I met my husband Bob in 2004. I was sitting home one evening working on a paper for college and chatting with friends on yahoo messenger when a stranger messaged me. He asked who I was was and where I was from. We were both from Nebraska and from there we became pen pals while he was on his first deployment to Kuwait. We met for the first time when he was on home on R&R from that deployment in August 2004. I remember we went to Applebee’s for lunch and he looked so nervous. We ate lunch, had a good conversation and went to a movie later that night as friends. I remember saying good bye to him not knowing when I would see him again, but praying for his safety. A couple of days after our first meeting he returned to Kuwait.
When he returned from Kuwait we hung out a few more times as friends before he quickly volunteered for his second deployment with his older brother to Iraq. We remained friends and pen pals through his second deployment as well.
Over the next few years Bob volunteered for his third deployment and was sent to Iraq. We dated off and on a few times but with the deployments and lack of maturity things always seemed to fall apart. After our last break up I had been so angry I told him to never contact me again and I truly never thought I would hear from him again. Luckily I was wrong. nine long months passed without either one of us hearing form each other when Bob sent me message on myspace. I knew immediately that I was not over him, and never would be. We reconciled within a couple of months and were officially back together by January of 2009.
Our relationship progressed quickly and within a few months we were living together and were engaged on my birthday October 31st of the same year. I had never been happier in my whole life. We married on May 29th 2010. It was perfect and he looked so happy and handsome in his uniform, I felt like the luckiest girl alive and was looking forward to spending every moment of the res tof my life with him.
While we were planning out wedding Bob’s unit was given orders to deploy in January of 2011 to Afghanistan. We had originally planned on waiting to start a family until Bob returned fro his deployment an we were more financially stable and had a house. That all changed one night when I had a case of the “What if’s”. We decided right then that we would just leave things up to God and see what would happen. Little did I know how much tis decision would affect the rest of my life.Three short weeks later at the beginning of August we learned we were pregnant. have never seen my husband more thrilled. He was so excited to start our family and to become a dad.
Over the next four months my pregnancy progressed and we prepared for our first deployment as a married couple. Bob left at the beginning of January 2011. I remember him holding my belly and holding back tears while I sobbed and said goodbye to him, praying that he would make it back in time for the birth of our child who was due on April 29th.
The next couple of months went by slowly. Bob’s unti was sent to Afghanistan and broken up all over the country. He finally made it to his actual base at the beginning of March. It was a very small base with less than 10 people at it, but he had the internet and luckily we were able to talk everyday online.
Shortly after arriving on base Bob got sick. He had dysentery and began having problems with his joints. For the next month he often mentioned how he was in a lot of pain and on crutches to get around. I also noticed that whenever we skyped he looked as though he was losing weight. He told me he had seen the medic and that they said it was just a bug.
Toward the middle of April I developed pre-eclampsia and had to be induced. We emergency red cross called my husband and it took them 6 long days to get him home. Luckily I had a wonderful doctor who monitored me for as long as possible and waited a few days to induce me. I went into be induced on a Wednesday evening and my pitocin was started thursday morning. I was sure he would not be there in time, however luckily our child was stubborn and took its sweet time making progress. My mother-in-law picked my husband up form the airport while I was at the hospital. She said he was so excited to hear that I was still in labor and had not had the baby yet and they raced to get him to y room.
When Bob came into my room and didn’t recognize him. My previously healthy and energetic husband had lost 40lbs and looked gaunt. He could barely walk and when he did he winced in pain. I could not believe what I was seeing. He sat next to me the whole night holding my hand and through the 2 hours of labor the next morning before our daughter was finally delivered by c-section the next morning. Bob beamed form ear to ear upon holding our daughter in the operating room. We remained at the hospital for the next four days, the nurses not only checking on my health but my husbands as well.
When we returned to our home Bob learned that he had been given extended leave and would be hoe for a month with our daughter and I. We tried to settled into being a family, but that proved to be more difficult than we had planned. Bob could barely walk, let alone carry our daughter or change her diapers. He was in so much pain that I was actually in less pain four day after a c-section than he was and did everything around the house and took care of my husband and our daughter.
Bob saw a base doctor after I was released form the hospital who ran a battery of tests before referring him to a civillian rheumatologist. The rheumatologist started my husband on an anti-inflammatory and steroids to hopefully get him back to normal diagnosing my husband with reactie arthritis. Over the next couple of weeks the medication seemed to slowly be working. My husband regained his appetite and some of his strength. We went to the mall, saw friends, walked around the zoo, and spent time together as a family.
Toward the end of his leave the rheumatologist was not convinced that Bob was physically ready to return to duty and spoke with the base doctors. It was decided that the next Monday he would go to Ft. Bragg to be tested to see if he was ready to return to duty.
Friday May 13th started like any other day. We awoke with the baby, watched some TV, visited some friends and their new baby and had dinner with my uncle. We came home that night and watched some TV while eating ice cream. At 11pm I got ready for bed. My husband and I had been sleeping in shifts due to our newborn daughters erratic sleeping patterns. Bob said that he would take the first shift and would wake me up when he was tired and wanted to switch. I got him his medicine and the glass of chocolate milk that he has asked for. I kissed him goodnight, told him I loved him and went to bed. I had no way of knowing that would be the last time I would see my husband alive.
Around 2:10 in the morning I heard our daughter crying. I waited a moment to see if she would stop crying when Bob picked her up, but the crying didn’t stop. I crawled out of bed and went into the living room. To this day the next image is forever ingrained in my mind. Bob was laying face down on the floor with his head propped up on our daughters bassinet. He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, there was a pool of vomit on the floor beneath him. In a state of shock I called 911 and proceeded to perform CPR on my husbands lifeless body until the paramedics arrived. In the next few minutes I scrambled to call my mother-in-law who lived two hours away and my own mother who lived in town to tell them what had happened. After he was taken out of the living room and raced to the hospital two police officers questioned me before I was able to get myself and my daughter dressed and race to the hospital. The drive tears streamed down my face as I prayed over and over again “please don’t take my husband, i need him”. I arrived at the hospital to find my mom and my best friend waiting. I was taken to a family room where a Chaplain was sitting and I knew he was gone. I felt s though all of the air had been sucked out of my lungs as I sobbed while looking at our daughter who was just shy of being one month old. The next hour was torture while I waited for Bob’s mother arrived. When she finally walked in the door and looked at me with fear i her eyes all I could do was whisper, “He’s gone”.
The next few days were a blur. We planned the funeral and buried my husband. The real torture was in the next month, waiting for the autopsy reports to come back with some type of answers as to why my healthy 26 year old husband was taken from us so suddenly. When the results finally cam ein they offered little solace. He died or a heart arrhythmia, but beyond that the coroner was stumped. He sent the results of to the military medical examiner for additional help.
Now we sit and wait. I wait for answers as to why at 26 years old I am a widow and a single mother. Why was my husband, soul mate, and best friend taken from me. Why will I spend the next 50 years alone at night. I try to look into the future and wonder what I will tell my daughter when she asks me what is a daddy and where is hers. I try to imagine taking her to his grave and how I will ever help her to understand what a wonderful man her dad was and how much he loved her. I wonder how many days, months, years, will it take before I don’t cry myself to sleep every night. I wonder is it possible to be happy when part of you is gone. I do all of these things as I sit and wait until I can see him again one day.