Monday, February 22, 2010

Airport Rendezvous Weekend Celebration~Part 1

This past weekend we celebrated our 5th "Airport Rendezvous Weekend" together. The first weekend took place in Feb 2005. Bivins and I began our relationship with lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, get the idea...lots of phone conversations. Enough to make my family highly irritated about the cell phone permanently glued to my ear when I wasn't student teaching, at work, or sleeping. We first began talking somewhere around the end of September/the beginning of October when my lovely friend Abbie gave some Marine my phone number. (It wasn't Dave, but the other Marine didn't want to call me so Dave did.) The rest as they say is history...but I guess I'll share it in case you haven't heard the story. The idea of "Airport Rendezvous Weekend" was hatched as a plan for me to fly to DC and spend the weekend hanging out with Bivins to see how things would go in person. We chose President's Day weekend b/c he would have an extra day off to spend with me. Also, it gave me time to save some of my substituting money to spend during the weekend. I purchased a plane ticket, spent several hours choosing a hotel I could afford in a decent part of town (went with the Hilton Garden Inn), and then counted down the days until I would get to fly to DC. Finally the day of my flight arrived and I nervously waited to board the plane that would take me to what I knew would be a life changing weekend(I left somewhere around 5ish I think)...I just wasn't sure if it would be good or bad until I got there. It was the first time I had flown by myself and I am a very nervous traveler. I spent the first half of the flight wondering if I had forgotten anything important and the second half nervous about how the weekend would go.

I imagined our meeting hundreds of times, but nothing I imagined compared to how it actually occurred. (I arrived somewhere between 7-8pm.) My plane finally landed at Dulles International Airport after what felt like hours, but it was really probably only 45 minutes or so. I not so patiently waited to get off the plane. Once I got off the plane I followed to signs to baggage claim. If you haven't had the pleasure of a trip to Dulles then you may not know that finding baggage claim at Dulles is a bit like a treasure hunt. I turned down one hallway only to be met with another sign, and another, and another, and another. I'm not sure how many twists and turns I made before I finally came to baggage claim. (By this point my feet hurt b/c in an effort to impress I put on black dress boots with my outfit. They were fun to take off and put back on at security checkpoints too.) I began the hunt for the Marine in the pink dress shirt, which actually didn't take long to find. I think I spotted him a minute or so before he spotted me. I gave him a big hug and at that very second knew that he was something special. We grabbed my suitcase and hopped into another Marine's truck so that he could drive us to our hotel. I was so nervous in the truck I didn't talk hardly at all. I had spent months talking about anything and everything with Bivins, but I couldn't manage more than a few words when I met him face to face. We made it to the hotel-one of the nicest I've ever stayed in-and dropped off my bags so we could go get dinner. Bivins had a present for me since we had missed Valentine's Day the previous week. He had purchased a lovely white gold heart shaped necklace with 3 little diamond chips. It was beautiful. He chose something that suited me perfectly. (I wore it almost every day after that. I even wore it on our wedding day.) The rest of the weekend I only remember in bits and pieces. I know we visited a bookstore and had fun walking the aisles browsing books, we visited the barracks because I wanted to see them so I knew where to imagine him when I was talking to him on the phone, we went to the mall (where I would later work after we were married), we ate out, we found a cute turtle ring we didn't buy, I met a few friends Combs & Martin (and probably a few others I don't remember), and I know he called my mom and sisters (woke the sisters up) to ask if he could marry me. (Mom said he had to ask the sisters-who didn't care they just wanted to sleep.) So from that weekend on we were unofficially officially engaged. I received my temporary turtle engagement ring in the mail about a week later and I wore it everyday. Still have it, but I don't wear it much because it doesn't fit my right hand very well. I flew home Monday afternoon a woman who knew that she had found the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with (or his life depending on how it all plays out.) We both had a weekend we'll never forget. So every year we celebrate the anniversary of that wonderful weekend that changed our lives forever. (We both agree it might be more important to us than our wedding anniversary. Even though our wedding made our bond official for the government and God, that first weekend linked us together forever in our hearts and minds.)

So now that you know why the weekend is so very special to us I'll tell you a little bit about how we spent our weekend this year. We decided it was time to get away for a bit. We haven't really been anywhere on a vacation in the last year or so. We've been home to Ohio, but that is a teensy bit different than a weekend spent relaxing. My weekend actually begins on Thursday night when we decided to exchange presents. Bivins knew he was getting a Dremel Multi-Max because I had to call him from Home Depot and verify I was purchasing the correct power tool. So I told him he could go ahead and have it since he knew what it was, but I was saving his card for the weekend. He said I was going to get my present now too since he had his. (He had been trying to give it to me for at least a week or so at this point and I kept telling him it wasn't time yet.) He goes to the gun safe to get it. I'm thinking he purchased something to maybe go with the gun he bought me for Christmas. He comes back and is standing behind where I am seated on the couch and says "close your eyes and put out your hands." I open them to find a Zales box in my hands. I'm thinking maybe he purchased me another necklace, but nope. I opened the box to fin a diamond anniversary band inside. I smiled great big! I was so surprised. I've had a simple solitaire and plain wedding band. I didn't really need anything else at the time. I thought maybe someday down the road I would think about adding something to it, but hadn't thought about it recently. I love my new band. It is so pretty and a very nice compliment to my diamond solitaire. I didn't want anything that would detract from it. Bivins does a wonderful job picking out jewelry for the Wizzel. After I got over the shock and surprise from the the lovely gift I finished packing for the weekend. I had to work all day Friday so I left Bivins with a to do list that included taking Zeke and Zeus to his parents house for the weekend. Grandma Bonnie loves to babysit the fur babies and Zeke loves going to visit, while Zeus spends at least the first day he is there hiding under a bed. (Bless his heart he's just a little special.) All day spent at work waiting to leave for our weekend was similar to the anticipation of waiting to board the plane. I've never been so happy to be done with work for the day. Then I drove home through the end of rush hour traffic. Yucky. I made it home and threw my make-up, toothbrush, and straightener in my bag. I stopped next door to say hello to the Friday Night Ladies and pick up my package from my momma. She did a beautiful picture frame for us. I love it! We put our bags in the car and we were off to spend the weekend in Chattanooga...

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Mission

I started this mission quite some time ago. I even blogged about it and suggested you join me in my mission. It was a mission to purchase, read, and change after reading Beth Moore's latest book "So Long Insecurity, You've Been a Bad Friend to Us." I told you I was going to purchase my copy from amazon. Well, I was...until the laptop came down with a virus and the desktop pc hadn't been put together. Several days after the laptop became infected I finally put the desktop pc together and it was up and running, but running verrrrrryyyyy slowly compared to the laptop. So by the time I checked facebook, read my e-mail, checked my bank account balance, and checked to see if anyone had blogged anything interesting I was tired of waiting on the slooooowww pc and logged off. I finally remembered I needed a book at the beginning of this week. I place my order on amazon and decided to only purchase one book and pay the shipping. Two days later my inbox was lacking a notice saying my items had shipped. I logged onto amazon to check the status of my order to find that my order was scheduled to deliver between Feb 24th and March 8th. What? Are you kidding me? Apparently orders are being delayed on some items due to the winter storms. So I cancelled my order. I decided I would make the trek to a real bookstore and pay the few extra dollars to get the book in hand much sooner. Saturday night I was finally able to make it to the bookstore to begin the journey of completing this mission.

This is the point in the story where my mission changes a little bit. I am still very excited about my Beth Moore book, but have yet to open the cover. Once I enter a bookstore time stops. I must wander all of the aisles browsing the titles looking for something that catches my eye. If it were a library I would take home a stack of books, but since I must pay for the books I limit myself to only 1 or 2 and wait until a book "speaks" to me. I found several books that left footprints on my mind and heart, footprints that I may revisit some day when I have a larger book budget. Ever since I married a crazy, tender-hearted, warrior-like Marine I have enjoyed reading stories about Marines and their brotherhood. (Ok, truth be told I have always loved reading historical fiction and more recently historical nonfiction as well.) So after locating my Beth Moore book right inside the doorway and selecting a copy for myself, I wandered over to the military/history section of my wonderland called a bookstore. I picked up several different selections and pondered spending my $16+ on them, but continued searching until I found a title I couldn't put down, "Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives" written by Jim Sheeler. I read the synopsis on the back of the book and knew I would like it, but just like watching the movie Taking Chance this experience was going to be like poking a bruise just to see if it would hurt. I turned to the center of the book and looked at the 24 picture pages. I quietly read the captions with a sad heart until I came to a picture and caption that made tears roll down my face in the middle of the bookstore. At that moment I knew I couldn't put this book back on the shelf. I simply must read this story...

I couldn't wait to get home to begin reading this story. It is a story that touches upon a variety of aspects in a deceased warrior's journey home to a final resting place. (This is an issue near and dear to my heart since my own Marine played a role in countless other grieving Marine families' lives during his time in DC.) The picture that made tears roll down my face was of Katherine Cathey, wife of Marine Second Lieutenant James J. Cathey, and his casket ( facebook users view original post if you'd like to follow the hyperlink to see the photo). Katherine Cathey refused to leave his side the night before his funeral saying she wanted to spend one last night sleeping by his side. The Marines there to guard him during the night located an air mattress, some sheets, and pillows so that she could spend the night with him. She fell asleep listening to a playlist on her laptop of songs they would have listened to at the formal wedding they would never have. There were several parts of the book that made more tears quietly roll down my cheeks, but several times I had to smile and laugh to myself. I finally read about the Marines locating and preparing this makeshift bed for Katherine. It is so like Marines it makes me smile. It reads as follows:

In the mortuary the night before Jim Cathey's funeral, two Marines stood near the casket, unfurling sheets on a makeshift bed.

"Make it looks nice, dude. Make it look nice," one of them said.

"Who are you, Martha Stewart?" the other one shot back with a grin.

Another looked at the blanket.

"If you're pregnant, do you get hot or cold?"

One of the Marines who has a child of his own looked at the bed.

"She's going to need another pillow," he said. "Since she's pregnant, she'll need to put a pillow between her legs."

Then they saw the car lights outside and took their positions.

One of the Marines asked Katherine if she wanted them to stand guard over Jim throughout the night. She said yes because she felt like Jim would have wanted them to do so.

The next chapter goes on to give you glimpses into the lives of these particular Marines, personal friends of Jim's, who came to bring a brother home and take care of his wife left behind and their unborn child. It is what brothers do in times of need.

Many of the reviews state that this book should be required reading for every American. I agree wholeheartedly, yet I know that not every American would truly appreciate the value of the lives in this book. Some Americans just don't get the fact that there are still Marines and soldiers dying in war and their families are left to navigate life without them. Even though Marines have left Iraq, there are still Marines in harms way in places like Afghanistan. (A country many of us didn't even know how to spell its name 10 years ago.) I still say my prayers for Marines in harms way often and include their families in those prayers too. I finally finished reading this book tonight and I just couldn't go to sleep until I blogged out my thoughts.

I am slowly finding my niche in life beyond my time as the wife of an active duty Marine. It has been a much harder adjustment than I ever thought it might be. It has tested me, my Marine, and even our marriage at times. Slowly we are each finding things that bring us those moments of happiness. Each of us rushes home to share stories about our run ins with other Marines or Marine family members. Those quick moments that remind us that our Marine family is still around, just not as easily accessed like it was during active duty. Those moments bring a smile to each of our faces. We also have taken newer Marines and their family members under our wings as well. A few weeks ago we took a brand new Marine and his lovely girl out to dinner while he was home on leave after completing boot camp. It was a truly fun night and we enjoyed welcoming them to the Marine Corps family. We look forward to supporting each of them in their journey through life during active duty. We know another young man who has made the decision to enter the Corps and look forward to supporting him as well. Our mission continues...