10 months doesn’t seem very long at all. You wonder how much can really be done in that short amount of time.
Lets start in November 2006. I was finishing up BCT&AIT. I had spent the last 9 weeks of AIT staying up all night sneaking phone calls to a tall and handsome soldier. We’d met almost a year ago and I fell hardcore for him, but timing was never right. and then he left for BCT&AIT and when he got back we only had 2 days together before I had to leave for training. Every morning I’d wake up with a text or voicemail that said “Good morning, beautiful”. He never missed a day, except when he was out in the field.
We were both home for thanksgiving and he proposed to me. I was on cloud 9. He was the man of my dreams. I was so happy to be spending the rest of my life with him.
I’d soon find out our love was a waiting game. He had to go back to Ft. Lewis and of course I couldn’t go. He came home again at Christmas time and we got married on December 28. We hadn’t even planned it. We woke up one morning and just decided to get married. He was always spontaneous. I never knew where we’d wind up or how we’d get there, and I loved that about him.
Of course in Jan. He had to go back. He had planned on getting all of our papers in order so I could move out there with him. A week later Bush sent 4000 more troops to Iraq, And his troop was called up to go. I was devastated. We learned we only had 4 months left to spend together. So i flew out in February. We had no idea where I’d stay or what we’d do but we had to be together. Lucky enough, I met my best friend Rachel and she took me in. I’m not sure if she knows how much impact she had on my life or how lucky I was to have met her.
On his down time, we went on adventures and explored all there was to explore. One weekend as soon as he got off work we went for a drive, a 6 hour drive that brought us to Long Beach, WA. It was dark out and we couldn’t see a thing, Shawn kept driving and then it felt like we were sinking so he stopped the bravada and I opened my door and nothing but water surrounded it. We soon figured out we had made it to the ocean. My first time. We spent the weekend there. flying kits and going to museums.
Then our fun came to an end. He had to deploy. it was what i thought the worst day ever. I cried for a week straight. We wrote letters back and forth and emailed. He came home in June for R&R and it was an amazing, but short, 2 weeks. I felt the need to make him do everything he loved from kayaking to miniature golf to spending time with family and friends.
When he got back to Iraq he’d bought a tracfone of some sort and we spent all day texting and calling when he wasn’t out on missions. I remember our last call, it was before a mission and he kept telling me how much he loved me and to never forget that and before hanging up he always said see you later and if I ever said good-bye he wouldn’t allow me to hang up until i changed my words. i automatically sensed something wrong but shrugged it off. We were in love and I trusted god to not be so cruel.
I didn’t get the call from him when the mission was through. I assumed he’d just went to sleep and didn’t worry too much. I went ahead and picked his mom up and we spent a wonderful morning together. We were driving back to the house when the song ” If you’re reading this” by Tim McGraw came on. We listened to the song and cried praying it would never happen to us.
Then not even an hour later, 2 men in uniform approached our door. I don’t remember much of what they said but I just kept thinking to myself they have the wrong house, or just tell me he’s MIA and you’ll find him. But that didn’t happen.
We pulled together as a family and our town pulled together for us. It took 2 weeks from the date we found out until his funeral. The town set up memorials and lined the streets when we rode through town to the cemetery. it was a beautiful day and I know he loved all the attention he got. He always wanted to be in the spot light.
His memory will always live on in my heart and in the hearts of our town. He was a wonderful man who always had a smile on his face and no matter the situation, even if there were missiles landing around him he still made sure his men were okay and happy as they could be.
I can still hear him saying “You’re so cute” when I was mad. Or how his kisses always made everything better. I can still see his smile and how he lit up a room with his stories. I will always love you Shawn David Hensel. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you still. You went from the man who stood beside me to my guardian angel. And I believe you’re the best one I’ll ever have.
“It’s never good bye its ill see you later.”