"You knew what you were getting into when you married him though."
This comment came from a friend when we were hanging out at the pool a few years ago as my family was preparing to embark on our first year long deployment. We had done several 6-8 monthers, but never one this long and I felt it was rocking me to my core. I was struggling to wrap my brain around that length of time without Patrick and I was sharing some of my fears from the kids to his safety and this was her response. It sounds kind of harsh in hindsight but that is not how she said it nor do I believe how she meant it. She knew we had been together through all of college and I was fully aware of his ambition to have a flying career in the Marine Corps. But that was it. At 19 or 22 how could I possibly know what I was "getting into" marrying this man that I had come to love through my years at Texas A&M? Our lives "together" up to that point had been characterized by football games, yell practices, dancing at The Hall, classes, lunches in the MSC, Silver Taps, Wild and Wooly Wednesdays at Double Daves, drives home on weekends, dinners at Pop's BBQ, and hanging out with friends. I knew I wanted to marry him, but at that point in my life I did not give any kind of thought on the marriage that would follow the wedding. All I knew up and to that point was that I would get a flower ceremony at my sorority house, I would have a beautiful ring to show to my friends, and I could start looking through those magazines I had longed to look at since my sister's wedding my freshman year in college. It was the next step. I was graduating, he was graduating; it's what you do. Did I foresee the months of separation? The long nights? The worry from his choice of jets? Never. Not once.
Fast forward 16 years. I have the luxury of hind sight. God's hind sight. We were put together 16 years ago by a God we both believed in but had no relationship with...not yet. He knew. He knew what it would take for us to "make it." He knew what I couldn't know 16 years ago. He knew. He knew that we would struggle. That I would struggle with this lifestyle that I should have known "what I was getting into." He knew it was not what I pictured. He knew I would come to a point I wouldn't think I could hold on. He knew. He knew I would need a relationship with His Son. He knew I would not last on my own. He knew my lonely nights and my anxious thoughts. He knew what I could not know. He knew I would come to a breaking point in this military lifestyle. He knew that it would be hard and there would come a point I would crumble. He also knew that there would be that moment when I gave my life to Him that it would be the turning point in my life, my marriage, and in my growing family. He knew the man Patrick would become. He knew that we would both come to Him and change us in ways only He could. He knew He could give me a love for my husband that would allow me to live this lifestyle. Only He knew that we would be here 16 years later. Sweet 16 years later.
Thank you Patrick for the last sweet 16 years.