Jeremy and I had a true “whirlwind romance”. I met him on May 1st 2007. It was love at first bite. LOL. I was the delivery girl and he had a craving for some late night wings. He asked me for my phone number and we were inseparable ever since. We got engaged on June 3rd, 2007 and we got married on June 29th! Yes for all you math genius’ that is only 7 1/2 weeks from the day we met….and three days after my 20th birthday. In true military fashion he was preparing to deploy and left four weeks after we were wed. I saw him off at the beach and felt really ill. It was my first deployment as a marine wife so I assumed it was just the emotions of the day. Later that night I still was feeling sick so I took a test. The next morning Jeremy called to tell me that he had made it to the ship, he was on a MEU, and I told him that WE WERE PREGNANT!!!! Whew! We certainly didn’t waste any time huh? From then on we got through the first deployment, had our precious daughter Brooke-Lynn in April 2008 and sent him off on his second deployment…this time to Afghanistan. This deployment was so much different. This time I wasn’t alone. I had a very young child to look after. Most people dream of partying it up on their 21st birthday. By mine, I had been married for a year and had a three month old. There was no partying here. I was sending my husband, the father of my child, my best friend off to an unknown but seemingly dangerous place. A place where concern for his life was warranted.
The next seven months were filled with joy, tears, laughter, pain, loneliness, hard work and worry. Maintaining a new marriage and family is hard work but through in a continent in between and becomes a full time job….with lots of overtime up late nights just wondering where your husband is and if he is safe. Jeremy finally came home in May of 2009. I was so happy to have him back on US soil. I was so relieved to not worry every night. During the next few months we re-enlisted in the USMC and we made a joint decision to move into a non-combat unit where, at least for the next four years, we would be guaranteed to have him home…safe and sound. Or so I thought.
On November 10th, 2009 I got the most sobering wake up call. Jeremy and I were on a date night. We had rented movies, made popcorn, bought chocolate. It was going to be a great night in…just spending time together. Like most married couples we had gotten in a stupid argument about…the lawn…when he just snapped. He started acting very irrational. Screaming, crying….just not acting like himself at all. I decided to leave for a little bit to give him to cool off. I left for about 45 minutes and then came back to try and talk this out. When I came back in he was even more upset. He was just really upset and couldn’t really articulate anything. I decided that I should leave again and go stay with my friend until the morning…so that we didn’t fight anymore or say or do things that we would regret later. When I said that I thought we needed space for the evening to calm down he just went blank. He punched through the living room wall…which again wasn’t like him at all. Then without a single work he turned around and walked out onto our back patio, the door was already open. Then next sound I heard was the shotgun being pumped back. At that point I turned around and ran out the front door. As I was exiting the house I heard a sound like Jeremy had tripped over the patio furniture. I immediately called the police when I got outside and told them that my husband was acting strange and was armed. The next several hours were a blur. The cops arrived a while after the call and it took another hour or so before they started to make their way up to the house. The cop came back out to the street where I was standing and said “Yep, so he’s dead”. Those words started the most haunting days of my life. From then on it felt like I was living a movie. Like I was out of my body just watching. My family and friends rushed to my side in the middle of the night. A few hours after the police investigation and “crime scene” stuff were over several men in dress uniforms met with me. “On behalf of a grateful nation…”. This could not be happening. He wasn’t at war. He was at home. He was supposed to be safe now. They ran through all the paperwork and the series of events that were about to begin. All I could think is how can everyone be talking like this is no big deal? Who is going to explain to my 18 month old daughter where her daddy went? We were supposed to spend our first Christmas together this year….and now it will never happen. That next week was just a blur. A series of ceremonies and people and tears. It was a cloud of emotions. The worst time of my life. I was a 22 year old military widow.
The next few months were hard. I struggled to fit into civilian life. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I used to be the kind of person who had to be with other people to make me happy. I hated being alone. But after this…I couldn’t find anywhere I belonged. That was my biggest struggle. I didn’t fit in with people my age…I was a widow…their biggest drama is who date that day. I was single mom now. Everything was such a big adjustment but I had to be strong and carry on. I didn’t have time to fall apart. Time to grieve. I had a little girl that depended on me. It wouldn’t be fair for her to lose both parents. She was my driving force and the thing that got me up every day and gave me the strength to keep going. Over a year and a half later I am healing. I am able to see the blessings I have been given and where God is leading me and my daughter. God has given me such amazing comfort through this tragedy and has given me the wisdom to see His will and hand in it all. I never would’ve imagined that I would go through something like this….especially so early in my life. I didn’t think I would be able to live after this. It shouldn’t be possible to keep going…to keep breathing. But through my trial I was reminded that God never gives us anything we can’t handle…and what a great thought. That God knew that I would be strong enough to endure this trial…and hopefully help others that have gone through the same. So today I am praising God. He has been my strength and comfort and I am so thankful that He knows all. He knew that I needed Jeremy for that time in my life. He knew I would need Brooke-Lynn to push me through my greatest trial and He gave me peace in knowing that my life is not over, but just beginning. Now it’s up to me…to DO SOMETHING!