the service. I remember as we exited the service the Casualty Assistance Officer escorting me with my arm interlocked with his–looking back the poor guy was actually holding me up as I walked. Then came his burial as we lay white roses on his casket. Everyone filed to give his family and I their condolences but all I saw was a blur and couldn’t comprehend a single thing anyone said.
After the reception, I slept for days and then began the hell. At least I had Kim & Vincent and his family to lean on. I think about how normal my life would be if he was alive and if we were married and how many kids would we have, etc. Instead it was pain that led to mental break downs and feeling like I didn’t want to live. I cried every night for almost 8 months. I remember laying in bed almost a week, not showering, not eating, and my three friends carrying me to the bathtub, undressing me, and washing my hair as I rested my head on the edge of the bathtub while another friend sat on my counter and my other friend sat on the closed toilet seat saying, “Anne! You can’t live like this! Robby would not want this” while my other friend ran shampoo in my hair. I was at my lowest. Alcoholism hit after that. But one day, when I was at home crying and screaming, I screamed “Robby! Why can’t you be here?!?” And at that moment (I SWEAR on everything on this– EVERYTHING), the pages on the magazine on my coffee table visibly and dramatically… Fluttered. And the couch settled loud. I was home alone, the AC was off, and there sure as hell wasn’t a reason for my couch to settle. An overwhelming peace came over me. He was there all along. I stood up and wiped my tears and said “NO MORE!” And to this day, I carry him with me. 12 years hasn’t minimized my feelings for him, but my way of honoring him is to do what he would want me to do: live life to the fullest.
And that my friends is exactly what I intend to do. Until I see him again, and I know I will. It’s not goodbye- it’s see you on the other side. I carry the greatest gift, however: he said “Anne, I will love you until the day I die. And that’s a promise I intend to keep.”
And he did. He kept that promise ♥.
Categories: Moving Forward