When I look back on my life Ian was always there. I don’t remember a time when I did not know him. Growing up in a small town gives you that benefit I suppose. Life has been completely altered by knowing that he won’t be calling eventually from a scratchy satellite phone or that I won’t be getting one of his famous 2 liner e-mails. Ian and I went to school together all the way through high school. I was in the class above him and we hung out every now and then with mutual friends (later we confessed that during high school I thought he was annoying and he thought I was a rude snob).We began working at the same place during high school and eventually started going to parties together or just hanging out as friends. We were forever trying to play matchmaker for each other which was ironic. Time went by and relationships in our lives came and went but we always were there for each other. We didn’t realize how much we meant to each other until we were apart from each other. I had gone on vacation to California and Ian to Hawaii when we both had this realization. Years later we realized we had begun to fall “in like” at the same time. We dated for 2 years with a few break ups in between…as anyone who knew us could tell you, we never had a problem with communication! We always told each other what we thought and didn’t hold back. I guess that’s what being friends first allows you to do.
Ian decided to join the Marine Corps and much to my dismay left for bootcamp on March 14th, 2005. The separation that Marine Corps boot camp provided made our bond even stronger. I would stalk the mailman every day waiting for my precious letter from my best friend. It was in one of these letters that he asked me to marry him. We were married on July 30, 2005 on my 21st birthday in a garden overlooking the Pacific in La Jolla, California. I never felt nervous or thought twice about marrying him like some people do. I knew all along that he was it for me.
We settled into the lifestyle of many military couples…being apart for months at a time. He was deployed once a year, every year of our marriage. We tried to squeeze in as much time as possible between deployments but even when he was away I almost felt like I could hear what he was thinking because we were so close. He returned from his 4th deployment in Jan 2010 and made the decision when he got home to crossdeck to another infantry unit that was deploying to Afghanistan. I didn’t want him to go but I knew he would be miserable if he didn’t. I knew how good of a Marine he was and he felt like he needed to use his skills to best of his ability. He always said “if I don’t go it’s like being on varsity and sitting on the bench!” He had a humorous way of putting things into perspective.
During his time before he left for Afghanistan we decided to try to have a baby. It had been a constant disagreement between us for months because I wanted him to be there for every minute of my pregnancy and when our child was born. He argued that if we didn’t have a child now we may never have a child due to the realities of war. I learned I was pregnant in April. We were both happy and we were purchasing our first home in California. It was a beautiful mission style home with a courtyard in the middle of it. I was proud of the life we were building together, we had come so far.
I kept having bad feelings about his upcoming deployment and would randomly have crying sessions no matter where we were: at the gym, in the car, at restaurants, you name it. I just didn’t want him to go. I wanted to keep him home and listen to his snoring every night
We found out we were going to have a baby girl and decided to name her Claire. He was so in love with that little girl and he didn’t even know her yet. He frequently would get down on his knees, hold my belly and kiss it and tell her that he loved her. That is what amazed me about him: his ability to be a disciplined and hard leader to his squad of Marines but yet his tenderness that he displayed when he did this or cuddled with our kitten.
Deployment day came and went, I tried to get into a routine like I had done with all the other deployments and stay busy with work, friends and taking care of things around the house. This time I just couldn’t get there though. I talked to him on October 3rd and he mentioned that he would not be able to call me very much but that I must never doubt how much he loved me. We joked about how he had finally gotten to take a shower and how excited he was about that. The phone cut out eventually but I stayed on line until it disconnected saying his name over and over again. It was almost as if that was a sign that he was already gone from my life. I had set up my e-mail to let me know alerts in the press about his infantry unit. Bad mistake. Within 2 weeks there had been 9 casualties. I was sick over it. I went to work crying almost every morning knowing that there was nothing I could do to protect the man who meant everything to me. So on October 16 when I looked through the windows of our French doors and saw 2 solemn men in dress uniform I just knew Ian was #10. He was leading his squad through a canal when he stepped on a pressure plate IED. He was the only casualty from the blast which is what he would have wanted. I learned that he had asked about how his men were doing while he was still conscious.
The next few months were a blur. It is still hard to imagine that this man who was larger than life, who I shared everything with, is gone. I can’t understand how I prayed to God every day for his safety and he still died. I still dream of him, I still think about him, I still can picture all the different facial expressions he made and hear his voice and I still wonder why him? I miss watching TV with him in bed before we went to sleep. I miss kissing him goodbye in the morning before we both left for work. I wish I could’ve told him while he was still alive that that was the favorite part of my day. I miss him constantly telling me that he loved me whenever he felt the need to. I miss looking at him watching football even and how excited he used get over it. I miss singing in the car with him. I miss laughing with him so hard that my stomach hurt. I miss making big breakfasts with him on Sunday mornings. I miss going on walks with him and our dog. I miss talking about our day together. I miss watching him enjoy a cold beer after a hard day of work. I miss the father I never got to see him become. I miss him not getting off the bus with his fellow Marines this spring.
As most widows and grieving people can probably relate, it doesn’t seem as if the sun should shine anymore when you lose someone. It doesn’t seem as if there should be television broadcasts or newspapers still written when your whole world is gone. Sometimes I get so sad looking at couples wondering if they know how much they should relish every day together? Wondering if they know that it doesn’t matter if the house is clean you should just sit down and enjoy each others company. Wondering if they know if he forgets to take the trash out or doesn’t hear what you say it’s not the end of the world? LOL!
Our daughter was born on January 11th, 2011. She is a beautiful happy baby who looks like her daddy. I am so thankful that I have her. She keeps me focused on the here and now, but sometimes like tonight after she has fallen asleep I dwell in his absence. I talk to him, smell his cologne, look at his handsome face in pictures, tell him I am so sorry I was not there with him on the helicopter when he died, tell him how I will always love him. I know he is still with me and that he will continue to help me throughout life in any way a guardian angel can. I just cannot wait for the day when I see his face again. I will never forget you Ian and I will never doubt how much you loved me.