Last Thursday—while people were out stressing about the grocery list for the Memorial Day weekend BBQ— Jessica was nervously alone in her apartment making sure the space is prepared for two again, the sign is posted right so he can see it when he gets home, and in the back of her mind still deciding what to wear the next day.
She's originally from North Carolina; and he grew up in Seattle. When the Marines stationed him near a small town in North Carolina, they met each other in the local mall parking lot. After he came home from a seven-month deployment, they started officially dating. Seven months after that, he proposed.
Four months later, Tim deployed again for another seven months. Just three weeks after returning from the second deployment, they said their vows together.
Four months after exchanging their rings, they moved to California.
They've been married for about three years now, and it's been seven months since his third deployment. It's not easy being a military wife, but this is the life they've chosen together.
She's just a bit younger than me, and Tim is just a bit older than me—but when I met them, I noticed these two possess a level of maturity way beyond their years, and I have so much respect for them. I'm so humbled and joyful to have met the both of them. I'm already tearing up as I write this.
(By the way, I hope you've set aside about 10 minutes, because this will be a long post today. Oh yeah, I'm rating this post PG-13, because there are contents of alcohol and kissing. So no kids allowed. Unless your parent is with you. Or legal guardian.)
Jessica didn't have this written on her car, but it sure explains the festive mood of the day:
Her husband's unit:
I love how she wears this bracelet proudly:
I remember when I came back home from Spain, all I really wanted to see was my little dog again.
So I convinced Jessica to try to bring her husky at all costs, because I know her husband will love to see their dog too.
And what better way to lighten the day, than your own little (big) best friend to greet you at the homecoming:
But this husky couldn't stop running around all over the place! Jessica told me how Akira goes to a daycare, and at the end of the day all the other dogs are tired, but Akira is still running around looking for someone to play with. The best days are when there are other huskies around to run around with her, and then Akira sleeps for the next two days.
"And what is your master's name?"
Gosh, look at that big smile:
There's that app in the iPhone called "Find My Friends." It pretty much stalks your friends via GPS (Leanna and I use on each other); so it came in handy when we were wondering where Tim was at:
At first we were told 12:30pm they would arrive. So around 12pm when our cars arrived to Camp Pendleton, we got the news that they would now arrive at 1:30pm. Jessica told me all the time changes were typical with the Marines. But we still had it pretty good, because some Marines on base told us that another unit came in two days ago, scheduled for 8pm. They didn't arrive until sometime past 10pm. So I was pretty happy that at least I wasn't waiting past my bedtime.
But I honestly didn't mind waiting at all. I've never been apart of an event like this, so I was more than glad to just hang tight and enjoy the day. And more than anything, I wanted to protect this special day for Jessica and Tim.
Jessica told me some great stories of being a military wife. My favorite was listening to her talk about this day the Marines put on for Military wives—I forget the exact name, but it was something like "Military Wives Appreciation Day." Something like that.
But Jessica couldn't remember either, so she told me, "We just call it Jane Wayne day."
Here's how it goes in a nutshell: a bunch of military wives arrive at 8am suited and dressed up in military gear; they were to experience a day-in-the-life of their husbands.
"It went until 3pm, and we did so much stuff."
Like a trip to the shooting range, military drills complete with nerf guns, water pistols, and water balloons; riding in light-armored vehicles, and even a horrendous obstacle course that afflicted Jessica with a huge bruise on her arm. She showed me a photo on her iPhone, and that thing looked like the size of a tennis ball.
"But I was really good at the shooting range!"
And she showed me another photo of a paper sheet drilled with bullet holes—all on target. I stepped back away from her a little bit.
"I have a friend in Afghanistan right now, and my buddy told me how it's every Marine's dream to have a zombie outbreak. Does your husband ever talk about zombies—"
"All the time!"
And some random survival skills pop quizzes. (e.g. "Where do you go if we're attacked?")
These are such sweet moments:
When our iPhones said 3:15pm, the families were beginning to line up. I think everyone's hearts started beating faster every minute after.
I overheard the Marines telling each other that the buses were coming around the corner any minute now, so I ran over to get shots of this:
Tim's phone ran out of battery on the way, so we had no idea which bus he was coming off of. But everything was going to be all right.
Because they eventually found each other:
Their hands just couldn't detach after all this:
You can feel everyone's joy today (I think Akira made this sign):
So many bags!
And all that time in the desert can make a man real thirsty:
Welcome back home Sergeant,
You and Jessica are a wonderful couple. Thanks for reminding me what's really important in life.
And one final photo: