Last week at this time, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that in a few short days my world would be invaded by 5 students on a mission to film their senior project, to take our story and use it to change lives. What I didn't realize though was that they too would change mine. All too often we put up walls to protect ourselves from letting anything in, unfortunately for us when we do that, it also prevents us from letting things out. This week my walls are being broke down. It has been a very emotionally draining week, I am working through emotions I did not even know where there, and re-touching on those that I did. I was caught a little bit off guard today by a message from another Soldier who is currently deployed to Iraq. He went on to tell me that my husbands sacrifices are not in vain, and that wearing the uniform is not something he takes lightly. His passion was so familiar, he possessed a lot of qualities similar to Nate. He continued by paying his respect to me, and to all of those who are left behind. After having a heart to heart with a Soldier I did not know, he revealed a detail to me that would bring me tears. His girlfriend is part of the documentary team....for those of you who have been reading a while you know that I don't usually like to share our story with those who have loved ones deployed. I hate being the epitome of what could happen. 4 days ago, this would have bothered me, today, it gave me even more motivation to be as completely honest and heartfelt as I can. Knowing that Kristen would lay her own feelings aside to share the story of someone she doesn't know is nothing short of amazing. I believe that because of this, and so many other things the team and I bonded today more than I ever expected us to. Just goes to show that things aren't always what you expect. I expected a film crew, and ended up with lifelong friends.
I find it kind of ironic, for lack of a better term, that last year at this time things were looking up, and now, im not so sure where things are, or whats going to happen from here. What I do know is that there were and still are stories, and lessons all around me. On Monday after I finally made the decision to take my husband to the VA ER, I packed some of his things, and we set off on our hour drive to Gainesville. I blanked and couldn't remember exactly how to get there even though we have been there a million times, I tried to put it on my GPS and it wouldn't come up. Not really knowing what to do I just kept driving, and when I finally truly opened my eyes, I noticed that 2 of the 3 cars in front of me had purple heart plates too." What are the chances?" I wondered to myself. There are a million and one things in the direction and a million and one people in Jacksonville, but something told me to follow, I knew in my heart that there were still battle buddies to every side of my husband. Knowing where I was going calmed me enough to be able to strike a conversation with my husband, and it was one I not only never expected to be having, but one that was unexpected. He told me how he hides things, and how he has learned to put on a mask and show no emotion while in his head he is preparing for things like firefights to break out while we are at the soccer field, or how he would get me and the kids out of the car if we were hit with an IED. He wants so badly to be normal, to feel like he is not a failure, to feel something, anything really. We continued to talk as I followed those in front of me right into the parking lot of the hospital, the stickers on the back of the windshield engrained themselves in my mind. If I ever see them again, i'll thank them.As we walked into the ER they took him back immediately, and there I sat in the waiting room, waiting, it seems like i'm always waiting for something. As I began to process all the things that just happened, I had to try harder and harder to hold back the tears, until I just couldn't anymore, and I began to sob, right there in the ER waiting room, I felt like my world was crushing down on me, I closed my eyes and just let the tears fall, and when I opened them again an older gentlemen stood in front of me. He said, " I'm sorry to bother you, but my pastor is here, and I was just wondering if it would help if he came and prayed with you?" Before I could say that I would love that he had come and taken a seat beside me, placed his hand on my back and began to pray. He prayed for strength and comfort for me, and for my husband, for my children, and for my husbands medical team. He prayed for clarity for me so that I may continue to be strong in this difficult time. It was just what I needed its what I always need, to know that I am not alone, that I can do this, and more importantly that no matter what God always has a plan. I took down his number and asked that if he were back in the area that he would come pray with my husband. Shortly after we finished praying the nurse called me back to where they had taken my husband. It was a hallway with beds lined up in a row, all but one was taken, all by people who were there for similar reasons to my husband. We sat for a few hours before the last bed was taken, it was a significantly older gentlemen, brought in by his wife. She was the cutest little thing and just as sweet as can be. He had terrible Alzheimers and was so mean to his wife one minute and the next he was sweet as can be.Every once in a while our eyes would meet and she would wink at me, or give me a little smile, just a simple reminder that she knew what I was going through. She was such a trooper and stayed by his side until they took him upstairs, but not before she came over and hugged me and told me to hang in there, that she has been doing this for 45 years, on her way out she made sure to tell her husband that despite circumstances, she was not mad at him. Couples like that give me hope, hope that we can make it through this, not alone though, we need people on our side, and others need us. We have to continue to reach out and share the lessons we have been taught, I am certain they are strategic lessons planned meticulously for each of us.