It always makes me smile when I think back to the beginning of our relationship. I met Mike by chance one summer day when I was in my junior year of high school. I was hanging out with a friend and I was supposed to meet her new boyfriend. He brought Mike along with him that day. It was not love at first sight :) I think we were both preoccupied by our everyday lives and forgot about each other after talking on the phone a few times..or at least I thought we forgot about each other. Mike began to pursue me a few months after we met and would show up at random times which I thought was cute. He wanted to catch my attention and he did.
We began dating in December of 2004 right before I left for Youth Challenge. Yes, I was a bit of a rebel in school and had other problems at home that lead me to leaving school early. However, I did complete Youth Challenge in August of 2005 at the top of my class being student of the cycle! :) We moved to Florida together the week after I graduated. Our first apartment seemed like the best thing in the world to us, it meant independence. We both worked full time jobs, I worked in the mornings and he went in to work right when I came home. It was hard on our relationship and then he lost his job. I thought he would just look for another job, yet he called me at work on April 12, 2006 to tell me that he joined the Army!!!
I was less than pleased. I grew up a military brat and I knew what it entailed. My dad was deployed nearly every year. My mom was raising us as if she was a single parent because my dad was overseas, out to the field or elsewhere. I moved schools every 3 to 4 years and had to make new friends. Although I met many great people with every journey to a new base, I never had any real stability. I did not want this. I had to decide if I was going to stick it out and be a military wife or decide this is where the road ended for us.
We were married in September of 2006 while he was still in training. There was so much going on and it was happening so fast. In late October of 2006 we found out that I was expecting our first child! That great news was shattered a week later when we were met with the horrible news that he would be deploying to Iraq in May of 2007, the month our baby was due!
We were at a loss with our emotions. I was just 19 and he was 22 when he left. I had our son nearly 3 weeks after he deployed. I was a new wife, a new mother and I was left alone to learn the ropes on my own. Just when I thought I had the handle on things, I had learned how to burp, bathe and feed my son. I felt that I was doing well and he was growing fast. Time was going by faster than I expected, Mike would be home before we knew it. 10 weeks from the day I gave birth, I got the call that Mike had been injured in an i.e.d. blast. Yep, he would be home alright.
That was actually the beginning.