I entitled our story that because that is the song we had chosen for our first dance, “Faithfully” by Journey. It’s a funny summary of how we had been back and forth long distance for so long and it isn’t easy, but we will be forever each others.
I lost my fiancée, CPT Michael J. Medders on September 24, 2008 after serving 11 of the 14 months his troops would serve. He had 3 months to go, just got transferred to a “safer position” that kept him behind a desk more and out on missions less. I began to worry less, as we were coming down the home stretch of this horrible deployment. Of course I was unaware of the recon troop he was a part of for more serious missions. September 24 he was called out to help with a mission with his commander, and another vehicle with some more of his troops. They found the men they were looking for. Mike got there first, and one of the detainees had a suicide vest. Some men were injured, Mike was the only one killed that night.
Mike and I met through mutual friends. Mike was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and one of my best friends from high school was engaged (at the time) to someone in Mike’s troop. I went down for a visit, and Katie and Adam put together plans for a dinner. Unfortunately the dinner was only married couples and me so Adam was asking people that day if they wanted to come over for dinner. He ran into Mike, asked him if he’d like to join, Mike’s roommates were both out in the field, so he said sure. I remember exactly what he was wearing from head to toe that night. He came in carrying a case of Natty Light and a bottle of cheap white wine. I made the comment that we could probably afford a better beer- who drinks natty light!? Are we in college?! I remember when he turned around and smiled at me, I though, oh hmmm this could be interesting! We spent that night eating dinner, drinking, playing card games and laughing. I remember laughing and laughing at Mike, something that immediately attracted me to him. He spent that night on the futon with me, but more or less because he passed out on top of me and I had a hell of a time trying to move him. Don’t get the wrong impression, he wasn’t a crazy drunk, but he always had a good time. The next morning he apologized up and down about smushing me, which was cute. The 4 of us went to dinner that night, but they had to show me on base and the bradleys and the tanks and the motor pool and all this cool stuff before dinner. We had dinner at the Olive Garden, went and rented the movie Click, and then slept on the futon that night. Talking to Mike felt like I had known him forever, like our souls just met their counterpart. We’d talk for a while and sleep for a while and talk for a while and sleep for a while. We wanted to know everything about each other. He drove me to the airport the next day and I knew he was planning to come home (also strange- his family lives about 20 min from where I was living at the time) for Thanksgiving. I said in the car, “Give me a call when you’re home I would love to see you” or something, I was nervous and I wasn’t sure if he was as into it as I was. He just looked at me and said “Stace, I think I’ll call you before that” haha I said good! So he dropped me off and we texted/called/emailed ever since. We both say that neither of us were looking to meet anyone, but as soon as we met each other, we were done looking. We were complete fits for each other.
Mike was the most amazing person. He was my best friend. I wanted to spend every single day for the rest of my life with him. We helped each other through the long deployment as best we could. He was a caring, sensitive, motivational, optimistic person. He was a hard worker and he was completely genuine. I have heard from everyone who worked with him that he is one of the most amazing leaders- he has skills that can’t be taught. He wanted to do good things for the world, which is why he joined the army in college in the first place. He had dreams and aspirations and his life was cut dramatically short. I’m 24. He was 25.
We were planning our wedding for June 20, 2009. We had almost everything planned; we’d been engaged since April 2007. I had my dress, I had my bridesmaid dresses, I had my flowers, I had all the flowers. We had the hotels and the church and the reception hall. We booked our honeymoon when he was home on R&R in July. I picked out the music for the ceremony. Invitations were next, I was working on save the dates the day he got killed. We were going to send them out in our Christmas cards. Obviously my life has changed quite dramatically. But we take it one day at a time, and we just keep going. There aren’t any other options at this point.
I keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for those of you who do the same!