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..