we met in 2006.
i remember our first valentine's day, in 2007. you were training, and i didn't even expect to get to talk to you. you sent a text telling me happy valentine's day from somewhere in the middle of nowhere in california. by then, i knew you'd be the one i married.
you went to iraq. i said i'd write you every day. i did. you were surprised. i sent you packages - lots of cookies and other goodies. i got very good at filling out customs forms and packing up flat rate boxes.
you became a christian in iraq, and (finally) you knew i'd be the one you married.
and so that december, we got married in hawaii where you were stationed.
because i was on a scholarship and wanted to finish college (for the second time) as soon as possible, i came back home while you stayed there. our first five months of marriage were spent apart.
you came home on may 25, 2008. i remember the date without looking because i counted down to it so many times. i missed you terribly, and i couldn't wait to actually get to live life with you.
we lived in an apartment and paid our bills with part time jobs and the GI bill. we had date nights in because we couldn't always afford to go out. i remember eating deer chili by candlelight, lots of scrabble games, and reading the chronicles of narnia together on the couch.
we had a hard first year of adjustments and lessons. it wasn't like a lot of couples' first years of marriage, but we learned a lot and grew a lot by the grace of God.
the next year, i graduated, and i got a teaching job, and we decided to start a family.
a few months later, we bought a three-bedroom house. we moved in on our second anniversary and barely had time to put up a christmas tree, but we still did.
two months after that, we found out i had stage IV endometriosis, which meant we might never have a family. several months after that, we saw a specialist who told us that we wouldn't have a baby if we did it your way. we did it anyway. you gave me injections of lupron and then progesterone so that i wouldn't have to give them to myself.
nine months after that, i watched you become a daddy. i was terrified of getting a c-section but you were there holding my hand the whole time. those days in the hospital are some of my fondest memories, all three of us cuddled in the hospital bed watching tv and just being a family.
fourteen months after that, i watched you become a daddy again. you held my hand and prayed so much, and we had to choose a c-section again after 29 hours of contractions and pitocin.
soon after that, you graduated college, and then got a job as a police officer. we found out in the same day that you got your job and that i had miscarried our third baby. what a day that was - happy, but so, so sad. i still miss our number three, but i know it was part of God's plan for us.
i had to take leave from my job because you would be leaving for twelve weeks, home only on weekends. it was a long, lonely, and busy twelve weeks without you. we all missed you, but what you were doing let me be home with the boys instead of leaving them every day, and i was, and am, so thankful for that. i found out i was pregnant again the second week you were gone.
you read to and played with and cuddled with the boys as much as you could when you were home. you were, and are, a good daddy.
you graduated and came home, and i was so glad. like those five months we spent apart at the beginning, i was ready to start living life with you again, and i was ready for the boys to get to spend more time with you too.
the fall was a whirlwind. i was pregnant, the boys were, and are, crazy people, and you had lots of overtime, but we made it. suddenly it was december and i watched you become a daddy for the third time. the nurses stamped his footprint on your hand and you were so proud of it. i was medicated but i remember you trying to get a good photo of it. you might be a good daddy, but you are a terrible photographer. thankfully it showed up in this picture.
you aren't a fan of the family photo process because it is so crazy, but you always help me get the boys ready and hold everyone still. we even manage not to fight anymore when we do pictures, by the grace of God. and we are always glad to have the pictures when we are done, even though it can be tiring.
in 2006 i didn't know what my story would be, i just knew i wanted it to be with you.
God willing, there will be much more to this story of ours.
i love you.
happy valentine's day.