It’s been 26 days since I got that life changing phone call and 23 days since I have been by Taylor’s bedside. But there hasn’t been a day that has gone by where I questioned if this whole thing is really happening… If this is the new reality…
While Taylor was deployed we would talked nonstop about how excited we were to be together again. We would talk about all the things we had planned for the future. What trips we were going to take. Where we were going to live once he was out of the Navy. How excited we were to be around family and friends. What jobs he would like to do beyond EOD. My job and how I was going to make it big in the real estate world, open my own firm, buy rental properties, and manage them. How we wanted to get married but not have kids right away because we wanted to live an adventurous, spontaneous, fun lifestyle before starting a family. We wanted to go hiking and camping. We wanted to sky dive (we’ve tried a handful of times but it never worked out with the weather). We wanted to scuba dive off a tropical island. We wanted to bungee jump off a bridge over some water. We wanted to go on this motorcycle ride through Africa. We had our whole lives planned out. But I guess the joke is on us because you can’t plan life. Life just happens.
I cannot tell you how many times I dreamt about the day Taylor came home from deployment. I knew I would be back in Virginia probably about a week before he got home due to all the delays and schedule changes that come hand-in-hand with the military. I would do that girlie thing: work my booty off in the gym, get my hair done, make sure I’m nice and tan, buy a new dress, and be waiting for his plane to land. Oh my God, the actually seeing him for the first time…I replayed it so many times in my head that it’s hard for me to separate that memory from reality. I imagined him walking through the doors and us both walking/jogging towards each other. We would both go for the hug; he would squeeze me so tight, and pick me off the floor. A wave of goose bumps always came over me when I thought about just being in his arms again; feeling his strong arms wrapped around my body. Having that feeling that everything in life made sense again. My face would be nestled into his neck and his long locks he told me so much about. I was so excited to see how his beard and hair looked after 7 months. After a long hug he would let me feet touch the ground again. I would look up, into his eyes, and know the last 7 months that I spent without my best friend by my side was worth it. Both of my hands would be on his face, just so I knew this moment was real, feeling his rugged beard in-between my fingers. Giving him a kiss and knowing that I could kiss him whenever I wanted again. These are the thoughts that got me through the tough days of deployment; knowing there was a light at the end of the tunnel, deployment was the hard part, and it would get better (or so I thought). Oh and I was so excited for the cute coming home pictures. I love pictures, scrapbooking, and filling the house with frames. I was so excited to have these pictures. I had already planned where I was going to put them in the house and what the layout of my scrapbook would be like (some black/white, others in color.)
I am not exaggerating when I say I thought about every detail of this day. Taylor and I love our nachos. That was the one thing he requested when he got home from deployment; homemade, oven backed nachos! He wanted the works: ground beef, chicken, cheese, sautéed onion, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, guacamole, sour cream, and jalapenos…the works! I was searching for Mexican themed plates and margarita cups to make it extra authentic.
Taylor and I had been emailing back and forth through deployment. I had been keeping all the emails in chronological order with who wrote each one and what the date was. I had been copy and pasting them into word. We were up to about 50 pages of solid type. We like to talk… I was going to have it bind together in book format as a surprise welcome home gift, so 20 years down the road we could look back on our journey. We not only planned our life’s future but the immediate future too. There was so much life ahead of us. We had so many ideas and so much planned.
This life we had planned came crashing down on the morning of May 3, 2012 when I got the call about Taylor. We had just put a two story deck on the house and I had been trying to find a company to replace a piece of the siding. It was a 757 area code so I figured it was the siding company. I answered to find out it was one of Taylor’s teammates. He told me there was an accident. I still didn’t think twice about Taylor being hurt. I figure it was something else and the team was trying to keep all the girlfriends and wives informed. Then the unthinkable was said. He told me it was Taylor that was hurt. He told me he lost both of his legs. I instantly screamed to the point where I didn’t hear him say his other injuries. It was when he told me the second time around that I learned he lost both legs and his arms. I couldn’t breathe. Thank God one of my friends was right there with me. He told me he needed to talk to her. I couldn’t control my breathing, I was shaking uncontrollably, and ended up throwing up. I kept trying to tell myself it’s ok; it’s going to be ok but at that moment I knew everything wasn’t ok and it wasn’t going to be ok. Taylor and I planned so much and none of this was part of the plan. All I could think was… why did this is happened? Why this is happening? Why would something like this happen? What good can come from this? How can this be happening to us? What about our life that we planned? If God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, then why does he think I can handle this? Why would he do this? Why? I don’t know the answers to any of these question among a million others that have flooded my mind since the moment I had heard about Taylor’s injuries (that moment itself hasn’t been able to leave me mind since it happen. It keeps replaying in my head and every time I hope for it to change; for the words to be different.) Although, I don’t know the answers to so many of these questions, I do know that Taylor loved his job. There are risked involved, but he absolutely loved it. We just never thought the risks would affect us in such a big way. We briefly talked about the “what ifs” but definitely not in-depth. You never think it will happen to you.
Taylor has been in the Navy for about 5 years. Over the years we have had to sacrifice our time together, having to work around the Navy’s ever-changing schedule, and getting shuffled around to different areas in the US (this wasn’t too much of a sacrifice for me; it just meant a new vacation place for me to spend a long weekend). These are all manageable sacrifices; annoying at times but manageable. I don’t think I understood the magnitude of what every military service men is putting on the line until I, myself, had some skin in the game. I pray that no one else has to go through something like this; service man or family alike. I pray that everyone takes a minute to realize the amount of respect and gratitude we owe each and every one associated with the military. I am talking about those over there fighting, pregnant wives waiting at home, parents of service men, children waiting for their mom/dad to come home, tuck them into bed, and give them a good night kiss, those standing in line waiting to sign up for the branch of their choice, and those who have serviced.
Memorial Day has taken on a new meaning this year for me. I pray for all those who are overseas, those who have been injured, and those we have lost in order to keep our country safe and freedom alive. Thank you for all who recognize and appreciate the sacrifices the armed forces and their families go through not just today but on a daily basis.