I never thought in January of 2013 I would be where I am today. Its hard to know where to begin, but I guess how we met is a good place!
In January of 2013, after a 2 year long abusive relationship, I finally left my ex and wanted to surround myself with new friends so I jumped online and started to look for people around to be just friends with. I soon came across Rob’s profile. He had just learned he would so be stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. I thought he seemed pretty interesting and would have good stories to tell since he was coming from Korea. So I decided to message him and see what he was all about.
On February 1, he finally arrived to texas. We gave him a few days to get settled into his new barracks and unit before meeting. We finally got to meet in person on Feb 6. It was honestly one of the most awkward days of my life! But as awkward as it was we kept talking and ending up hanging out for at least 12 hours! Before I even left him that day, I knew i wanted to spend my life with him. Within a the next couple of days we talked about being more than just friends and decided we both really did want to be a couple. So it became “Facebook official” on February 8. Since I lived an hour away, we only saw each other on the weekends when he didn’t have CQ or any other type of extra duty. The weekend of Valentine’s day came and he completely surprised me by coming down to see me and spend the weekend at my place, when I thought he wouldn’t be able to! Although is was EXTREMELY quick things got very serious, very fast. We ended up getting pregnant that weekend. It was a shock to both of us. And although we both loved each other very much, getting pregnant was the last thing either of us wanted, so I gave him the option of sticking with me and raising out baby together or walking away before either of us fell even more in love with the other. He didn’t even have to think twice and stuck by my side. So for the next few months, we had a semi-long distance relationship while I continued to go to school and he lived on Fort Bliss. On May 16, we got married. It was one of the happiest days of my life!
Two weeks later and after I got to a point in my classes where I could transfer to a different campus, On May 31, I moved from New Mexico to Texas. Rob and I soon got into a new routine. He would get up at 0530 go out to PT, come home at 0700 and eat breakfast that I would normally have made and ready for him. He then would shower and get ready for the day while I made him lunch (if he was taking lunch that day). Then around 0830 he would leave the house for work. I cleaned, unpacked boxes, and cooked dinner until he got home at 1715. After eating and watching a few hours of TV, we would be in bed by 2200, ready to do it all over again the next day. On June 11, we went for an ultrasound and found out we would be having a girl. We were both really excited to have a princess before a prince!
We spent the months following just living life as a newly married couple and getting ready for our little girl. Rob was so excited to finally be a daddy, as much as a shock it was! We were both really scared but knew we could do it, especially if we stuck together and didn’t just give up like so many young couples today do.
Then came September 14, 2013. A day I will never forget. Unlike most military widows, I saw my husband until the minute he died. We decided to go out to a lake with three of his army buddies.
They all went into the water while I sat on the shore in the sun. They thought swimming to the other side of the lake would be fun (it was only about 200 yards where we were at). They don’t even get half way when I hear Rob say he was getting a little tired so he wanted to turn around and come back to sit with me. So him and a friend turned around and started swimming back towards me. Unfortunately, he would never make it back. He started panicking when he was about 100 feet from shore. I started yelling at him to float on his back till help could get to him. I’m guessing he either couldn’t hear me or was distraught because he kept swimming, but at this point he was swimming parallel to me and shore. His friend finally caught up to him and got him swimming the correct way, but by then it was too late. He was already started to go under the water and resurfacing. That went on for probably 10 minutes, all while he was screaming for help and I was trying to get him to turn and float. His friend (Zach) had to eventually push himself away from Rob since he kept pushing Zach under to try and keep himself afloat. I then find myself in chest deep water trying to get Rob, and hear Zach yelling at me to get back to shore and that he would get Rob back for me. I took my eyes of Rob for a split second, by the time i looked back up and Zach turned around, Rob was gone. We couldn’t see him at all under water and he wasn’t resurfacing this time. I was then forcefully pulled from the water and all I could do was scream and cry at people to do what ever it took to get my husband, the father of my daughter, my world, my heart, my everything back to me and call 911. Somebody had already called because the next thing I knew, I saw 3 park rangers rushing into the water and had the head ranger covering me in dry blankets. Soon I was brought into an ambulance to check on me and our unborn daughter. I was in the ambulance for a total of 3 hours, while they tried finding Rob, eventually calling off the search for the night. Once I refused transport and signed refusal forms, I moved from the EMT’s to our personal vehicle. At this point I knew he was gone and wouldn’t be coming back.
So after hours of waiting, at about 0115, the Army Search and rescue team arrive and started the recovery search for his body. I refused to leave until they found my husband, I guess it was because I felt as if i was leaving him behind, even though I knew he was gone. At 0200, they finally found his body at the bottom of the lake.
After the divers formally informed me they recovered his body, I went into preterm labor at only 32 weeks pregnant and was rushed to the hospital. Luckily, they were able to stop my labor.
September 14, 2013 will always be a day I remember for the rest of my life. I only had my husband for less then 9 months but they were honestly the most important and profound months of my life. I wouldn’t change a thing that happened in those few short months except his passing. Being a Gold Star Wife is a club I never wanted to be in but I’m thankful that it exists.