Saturday, June 27, 2015

Alive and Well

Today was another Poker Run Day..  Josh's family does an amazing job organizing the run and regardless of the monsoon outside they still had a nice turnout.  I look forward to seeing everyone again and catching up.  However, it also brings me a huge amount of anxiety.  Bittersweet is a good way to describe it.

I love that everyone can still come together to honor and remember Josh.  That there is still support from a community that was shaken after his loss.  It's an amazing thing to see.

Besides that fact that I had a horrible headache.. the day always seems to be a blur.  Hard to process.  I guess that's my minds way of toughing up to get through another day.  Not to knock on anyone, but a majority of the American population doesn't understand.  They don't understand the sacrifice to keep our country free.  They don't understand the pain left behind with families of fallen service members.  They don't understand that it NEVER goes away.  Really.. I mean never. 

It's easy for people to say "move on" or "get over it." Sureeeeee.  I'll get right on that.  I remember thinking for the longest time, "Surely it's got to get better."  Well.. I'm here to tell you that I am here 5 years later and I still think about it every. single. day.  I'm alive and well and content with my life, but I can assure you that I am not "over it."

If I could delete the months of May through September off of the calendar that would be fabulous.  I spend a lot of my time trying to push those feelings away, but there are days when you just can't.  Like Memorial Day, Poker Run, September 2nd, Veterans Day, February's Homecoming..... Catching my drift?

Which brings me to this..

I remember the days when I thought I couldn't possibly go on.  When I didn't feel like I had an ounce of strength to make it one more day.  When I felt like all my life purpose was gone because everything I had imagined was taken.

I survived.  

I'm here.. Living it each day.  For whatever reason this was my chosen path and I'm slowly getting better at accepting that.  It's hard to do.  We are so driven in our lives to ask "why" and to have an answer to everything.  I guess there are times when we really need to have a little faith and know that we have that strength to go on.  

Good days and bad (which still exist).. I'm still here to tell the story.  It will be 5 years this September.. 5!  That doesn't even seem remotely possible.  It's gone fast and slow at the same time.  I've come to the conclusion that there is no good way to describe in until you live it.

My thoughts and so scattered when I write here, but I felt like today was a good day to check in and say that I'm alive.. and well.

Much love <3

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Time Heals All"

..or so they say.

I have been the queen of mental breakdowns lately.  Almost 4 years later I know that I can't change the hand that I've been dealt, but for some reason that hasn't made it any easier.  I can't get past the fact that the life I had planned is no more.  I can't get over how much things have changed. 

After I started to lose it I figured I might as well dig in and I started going through some things that I have in my room.  Boot camp letters being one of them.  The papers are starting to turn colors and I can't believe that was 7 years ago.  I pulled one out of the box and started to read it..

Nice choice, right?  If that doesn't smash your heart into a million pieces.  I'm so angry.  Angry that he didn't get to have the life he wanted.  The chance to be married and have a family.  He would have been such a good dad.  I was thinking today about how he wanted to stay in after the deployment. He never wanted anything else in life except to be a Marine.  That was it.

I know in my heart if he was going to go that is exactly how he would have wanted it.  I wasn't ready for that.  I'm sure no one ever will be ready for something like this to happen to them.  But why him?  Or why me? At 21 and 20 we were still kids.  Kids with big dreams.  And before I knew it I was given a life that I had never planned on having.  One that stays with me every single day.  It drives me crazy that people have their opinions on my life.  How they don't understand that I can't just "get over it."  No.  I'll never get over it.  Whether I like it or not this is a part of my life and who I am.  I can't change that.  Do people honestly think that's what I want?! I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy.  No one should have to feel this way.

I'm really struggling with where my life is headed.  What I'm going to do.  Having to pick yourself up and move on knowing what's left behind.  Sometimes this still feels like a bad nightmare and I'm ready for it to be over..

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Picking up the pieces..

Most people would be out enjoying their last night of vacation.  Life of a war widow? Spending the last hour and a half in tears.

I usually know when to prepare myself.  Or when I feel my breakdowns coming on with a vengeance.  Try as I might to hold it all together behind a pretty smile, sometimes it all just falls apart.  Completely falls apart.  Like sobbing, uncontrollable tears and asking myself why a thousand times.  Really.. July through September can go straight to you know where.

As you may have noticed a lot of things have been changing in my life.  I'm on my own little path trying to figure out how I can get through this.  "Accommodate" it instead of trying to overcome it.  Coming up on 4 years I feel like I have almost relapsed on everything.  The pain and memories are flooding back. Oh and I feel like I have made zero steps forward.

The pain.. That same pain is still as unbearable as it was on September 2nd, 2010. I miss him so much.  There are so many times I find myself wondering where we would be today.  Should have been married by now.   Maybe a family.  Who knows.  I wish so many times that he was here with me to experience things in life.  Those times when I find myself witnessing something amazing and wishing he could be right there with me.  I'm sure he is.  Just not the way I want him to be.

You see.. I met Josh when I was 15.  Sure things were never perfect with us, but are they ever?  We loved each other so much and had so many plans only to end up in heartache.  I have to wonder nowadays if I will ever have the things that I wanted with him.  Will I ever have that same love again?  Will I ever look at someone like I looked at him? Am I going to walk down the aisle and think this isn't how it was supposed to be?  Honestly this whole thing really threw a big ole wrench into my life.

At this point I need to figure out where I am headed.  I know full well I will never be 100% again.  I was hoping that by now I would have picked up a lot more of the pieces.  So far that's not going well.  There is just something about this time of year that drags me down. Really though.. What do you do when the love of your life and all of your plans disappear right before your eyes?  How do you get over that?  How do you move on?

Tomorrow is a new day.  Things will keep moving on in life and it will only be a matter of time until I'm back in this spot again.  In the mean time I need to find my way back to those closest to Josh.  They understand.  And with a little help from my friends.. Here's to hoping that things will start looking up <3  


Monday, July 28, 2014

The truth about being a "War Widow"

So in the last few weeks I've come to realize a lot of things about this life.

1. Pretending like it never happened.  You read that right.  For the last 3 years I've completely devoted my time trying to pretend like my heart wasn't ripped out and smashed into a million pieces.  Note to self.. it will come back and bite you in the butt one day.

2. You feel like you're never going to be whole again.  When I say a piece of myself died that day that's no joke.  It's totally unfair that at the age of 20 I lost him and ever since then I've never felt the same.  Even if I pretended like my whole life was fab.

3. You feel like you will never be happy again.  I was 20 years old.  I had my life planned.  In about .00000001 seconds it was ripped away from me.  I don't know that I ever want to have my "happily ever after" anymore.  Who knew that you would have to try so hard to be happy. It doesn't come as easy as it used to.

4. As much as people try to understand.. they never will.  There's no way to understand this life unless you go through it.  It's like a bad mind game that you can't get out of.  There are so many ups and downs and so many things that people just don't understand about how you are feeling.

5. You will NEVER get over it.  Try as you might it's not leaving.  That will be a part of my life until the day that I die.  I think about it every. single. day.  It's obvious that there is practically a stamp on my forehead.  It's like the little cloud that Olaf has over his head except it's a sad one.

We're definitely a special kind.  I don't think I will ever know why God chose this life for me.  What I've learned lately is I need some time to myself to figure out how to get through this.  There's gotta be a light somewhere.

How do you just let go?  How do you move on?  How do you put someone else through what you're going through?  I knew this wasn't going away, but I don't think I ever pictured it going quite like this.  I miss him.  So much.  When I hear a song or see a picture I smile, and then I want to cry.  I haven't picked up all of those pieces yet.. And at this rate it's going to take some time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

There's something about July...

Something about this week in July weighs heavy on my heart.  I don't know if it's the last time I saw him.. Or just remembering those last few days we had together.  It breaks your heart little by little as the days pass again.  Especially with the addition of Timehop on my phone I am constantly reminded of what used to be.

A few weeks ago I went to the Poker Run that is held each July in Josh's honor.  I look around at his family and friends and notice how much has changed since then.  Most of the guys in his unit are out now.  Some in college, some working, some just married, others divorced.  Everything has changed.  People have moved forward in their lives.  However, there's something that tied us all together.

Four years ago this week, I don't think any of us knew what we were about to endure.  The Marines, the wives and girlfriends left behind or even friends and family.  There's something about that whole deployment that looms over my head like a little cloud.  It changed us all forever.  No matter where everyone goes in life there is still that little piece in everyone's heart.

I often wonder how my life could have played out differently.  I've seen so many couples and Marine's deal with the hardships of returning after a difficult deployment.  You don't realize what they really put themselves through until you see it with your own eyes.  Really such a small portion of America is involved with the military that many don't notice how it changes them forever.  Even after a deployment to Iraq, Josh was different, and looking back now... That deployment was cake.  Just looking at the Marine's that Josh served with you know what they carry inside of them and in others you can see the struggle in their eyes.  It really was a life changing things and I only see part of their story.

I left Jacksonville, North Carolina 4 years ago tomorrow not knowing what the future would bring.  I spent the night before crying over and over again knowing what the next morning meant for me.  I still remember pulling into the airport and watching him drive away with tears rolling down my face.  At the time I told myself through the tears "It's only 7 months.. I can do this again."  Little did I know it was going to be a lifetime.

I still have my days.. some really bad ones.  When I wonder why my life has taken this path and how it feels so not fair sometimes.  At the end of the day.. everything happens for a reason.  Whatever that reason will be.  As I continue on in life there's a part of it I will never forget.  I guess that's part of the deal in forming who you are.

As for me.. things are going well.  Each day is another one that I have survived and I'm living my life again.  I really need to come back here more.. it's been a while <3

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Times are changing

You know.. It's been really weird passing that three year mark. Three years ago seems like an eternity, but only 3 years. I was just on Facebook scrolling through my news feed and it's so weird. I remember looking back on that deployment. Remembering how we all were and what we all went through. Now I look and most of those guys are out starting their lives, other couples I knew have gone their own ways, people are starting families.

After Josh died I knew my life wouldn't ever be the same. We weren't going to have a life or a family together anymore. I'm happy for everyone, but sometimes that still kinda hurts. Everyone else is moving on and each day I still have that pain. I'm not alone and my life isn't terrible, but I still have to live with it everyday.

Regardless of where anyone goes or what they do in life.. We are all still connected by those years and deployments with 2/9. Everyone isn't as close as they used to be, but if you  ever needed something they would be right there   It's crazy.. The military life. It's one of those love hate relationships, but one thing people wouldn't change is the  people they have met along the way.

So yeah.. That's my random little thought of the day.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Year 3

As always, I wake up to a beautiful morning on September 2.  Quiet and peaceful.

3 years ago at 7:48 am my life was drastically changed forever. The world that I had known and the plans that I had for the future came crashing down around me. In seconds. 

I remember September 1 very well. I was awakened at 5 am by Josh calling to let me know he was okay. I remember him telling me what he had been up to and that they had captured some Taliban that day. I talked to him about school and I was about to start my 3rd day of classes. We talked for an hour before he had to go. I told him I loved him and to be careful. Little did I know that was the last time I would hear his voice. 

That day I was busy from school and work. Exhausted from being up, but I didn't mind. That evening I spoke with some friends about another marine who was injured. I also found out about my friend Ashleigh's husband Cody and I remember thinking I don't know what I would do. When I went to bed and slept through that night, I had no idea that Josh was struggling to survive thousands of miles away. 

I woke up the morning of September 2nd to my phone. Missing the first call from Josh's Dad. Sometimes I wish I never would have called back. I remember him telling me Josh was killed that morning. And I remember saying back no you're lying another 10 times. He wasn't lying. 

I got off the phone and I sat up in my bed. I remember not even knowing what to do. It was like being frozen in time. I didn't know whether to run, to cry, to scream. The thoughts in my head were moving so fast. The thoughts that this was the last deployment, I'm supposed to have a life with him, I, supposed to get married. It was all gone in a matter of seconds and there was not one thing I could do about it. 

I ran down the steps and hit the floor. My life was about to be most military wives/girlfriends worst nightmare. 

That day is such a fog. I remember sitting in his parents living room listening to the CACO and thinking this cannot be real. I held onto a bear he had given me hoping that it would be a joke. He promised he would be back. 

At this point looking back- he and I both knew this deployment wouldn't turn out right. He told me one night months before his uncle who had recently passed came to him and said to watch your back. He didn't think he was coming home, but only ever told me that when he had no control over his words. I remember one night in particular and yelling at him while I was crying wondering how he could ever say such a thing. Maybe then is when I should have listened so I would have known what he wanted for me. 

I remember watching him tell his family goodbye in their kitchen before we left for Camp Lejeune. He cried. He hardly ever cried. It broke my heart. I was happy to have him to myself a few extra days, but I knew what waited at the end. The trip down was so much fun filled with love and laughter. My trip back, alone, was a lot of sadness and tears. I just knew. Even though I had hoped and prayed that it wouldn't happen it did. 

Going through the viewings and funeral was so unbelievably difficult but heartwarming. There were so many amazing people around. It reminded me how amazing he was and what he meant to people. And he was home. With me. Just not how I had ever imagine. I don't remember as much anymore about those days. I guess it's my bodies way of taking away some pain. 

Even after those days, life wasn't the same. I tried to pretend like it didn't happen by drowning myself in school and work. I cried every single day for months. I still cry. My heart was broken so much I didn't even know where to start to get it back. Each day is a struggle and I always think about him. Wondering what his life would be like. He deserved so many things- a family, dream job, children. But he gave all of those things up for this country. 

When we were in high school and started dating he always wanted to be a Marine. I remember the arguments with his dad about joining. After he turned 18 it was a done deal. It's what he wanted in life and even though it kills me he wouldn't have wanted to go out any other way. I always knew he had that in him. I always said "don't be the hero- do what you have to do and come home."  But.. He was the hero. He had that about him. He laid his life on the line for the guys around him without thinking twice about it. That's who he was and what he believed in. And for that he will always be remembered.

I hope people realize what it takes to have the freedoms we do today. I live with a reminder every single day of the price. My life was taken away from me to fight the bigger cause and there's nothing I can do about it. 

I'm going to take a time out from this one and come back later. It's a lot to take in today..