My story has its own uniqueness. I had been through so much that I was ready for a change so I decided after my 26th birthday that I was going to join the AF Reserves. My dad was a retired MSgt and I always wanted to be a part of what he was a part of. I had made some bad decisions growing up which prevented me from joining when I originally wanted to. Because I was a single mom with 2 kids my only option without giving my rights up to my children was the Reserves so that is what I did. On April 11th 2007 I stood in front of the US Flag in my recruiters office and was sworn in. This all took place in Providence, RI. Well come to find out later down the road that on the same day in Jacksonville, FL the same thing was happening with my husband (which I had no clue who he was at the time). I decided to go to bootcamp in July because my daughter would be out of school and it wouldn’t be as stress for my mom because she was the designated care taker.
On July 24th 2007 I got on a plane and little did I know was about to meet the man of my dreams. I never believed in love at first sight or it will happen when you least expect it none of that.
When I seen Stephon for the first time it was like a little kid seeing all their gifts under the tree at Christmas time. I was flawed! How did God create such a beautiful person.
Obviously in boot camp your time is limited to when are can talk if you can at all but I was on the laundry crew and he was the utility closet . He would always come and visit me and talk for a short time because we never wanted to get caught. He was more afraid then I was which was kinda cute. The whole time I was there I felt like a kid again. One did I asked one of the other guys in his flight how old he was. When he ever said 18 I almost passed out. In that very moment I remember my moms last words to me “Kristen don’t come home married now!!!” We both knew that we had fallen for each other but neither one of us would have ever admitted it.
We graduated boot camp and went off to tech school. He was suppose to come with me to Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX, but at the last minute he changed his job to Firefighter and went to San Angelo, TX to Goodfellow AFB. They were about 3 1/2 hrs apart from each other. Once we were allowed to leave the base for the weekends we would alternate back and forth renting cars to go and spend the weekends together. I will never forget the 1st time that I got to see him. I ran up to him and gave him the biggest hug. We never could do that in boot camp so it felt so good to finally be able to show emotion. I swear we must have held onto each other for a good 5 minutes. Neither one of us could get the smiles off our faces. Fridays were the best days because we knew would we see each other and Sundays were the worst because we had to go back to the base without each other. We finally admitted our love for each other and became a couple shortly there after. The rest is really history….
In tech school he found out that his first duty station was going to be over seas to Mildenhall AFB in England. We were devastated because we knew that I wasn’t going to be able to join him for many reasons. One we were not married, two I had children that were not his that I would have needed permission from my state to relocate them and 3 there were no reserve units that I could have joined over there. My only option would have been to get out and we both agreed that, that was not an option after all the hard work I put in. We decided that we would visit back and forth every 6 months.
January 08 he reported and he was miserable. All we both talked about was wanting to be with each other and be a family. I couldn’t wait to get my plane ticket for my first visit in June. We talked every day several times and even did IChat through the computer. He had crazy hours at the fire dept so we didn’t get to see each other everyday but on his down time he would always call. We were so happy.. We started to talk about marriage.
When I flew there in June he proposed to me. When never set a date. We were kind of stressing it because we knew that he was in the bucket to deploy soon and we wanted to do it before then. Stephon never liked to be around a huge crowd and never liked to be the center of attention so deciding on a wedding arrangement was quite the task. I wanted to have the big wedding dress and walk down an isle and the whole nine. Being in front of people like that made him nervous. We talked it over and decided that the Justice of the peace was the way to go with immediate family only. So in November when he came home for leave we decided that we were going to get married. He arranged everything while I was at work. He called me on my lunch break and told me I found a guy to do it for $75 and he is going to do it on the 23rd. I said babe that is your birthday are you sure you want to do it then? He was like of course this way I can never forget our anniversary (ladies you know most men will forget too (Unintentionally of course)) I laughed and said ok whatever you want.
We got married and it was the best day ever. I realized that day that i didn’t need the big fancy wedding because everything I ever needed was right in front of me.
He wanted kids so bad even before we got married and we always said we needed to wait because he wanted to be there for it all. Well before he left that month I took a test and sure enough I was pregnant. He was scared but excited at the same time. I couldn’t believe it! But I was happy too.. He took both my kids in like as if they were his own.
July of 09 Stephon came home for the birth of our son Elijah Stephon. He was amazing, he was so scared of passing out in the labor room but the whole time he was calm and just helped me through the whole process. Even one of the nurses said that he was truly amazing that I was lucky. He was so proud. The second he seen his little head a tear came to his eyes. The first thing he said was I can’t believe it mama I am a daddy!!! Then he went on to say how much respect he had for women after he experienced birth LOL HE was such a character.. Always smiling and joking and would give the shirt off his back if you needed it. So kind and giving. Always wanted to help someone in need.
He was so sad when he had to return back to England for 6 more months without us. In August we found out that he was going to PCS to Eglin AFB in Shalimar FL. We, well I was excited for that. The sunshine state and a chance to experience new things as a family.
We started to get everything together and we got a lawyer to fight to get my children located to a different state. That is a story in itself. To make a long one short it was quite the ordeal. Her father was not cooperating and was fighting us tooth and nail. It put strain on our relationship because now my husband is away from his son. We started to argue a little bit before he came home in January. But we knew that it was because of the distance and the legal issues and we would always make up shortly there after.
Stephon came home to the states in Jan of 10 and he was home for approx a month. In Feb we had a trip planned to Aruba because one of my friends was getting married on the island. That week was the best week of our lives we had a blast and couldn’t believe we were there. The day after we came home he had to fly out to his new base without us again because the legal issues were still not settled.
The legal issues were getting the best of the both of us.. Mothers day I drove down to see him and that was the last time that I seen him.
Month after month would pass and we were still fighting to get my daughter to FL. Finally in July of 10 we agreed on a visitation plan and the 1st week in August I was set to move me and the kids to be with him.
July 29th 10 was our sons first birthday and he fought for leave to come home to spend it with him. July 21st he called me to tell me that he had been with someone else and that he was so sorry. I couldn’t believe it.. We were so close to being a family and had beaten so many odds and now he is calling me to tell me this needless to say on my way to work at about 820 in the morning. I immediately started to cry and lash out saying hurtful mean things. I hung up the phone telling him that I couldn’t do this right now. He kept telling me that he had to get this off his chest. He finally let me hang up and started to text me saying that he genuinely loves and cares about me. I proceeded to say that love doesn’t do this and he said that he deserves everything times 10.
I texted him the whole day with no response I called every 5 mins. Finally I text him to say it was about our son because I knew he wouldn’t ignore that. Still no response.
I was getting extremely nervous.. I checked our bank account to see when the last time he spent money thinking that maybe he went to the liquor store to drink because he felt bad about what he did. It had been 2 days since any activity. THen I checked out cell phone bill thinking I could call any of the last numbers he spoke too. No answers and I was the last number he called that day. I was frantic… I called the fire dept to see if they could give me any numbers of people that he hung with so I could call them to check on him. Did get that ether. They told me to call back the next day because that is when he was due in for work again. I kept calling all night every 2 mins just to hear voice mail right away. I left message after message crying saying I was worried and to please call me.. Nothing…
I called the station the next morning at 0700 because that is when he was due in and that is when everything just crumbled.. He didn’t show up for work… I knew that something was wrong because he was always 15-20 mins early for every shift even if he was drinking with buddies the day before..
I decided at that point that I would call the county sheriff because I was just too worried and I needed to make sure he was ok. I called to request a welfare check. They took all my information and within 15 mins I got a call sayin that his car was in the driveway and all the doors were locked. I asked if they could break down the door because obviously he was in there and he was hurt. They said that there was a castle law in FL that allowed the home owner to protect his home from break ins and if he had a weapon then he could use it so they would need permission from a superior to enter the home. 2 hrs go by and I am waiting to hear finally I call on my break and the dispatch woman tells me that the investigator will need to call me in 15 mins because he is busy. I said investigator is there something that you are not telling me? She said she doesn’t know anything and to wait for the call…
15 mins later I received the phone call from the county detective telling me that it appeared my husband committed suicide. :( I was devastated. I fell to my knees and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital in the pysch ward.
My husband left a letter that addressed everyone in his family, my son, his child hood friends and his military family. He said that he never liked flaws and things always had to be right. He felt like a failure and that he wasn’t loved. He made it clear that he let people down.
Everyone was shocked. NO one would have ever expected this. My husband was an amazing man, husband, son, father and friend. He graduated honors from high school, he was 3rd in his state for the wrestling championships, he was promoted to SrA before he was suppose to by getting Airman below the Zone. He was just amazing all around. Anyone that was having trouble he always made it a point to try and help out. His family always came first.
No one really knows to this day what his reasons were and the one thing that hurts the most is that he is the only one that knows.
I too, have had blame from others and myself. If I was only there, if I only did more to try an help. Maybe if I went and visited him on the weekends then everything would be ok. How about the fact that I totally was mean to him on our last conversation. If I just told him I loved him maybe he would have thought about it and not followed through.
I have so many mixed emotions that it is not even funny, But the one that sits with me the most is sad for not being able to help or make him feel like he could have came to me with anything and we could have gotten through. Anger is huge too for my son who will never be able to know what an amazing man his dad was for himself. He will only know through everyone else’s memories.
I want to believe that my husband is in a better place and out of pain but it is so hard. I never expected to live another day without him and I never knew how much I loved and needed him until the day he wasn’t there any more.
My life will never be the same with out him. Days feel like weeks, weeks feel like months and months feel like years. I still feel that sleep is my dream life and being awake is the true nightmare.
There are so many things that I want to accomplish now for other women and men so they don’t have to live like me or anyone else that has to experience this type of pain. I truly feel that if they knew the damage that they done after the fact that they would think twice about their actions. No one intentionally sets out to hurt their loved ones. They are in a different mind set.
To end this story of mine I just wanted to say that I know time will heal all wounds and I know that I will never forget my husband or the love we shared but he will always be in my heart and I will take my last breath loving him for all the amazing things that he taught me.
Thank you for letting me share my story