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Thursday, December 30, 2010


I don't think it is fair that the best year of my life and the worst year of my life are all lumped in to one.

Obviously, it is the best year. I married Matt, my best friend and my soulmate. In two days, we will be married for one year. I have never had a higher honor than being his wife. I am a good wife, too. He is a wonderful husband. Never a doubt. He always held me, and I him, in love, peace, protection, trust. Never will anyone ever be able to take that away from us. Ever.

Obviously, it is the worst year. Matt, my husband, best friend and my soulmate was taken away from me. Our dreams were taken away from us. Our plans, our hopes, our future. All of this was ripped away in a split second. God needed him more than me. He needed him more than his family and his friends. It doesn't seem possible.

The first seven weeks of 2010 were amazing. He was HERE. We got to call each other Husband and Wife. I got to see his smile and he got to see mine. We laughed and teased. We were with our friends and family. We got to plan for our future, even if it was to be delayed a year. We got to talk more about our hopes and our dreams and what we wanted to do. We got to hug and kiss and just love each other. We got to hold hands, go to Home Depot, get ice cream, watch movies, cuddle, build stuff, and just show each other how much we cared for and loved each other. He was here. He was safe. He was with me, and nothing could have ever happened to him. I was with him, and safe, and nothing could have ever happened to me. He was HERE.

Then, he was taken away for a war that he had his own opinions about. It was a job. He would have rathered been here, protecting us state-side. He would have rathered been here with me, and with our family and our friends. He tried to get in to protect us state-side. He always wanted to protect, but he felt that we had higher needs to protect ourselves first.

He called. We wrote. We chatted. We had many means of communication, considering he was at war. But it just isn't the same as if he were here. But, we still got to plan our lives, one step at a time, from the day he came home, first for R&R, and then for good. We planned a honeymoon, Harley rides, and family outings and trips. For example, his sister's wedding. He couldn't wait to meet his newest niece, or see our other nieces and nephews. Our siblings and parents, our cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents. We were going to go and see friends in AL and SC and NY. We planned to travel East to meet some friends who are now stationed in Korea. Those were all short term. We also had long term plans in there. Babies, a home, whether or not he was going to stay in the Army. Babies, Toddlers, Teenagers, Grandkids. Building more "stuff". His Blazer he wanted to build. Babies. A Family of our Own. Of course, I would anxiously await the next communication the second we had to finish the first. But, there was always a next time. And there was always a countdown to when he would be home.

Please, please when you say your prayers tonight, say them for the soldiers that are over there. Pray they have a next time. Pray they come home safely. Pray for the strength and unity of a marriage and a family to withstand the distance and the separation. Prayers can be heard. They can be felt. I felt them when you all were praying for me. I felt them very strongly and could feel the many, many prayers coming my way. Please, also give that to the soldiers who are in harms way. And know that when our men and women, our 101st, comes home, another brigade has to go back over, so never stop praying for this. Always pray for the strength and guidance of the command team, and pray that they do what is best for their soldiers and our country, but remind them that the soldiers are also individuals with families, lives, homes and hearts back here. Pray for Peace on Earth (I know, cliche, but still...). Pray that we might find a way to end the suffering and destruction. Maybe t he combination will bring them safely home.

When I first found out about Matt, I was so angry. Why didn't OUR prayer work? We even said it out loud, holding hands, together, praying with everything we had that he would come home safely. We asked God to let him come back to us. But, maybe someone else, somewhere else, was praying harder. I don't know what to think about what is going on. I purposely have not followed it for the last year, to protect myself, but before that, I just knew that for some reason, the only way to find peace was to kill? That never has, and never will, make sense to me. Two wrongs don't make a right, no matter which way you spin it. But, when being bullied, you must also stand up and defend yourself. Sometimes, at this point, I wonder who is bullying whom, though.

Another positive about the deployment, however, is that our relationship did grow stronger throughout, I think. I think both of us had our grumpy days, for sure, but we always, always knew how much we loved each other. Twelve months is a long time to be away from a loved one, especially during the first year of marriage, but we would make it through. In my opinion, we DID make it through, minus the "small little detail" of him being gone. In the grand scheme of things, even that is not enough to separate us. No matter what, I still love him, and he still loves me. He is still my best friend, and I am still his best friend. I gave him my lifetime, and he gave me his. Together, we can get through anything.

In two days, we will be married for a year. I haven't seen my husband, held his hand, kissed his lips or hugged him in 45 weeks. He has been gone for 14 1/2 weeks. I will not get that again. So, with that being said, no year is going to be better than this one.

Its all about perspective. I will never have a better year, so what do I have to look forward to? I will never have a worse year, so what do I have to lose?

I like what I said above. I wanted to end this post there, but I know that it could be read the wrong way. It means that I love my husband, and because of him, I have had the best year of my life, and fulfilled the greatest role I will ever hold, as his wife. It also means that I have nothing more to lose, but only a way to move up, one step at a time, to fulfill our dreams. They won't be exactly the same, ever, because he can no longer physically be part of them. But, because of him, I will have the strength to move forward. I may be at a standstill right now, but I will move forward. Every step I take is moving forward, no matter how small, because it is a step. I will regain strength and have built up lots of endurance over the past 3 1/2 months. No matter what, one thing I can never, ever again call myself is Weak. He made me that way. He made me that way in life, and he made me that way, even more so, in death. I will still use it as a descriptor for a day, but it will never refer to Me.

I am sorry if this blog is a selfish rendition of a grieving widow. But, that's what it is. The Wagstaff Journey has only just begun. Again, I have no idea where it is going to take me, but it will take me anywhere but backwards.

Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Today has been three months. Three months?!? Where did all the time go? It seemed sometimes that during deployment, three months was like three years. Now, it seems like just a few days. It has been 91 days. It has been 13 weeks. Our lives have been turned upside down. Or, we are still in deployment mode. I can't figure out which way.

So many things have gone through my mind. So many different scenarios to figure out. My mind is quite imaginative, so some thoughts are worse than reality, while others pretend that this never happened and leave me in bliss, waiting for my husband to come home. I haven't figured out yet which ones are less hurtful. No matter what, I have to come back to the reality that he is not here.

I thought I had it figured out. I thought WE had it figured out. We did things the right way. We both waited until we found the one that we were supposed to be with. The one that was meant for each of us. We didn't settle. God pushed us so that we wouldn't settle. Together, we found that. We had that conversation so many times. There was always a reason that different relationships that we both had been in didn't work out, even if that is what we really thought we wanted, and when we found each other, we KNEW that it was because God had a greater plan for find each other and to be together. Together, Matt and I could accomplish anything. We really could.

When I was in Utah, I bought this little stuffed dog at IHOP of all places. I wasn't going to, but it was cute and pink and soft. Why does a 30 year old woman need a little stuffed animal? Well, the tag said "Love to Baby" (one of our nicknames for each other). I had to pick it up. We were trying to find a name for it, and Makayla said "What about Pinky"? All I could think of was Pinky and the Brain. Then, I remembered that when I asked Matt what he wanted to do, he would say "Plan to Take Over the World", like on that show, ha ha. So, that's his name.

I am looking for signs everywhere. Probably looking too much in to them, but I am constantly looking, to know that he is right by me, pretty much at all times. The rainbows. The fact that I have somehow been able to fix stuff that I have no idea of its inner workings. The Rose. Let me tell you about the Rose. I love this one.

I went to put some roses on a friend's husband's (also KIA) grave while in Utah. She only wanted two on the grave, and they sold them only in a dozen. So, I took the rest out to Matt. Matt and I used to always joke "I love you", "I love you", and I would say "I love you infinity plus one more time than you will ever say", and he would say "and I love you one more time than that". Of course, I would laugh and tell him that he couldn't do that, because I already said "plus one more time than you will ever say". He would then say "I just did".

So, I am taking these roses out to his grave. I had already put a kiss box out there the day before. I figured I had three kiss boxes for him- one on the grave, one at his parent's house, and one for me. I would put a rose in each of the the kiss boxes. I then had 7 more, so one rose for every day of the week. I start pulling off the petals on the roses and saying "I love you, You love me". I get down to the last one, and I say "I love you. See honey? One more time than you will ever say". I get up to start straightening the flag, etc at his grave site, and there on the ground lies another petal. He just did.

I go home, and put the flowers in my kiss box, but started with "You love me, I love you". I was being very cautious this time, making sure that I didn't drop any. When finished, I ended on "I love you". I get up to get my third and final kiss box, and another petal is in the flower bag. Again. He just did.

I laughed and told him that if this happened again, I would become obsessive about it, and that I would probably go buy the grocer out of flowers. The third box, the one for his house, didn't do it this time. It ended on "You Love Me".

I am not sure if my sign-searching is helpful or not. Generally, it puts a smile on my face. Actually, it always does, because I know that he really is there watching me. But, I am also looking for signs constantly, which might distract me from other happenings at this time. And, it sometimes perpetuates the "this didn't happen" thoughts in my head.

When I need help with something, I ask him. I find the answer shortly thereafter, but I am sure that he gets a laugh out of the silly things that I am doing in the meantime until I find the answer. My dad and I put up a shed on Thanksgiving, but it needed to be finished the next day as it was too cold and rainy Thanksgiving. Well, I went out and started finishing it up, and could not figure out how I could get the panels on the roof on correctly. I played with it, got mad at it, and then asked him. Well, I had two of the panels reversed and simply had to turn them 180 degrees. And my eyes went right to it, after about 2 hours of fighting with it, and I knew what to do. Really? Like I would have figured that out alone...

I don't know why, when we both FINALLY found each other, God took him away. I have no idea why that is. I don't think it is fair. I don't think that it is fair that I, his Mom and Dad, Brother and Sister, Sister in Law, future Brother in Law, my Mom and Dad and Step Mom, my brothers and sister, our friends, our nieces and nephews, his coworkers, everyone! has to endure this pain. I hope that the bliss he is feeling in heaven is enough to overshadow every bit of hurt that we all feel now. And I know, that if the bliss he has is this much, heaven must be an incredibly wonderful and spectacular place, and one that our minds will not let us even imagine. That is the ONLY way that this is fair. Life isn't fair. Maybe Death is.

Three months. Three MONTHS I have been without him. I have been floating around "without a clue" of what to do or where to go next. I have been terrified of taking the next step of moving forward. I haven't been able to go back to work. I haven't been able to continue at the gym, I haven't been able to talk to some people that I am close with. All of it is because I feel like those are steps I am taking without him. I know that he would want me to move forward. I have been able to do things that I could do during deployment, projects for "when he comes home", but am paralyzed when it comes to the first step of Life without him.

I watched our wedding video today for the first time. I miss him. I miss that day. I miss the hopes and visions that we had of our future. I am thankful that we did not know on our wedding day that this is who I was going to be significantly less than a year later. And that he would be gone.

Why did God push us so hard so that we wouldn't settle, and then He took Matt away?

Our first anniversary is on January 2. I hope I see another Rainbow that day. And I am going to pull the petals from Roses.

Monday, December 6, 2010


With everything going on, sometimes I get lost in myself, and I worry about our family, our future, and our present. Sometimes I forget to think about all the things that are wonderful in my life, especially now.

I am very thankful, first and foremost, for the time that I had with Matt. For the way that we made each other feel, and the way that we loved each other- wholeheartedly- forever. I am very, very thankful for that. I am very thankful that we didn't argue over insignificant things. That we showed our love for each other so that we both could see it, but also so that everyone else could see it too. It is very obvious the way that we feel about each other. I have that to hold on to for the rest of my life. Thank God.

I am also thankful for our family and our friends. Gosh, how could any of us have gotten through this if we didn't have each other? I am thankful for the strength that his family has brought me this week, because last week was not a good one for me. I couldn't find strength, and I felt like I was being bombarded with one thing after the next. They have been a source of solice and strength for me this week. I can feel Matt stronger when I am with them. I really hope that I can give the same to them that they give to me.

I am thankful for my family as well. I think that we have become a stronger unit through time, and that Matt even got to see the strength of my family bonds as well. I am thankful that I can call my Mom and talk to her, or that my Dad will come over whenever I need him to, even if I don't really know that I need him sometimes. I am thankful that my brothers and sister are there to help me, and that hopefully I can help them too. I want our memories of Matt to be fluid in our strength as a family also.

I am thankful for our friends. Especially for those who really knew us together. Those that I can share memories with, and those that understand our relationship. It helps to be able to have fun memories to talk about and laugh about. I am thankful for April for helping me in my very darkest moments, and for being there when I need her.

I am thankful for Captain Butler, who came in to our family not knowing a single one of us, what our reactions would be, how we would handle his death, and has been able to guide us through the worst time of our lives. Her loving, caring, compassionate nature has allowed her to be a saving grace, for all of us. She is now part of the family, and is also a hugger now, ha ha. :) She has been a wonderful blessing to our family, and I am so proud of her accomplishments in the Army, and personally. I know that she will make incredible feats that will only make her even more beautiful of a person than she already is, if that is even possible.

I am thankful for the soldiers, seamen, airmen and marines that are all still serving. All still sacrificing their time, their holidays, their lives for our country. I am thankful that they do this selflessly, and are able to continue their duties when they have lost so much. So much time, so many memories, and also friends. They continue to be there, away from home, because they are protecting us.

I am thankful for my dog, Lily. She is just like my child, so please don't think it is silly. She is there to hug me when I need it, and to distract me when I need that more. She gives puppy kisses, and she is a constant reminder, especially when I am alone, of the love that Matt had for both of us. He used to talk to her on the phone and she would get so excited to hear her Daddy's voice. She used to nibble on his toes when we first started dating him, and she always gave him "drive by slobber kisses" that he would grumble about, but always laugh and knew that he was loved.

I am thankful for all of these things, so I need to not be so sad and weak that I am missing him. I am a generally positive person, and the last week took a lot of strength out of me, but I am finding it again, hopefully. So, for the fact that today I have hope, that makes things better.

I love you, sweet husband of mine. I love you so much. So, so, so much. I miss you like crazy, and can't wait to see you again. But, in the meantime, I will still continue to smile for you.

I love you and am thankful to have you in my Life!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Strong, Weak and Numb

I realize now that days are not measured by "Good" or "Bad". Life, for me now anyways, is measured by a Strength scale. Some days measure higher than others. A 9 or 10 is a strong day. A 1 or 2 is a weak day. Anything in between is just a Numb day.

On a Strong day, I can eat normally, I can sleep, I can be productive, and I can even laugh. Those are the days when I feel like my family and friends, and most of all Matt, are near me, helping us all get through the days. Together we will get through this. Those are the days that I am not afraid that someone else is going to get hurt or die that day. Those are good days.

On a Weak day, I am crying. I am angry, I am sad, I am just beside myself in pain- physical, mental and emotional. There is no eating. There is not very much sleeping, there is absent-mindedness, clumsiness, and more than anything, selfishness. I can't see past myself on those days, other than with the overwhelming fear that it is someone else's time which is going to hurt me worse than I am already hurting. I really, really dislike weak days.

All the other days are Numb days. I don't feel anything. I don't really want to talk to anyone or do anything, but I still push myself through the motions of getting stuff done. I eat, but not because I am hungry- because I know I have to. I sleep in exhaustion, although probably not as good as I should.

My days vary between all three levels as well. I can go from Strong to Weak in the snap of a finger, or the words of a stranger that have absolutely nothing to do with an y situation in my life, or maybe they do. Today, I went from semi-strong to the lowest numb before weak because some little kid in Wal-Mart was saying "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" at the top of his lungs, and she yelled at him.

I can go from Numb to Strong by a song, by a smile, by the same child that was screaming "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy", because I am so utterly happy that this woman has that child.

Memories of my friends, my family and my husband help. But Memories can be a reminder of what is no longer there, also, which doesn't help.

So, in my fluctuations and grief, please ignore my swings. I don't know when they are going to happen. I don't know exactly how or why they happen, but I am trying to figure that out so that I can prepare for them, and hopefully protect everyone (namely- April, my family and his family) from them.

I try not to write on Weak days. Those will just come out very, very, very "poor me". I don't generally write on overly strong days either, because I am so busy getting stuff done and being productive.

I really don't like feeling Numb, either. Matt and my relationship was never, ever, ever numb. Nor will it ever be. It was always Strong. That is who I will become again someday. I know it. He wouldn't want it any other way, and honestly, neither do I. I guess it is just the weakness and numbness that happens in the meantime that is exhausting.

One of my favorite songs through this has been This Too Shall Pass. I listened to it almost nonstop the first few nights after Matt's accident. Each day is another day without him, which I suppose is why lately I have had lots more weak days than I did in the beginning, but I know that he and God will carry me through this. I have no other way to look at life but by that. There is a passage in the song that says:

The one that loved me the most
Turned around and hurt me the worst
I'm trying my best to [stay strong*]
But the pain just keeps singing me songs

*my change- it fits my situation better, I think.

How true is that?!? Her voice is complete perfection with emotion as well, which really brings me peace. My friend Karla first shared this song with me a long, long, long time ago after her Granddaddy died. I didn't realize its true meaning then, or how it applied, because to me it seemed like it was a break up song. Now I know it is definitely not.

The whole song is beautiful and honest and pure. It reminds me of Matt in that way. I wish I would have known how much that song would bring me strength when he was alive so I could have shared it with him more.

Someday, I will get to the point of one of the final passages of the song:

All of a sudden I realized
That it only hurts worse to fight it
So I embrace my shadow and hold on to the morning Light.

If anyone feels like checking this song out, it is beautiful. It is India Arie This Too Shall Pass.

I am going to try to clean now, as writing this has brought me from Numb to a 9 of Strength, I think. Thank you for reading/listening to me. Now it is time to get productive and then head to my Daddy's.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I think it is really starting to set in- the pain. Never have I felt this pain before. Never have I imagined the possibilities of its relentlessness and infinite-ness. Unfortunately, people keep telling me that it is going to get worse before it gets better. The holidays are coming, that is going to be hard. Very hard. Our first anniversary is coming. I won't be able to even hear his voice on our FIRST anniversary!!! I was planning on spending them without him anyway, because he had to be in the sandbox, but that doesn't make this any easier. For two months I haven't talked to him. I have not heard his voice, or heard him tell me he loves me, or told him that I love him. That is, right now, one of the most painful parts.

I miss our days together. Every day, but especially our lazy days. I have learned, through the deployment, to deal with this emptiness, but I still miss it. Before, when I thought of us snuggling lazily on a Saturday morning, it hurt, but we could do that again, in only a few weeks, in only a few months. Now, the feeling of emptiness will be permanent, because never again will we just get to wake up whenever we want to- together. Sleep in or get up early. We always woke up with his leg wrapped around mine and his arm squishing me, holding me in protection. And I would be holding his finger, because my hands are so small compared to his. I would make him breakfast, usually his favorite, french toast, and he would watch his car shows. Or, we would get up and go to Cracker Barrel and he would order Mama's French Toast with Turkey Bacon. We would just talk, or we would play the pin game and he would tease me because he could almost always finish the puzzle, and I was an "Egg-no-ra-mous". We always held hands at dinner while waiting for our food, and we always held hands wherever we went, walking together, or in the car, or wherever.

How does one stay strong when everything in life has changed? It has, but it hasn't. This stupid deployment has taken away our time together, and made me get "used to" not having him around on lazy Saturday mornings, or holding hands at Home Depot. It has made every day life the same, but not, because now there is an incredible, hurtful, horrible emptiness that cannot be replaced or fixed. It has taken the time away from every soldier and military spouse. From everyone who has to leave their spouse at the hangar, and they go away for months or a year. "You are lucky, because you have phone calls and webchats". I am not complaining, because we did have those, and my goodness did I cherish those, but the people who are the first to say that are the ones sitting at home next to their husbands eating ice cream, or fighting with them because they didn't load the dishwasher. How does one explain the emptiness of deployment to someone who has never experienced it? How does one describe the emptiness, the loneliness, and the overall vulnerabilities of being the spouse of a deployed soldier? And how does one do so without sounding like he or she is complaining? And, on the flip side of this, how does the soldier deal with the same issues, only in a foreign country, with the constant threat of harm on their mind? I will tell you this, when they say military families are the strongest of the strong- there is NO lie to that statement.

Now, I know the reality of deployment. I know the reality of this and the hurt that I and my friends (soldiers and spouses) are all experiencing each time the soldier- the other half- leaves. Unfortunately, my reality is going to continue forever now. The emptiness is not going to stop. The loneliness and vulnerability will always be there. My other half is forever gone.

I am so thankful that for a relatively short period of time I had my other half, and that my world could revolve around him, and that his world revolved around me. Luckily, my relatively short period of time was enough for a lifetime of memories that I will forever cherish. We were together all the time, unless the army was involved and needed him for something. The spouse of a soldier is never truly number one, because the Army always has to come first. That is a sacrifice that is made by the individual, and by the families, every time the line is signed. But, for one year and 9 months (9.5....), I found my other half, and I think that he found his. Together we were finally whole. We belonged, and the emptiness felt by both of us was finally, finally soothed.

How am I supposed to go back to the emptiness? Fortunately, I have our memories that helps fill the void. However, we cannot make new memories. The emptiness I feel now is different from that during deployment, but much, much, much different from that I had before I met him. I didn't know it existed before I had him. Now that I have been whole, I can realize the emptiness is there, and it is excruciating. The pain of him being gone can't be soothed. The feeling of wanting him near me is no longer calmed by me saying "just a few more weeks". Because that is when it sets in that the only time this feeling will go away is when I see him in Heaven.

I love you, baby. I miss you like crazy and need you so much. I miss my other half and my feeling of wholeness. I still continue smiling for you daily. I have realized that the smiles only temporarily make the pain go away.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Next 30 Years...and, I Take it Back....

I WAS looking forward to it. We had so much planned, so much on our "To Do List". Babies, House, Move, Career, HAPPINESS, LOVE. I will turn 30 on Wednesday. Thank Goodness I had my husband in my first 30 years. It was a short time, but thank goodness I had him. For that, it will last a lifetime.

We would be getting back from our honeymoon tomorrow. Why didn't we take it right after we got married? Well, for a few reasons.

I had to save my PTO for his R&R, when he would be coming home to get some MUCH needed rest from being in the sandbox for 8 months prior. I had to save it so that we could spend the entire time together, with no distractions.

We were also waiting, in case there was the slightest chance he would get the IP school he was promised before he went to Afghanistan. We were trying to keep his schedule as open as possible. This is also why we chose our wedding date of January 2, an incredibly inconvenient time for everyone. We knew that if he got the course, he would, no matter what, be able to be home then, or over Christmas. New Years was the lesser of two evils, and the one that would work the most with people's schedules.

We had so much to do before he left for deployment. Matt wanted the house together, so that nothing would happen to it while he was gone. So that I wouldn't have any worries while he was away for "a few months". We hung shelves, he built a walk-in closet system, he put more shelving in the laundry area so I would have more storage space. We built a bench for our plants. He built a driveway to put the truck in so that it wouldn't be so obvious he was away, and so that April would have a place to park. We were getting ready for him to be "gone" for a few months.

I was SO annoyed that we had so much "to do". All I wanted to do was snuggle with him, spend time with him cuddling, or going to movies or to different places to enjoy our time together. All I wanted to do was that. I did get him away to Gatlinburg for two nights so that we could spend some time together for his birthday. I am so happy for those days. But, all the while, he kept worrying about "finishing" things at home. It was hard to distract him from that. We came home, and again, I was annoyed, but I wasn't going to let him do it by himself. I helped where I could, even if it was holding the level, holding screws. He did show me how to and let me drill big holes in to the wall, which was fun. But, I would have settled for a movie on the couch at that point. I tend to fall asleep when we watch movies together. In fact, I even started making him pick out movies he wanted, because I would fall asleep, and he would get stuck watching some movie I picked out that he didn't really like, because he wouldn't move me and wake me up.

Again, I was telling A-Rod about this, and my annoyance about it, and how I was extra annoyed now. He said "Yes, but would you remember that? Would you remember what movie you went to? Would you remember where you ate at, or what you talked about that particular moment?" Gatlinburg was the best thing for that time, and it was best because we got away for a brief moment, but we still came home, and we still put Our Home together. He taught me so much, just in those few weeks. I also learned lots from him over the time we were together, fixing the house so that we could sell it. He taught me patience, confidence, and more than anything, Love.

I take it back. I take back my annoyance with all the "stuff" we had to do. I take back the fact that I just wanted to watch movies and snuggle. We still did plenty of that, don't get me wrong. At the time, though, I just wanted more. I still want more. It never will be enough, but I take back that those wouldn't have been specific memories. I am glad that we had the time together doing what we did, fixing and making Our Home Ours.

I take back other things too. When we were planning our wedding, about half way through I decided it wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth the work, the money, the hustle and bustle, caring about every stupid little detail, worrying about whose feelings were going to be hurt because they weren't invited. I told friends to "go to a beach, enjoy your time there, and get your honeymoon at the same time, and take only those the very, very closest". I still think this is a wonderful idea, and that is more for personal preference of the couple getting married. But, looking back on the planning, we talked about, as referenced in another posting, so much more than just the planning. I don't think that we wouldn't have done our official talk if we went to a beach, but maybe it would have been on the plane ride out there. Now, I have memories of the day, the sun, the cold weather, the smiles on his face, and our family's faces, our friend's faces, every little detail, every little annoyance about our wedding day. I am SO thankful that we had our wedding in a little chapel in the middle of nowhere, and not a beach. I am sure that I would have excellent memories of a beach wedding, but I can smell him on the day of the wedding. I can see his face, and I know that the day he became my husband, I had no worries for the rest of my life, because we would be together. Since he passed away, I am no longer looking for the "what if this was different" factors of our wedding planning that I was before, because NONE of that matters. Every little detail, every little memory of planning, together, was worth it.

Another thing that I would take back, and probably the most painful "what if" thing that I would take back, is our decision to push his R&R back to 3/4 of the way through the deployment. This was a conscience decision on our part. We made this decision, and we made it with the thought that we would get through the longest, hardest part of the deployment, and then he would come home, rest up, and it would be a short time before he was back, in my arms, safely, again. Up until the day before he died, I was thinking "what a great idea. Thank goodness. Only four weeks left until I get to see him, and then it will be short and sweet and he will be home". FAIL! That was a horrible decision, looking at it now. If we would have pushed it up, even a month earlier, he could have gotten the rest he needed. Maybe I could have prevented this. It would have allowed us more time together. Allowed us more kisses, more cuddles, more "I love you's". More tickles and teases, more smiles, more laughter, MORE MEMORIES. I honestly despise that decision now. And my hatred for that particular decision came very clear the second I learned about the crash while at the gym, even though I didn't know for sure that it was him. Yet.

The final decision that I want to take back is our decision to "wait a year, spend time together, travel, and THEN we will think about children". Oh my gosh. What on earth am I going to do without his children? NO. It is NOT a blessing we didn't have children. NO. I DON'T thank God that we didn't have children. Please, never, ever say that to me. Please never, ever say that to my parents or his parents, or our siblings or anyone involved in our lives. I am liable to kick you in the teeth. Not to hurt you, but because my hurt for this one is so overwhelming, and so overpowering that I cannot be held responsible for my reaction to those words. He and I wanted NOTHING more than to have children. But, we also wanted to live our lives together, briefly, without them so that we could bond more as a couple, and more align ourselves to better prepare to be parents. Now, I will NOT get to see him as a Daddy. I have seen him as an uncle. I KNOW that he would be the Best Daddy. I know that I would be a good Mommy. It is NOT okay to talk about the blessings that we have for not having children.

I was so worried that I was pregnant when he first left. I was terrified that I was going to have to go through a pregnancy alone. After many, many pregnancy tests, I finally convinced myself that I was not pregnant. Matt and I had talked about not getting pregnant on our honeymoon. That would have interrupted his sister's wedding, and our welcome home in Utah. And, he would have missed out on some of the beginning of the pregnancy. About a week before he died, I decided that it would not be the worst thing in the world if I got pregnant on our honeymoon. Our little souvenir. Our miracle together. I would have done what was necessary to get to Utah for his sister's wedding. I realized that I might have still been able to travel, but as soon as I got home, I would have to stay there. It was not exactly what we had planned, but it would be okay. I could send him daily pictures and videos and updates about how I was feeling the early part of the pregnancy so that he could participate. And he could send me updates about how he was feeling and what he was thinking. We could have "shopped" for baby stuff together, somehow, when the internet was up again over there. It COULD have worked.

But, we did NOT have that opportunity, so it is NOT okay to say that to me. It is NOT okay to say that to anyone when they have lost their loved one too soon. You do NOT know what is going through their heads, what their situation is, what their plans were.

These past couple weeks, and this weekend especially have been very hard for me. I apologize that this posting is not as "strong" as I generally try to make them. I don't normally write when I am having a "weak" day. I don't want the pain to come out, because pain is not comforting.

This week, April and I are taking a Honeymoon. We are going to some beach, some where, where I can wear my honeymoon clothes. I am taking Matt's with me also. Call me crazy. I don't care. She and I both need to get away from unexpected phone calls, to do lists, paperwork, solicitors....I need to have my time with my husband. It is not the same place that we were going to go. I will visit that place someday, maybe when I am strong enough to go alone. Maybe I will see if April can go with me there too. It is also appropriate because this last week was our 14 year anniversary of meeting (and also Happy 14 years to everyone else in Monmouth that I met- Thanks Ambi for inviting me Trick or Treating as the new kid!).

I didn't know 14 years ago that April was my soulmate best friend. I had no idea. We knew each other, and talked in study hall and Mrs. Schultz used to yell at us, but we were both tied up in our own lives. I don't want this in any way, shape or form to diminish the importance of my other friendships. I have MANY best friends. I really do. They ALL have an incredibly important and beautiful place in my heart. But, April is the one that I really believe is my Soulmate best friend. I am not sure either one of us realized that until I moved to Chicago, and even more so when she moved here. April understands me in ways that I never knew anyone could, until Matt. April can make me laugh when I only want to cry. She knows when I need my space, she knows when I need a hug, or a cuddle from one of the dogs. She knows what is good for me, and what is not. Even before I do, sometimes much before I do. She knows the right things to say, or to do, or to not say, or to not do. She is the closest thing to Matt that I have ever had, or ever will have. I am SO thankful to have her in my life, every single second, even when I am yelling at her dog, ha ha, because I am really cranky that day. I love you, Pearly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


In just under one week (Tuesday, November 2), one year ago, my boyfriend gave me the best gift I have ever had at that point. He offered me his Life. He asked me to marry him and I accepted. I hope this was the best gift he had ever had at that point as well. Shortly thereafter, I got him Bose surround sound for Christmas. :) He wanted to be with me forever, and I knew it, without a doubt. I also wanted to be with him forever, and he knew it, without a doubt. Instantly, we moved from boyfriend and girlfriend to "Fiancee".

What a fancy term for two people who are crazily trying to plan a wedding. :) For two people who are struggling to find the perfect colors, bridal party gifts, and favors for the table (okay, I will admit it, only I cared about that part). For two people who want to make sure that their guests, even though we kept the list very small to stay under budget- because of course we had time to share with everyone after he came home from deployment- had the best dinner, the yummiest cake, and the most wonderful time. Oddly enough, (and intelligently enough) we were more worried about staying in our small budget so we didn't have to take out a loan for our wedding. Our wedding was small, we had pulled pork and beans and coleslaw on the menu. We had a tiny guest list, inviting only those that we knew could come, or had easy access to come. We had a cake from Wal-Mart, and not even pretty silverware or cutlery to cut it with. But, we didn't care, because we actually planned, more than the wedding, our marriage.

We started planning our marriage from the time we met, although we didn't know it. When we first spent a full day together, we talked about everything. We talked about our religious views, our desires of what we wanted to be or do in the future, whether or not we wanted children. Kind of a weird conversation for a first date, huh? It was an easy conversation, though. I talked about me. He talked about him. We talked about our wants separately, but almost all of them aligned. We didn't necessarily know that at the time, but now as I see it, that is EXACTLY what we were doing.

As we moved forward in our relationship, the conversations moved to more about us, and what we wanted together, for a future, for a long and healthy life together. Again, they aligned. This time even more so, because they aligned with one of us also thinking about the other in the conversation and in our plans. We talked about everything. What was important to us, what was not important to us. What was worth fighting for, and fighting over, and what was not. We talked about all of this. Again, it probably wasn't always in the context of "this is what we are going to do", but we talked about it. Even in passing conversations on our way to the movie theater, or Home Depot, or the grocery store. We talked about it. Openly and honestly, and in a very non-judgemental way. Both of us said what we wanted. Both of us listened to what the other wanted. Both of us had our own opinions, and although they didn't always match on things, we understood each other, and respected each other.

We did do "official" talks about our marriage. We took premarital counseling, and in that counseling there were a few (but only a few) items that we had never talked about or taken in to consideration. We discussed them, and again, listened to each other and heard what the other was saying. The best part of this was that we wrote many of our answers down. Especially those we didn't necessarily agree upon. We talked about them, and came to an agreement.

On January 2, 2010, I became his wife. This is the happiest day of my life, to that time. Every day after that just got happier and happier, because it was one more day that I am his wife. We belong to each other, and we are truly, officially, One. There were sad days after our wedding day, like the day he found out that he had to deploy Torch party, only three weeks before he had to go, or the day that he had to deploy, or times after the deployment when it was just hard and just plain sucked. There were days that were sad. But, no matter what, we always had each other. That made it always worth it to get through one more day. Weeks down until we could see each other, then months, then a countdown to when we would see each other again. Those were the happy times. Seeing how much we had been through, and how much the reward is worth it in the end. No matter how hard it was, every time I talked to him, all the days before were worth it.

When I think about our relationship, the thing that I think the most about (in general, not specific moments) is the fact that I just wanted so much for my friends and family to be able to have someone just like him. I joked all the time that I wanted to clone him and give him out to my friends as gifts, or to clone "replacement parts" to fix different parts of different people that loved my friends and/or family. Of course I wasn't giving mine up! It was funny, but now I realize how truthful that really was that I was saying that.

When it comes to love, I know that my husband and I had the purest, most loving relationship that there really ever could have been. We had mutual respect, mutual trust, mutual love, and we shared many common goals. There was never anyone trying to do better than someone else. There was never competition (unless it was very friendly and sometimes very silly competition, but I won't get in to that), there was never, ever disrespect. Instead, we always worked towards a common goal. We worked towards seeing the other succeed. We worked towards constant respect and admiration for each other. Luckily, now, with everything that has happened, I have that from him that I can live with for the rest of my life. I really only wish this for my friends and family members. I really only wish that they can pull their half of this promise that is a relationship, a marriage, and a friendship. And I really only wish that their other half can do the same for them. After all, it is only fair. If this world is so cruel and unfair, then why can't the one thing that is fair be the person that you love?

Before we got married, I was TERRIFIED of marriage. All I had ever really seen and experienced was failure. People quit too easily, people hurting one another, people who didn't care or respect the wishes of the other. People my age and younger were already divorced, some twice! I was terrified. I knew that he was going to be a good husband, but was I going to be a good wife? Would I give up too easily when it got tough? Of course, I would never WANT to, but would I? I have never been married before. I don't know how to do this, I don't know what is right and what is wrong. I talked to my friends and I actually talked to my "someday to be mother-in-law" about this the first time I met her when we were there as he was completing his terminal leave (separation from the Army when he was trying to get out last summer/fall). She told me something that I will NEVER forget. She said "We believe in Marriage". Simple as that. From that point on, I really believed in marriage too. I believed that I could do it. I knew that marriage was not going to be a walk in the park. Sometimes we were going to get mad at each other and fight. Sometimes I would annoy him, or he would annoy me. We may develop "issues" that the other might not like. But, no matter what, I could and would always believe in marriage. Marriage is for Life. We had a very short one, and I was robbed of our life together. I was crying about this one night, and his friend A-Rod told me that our marriage and time together was short, but to him, it was a Lifetime. Thank you for giving me your Lifetime, sweetheart. I love you.

When they say "Communication is Key", from this new wife, and also new widow, I say that is absolutely, mostly definitely the truth. Had Matt and I not communicated through our entire relationship, then I would have no idea what I should be doing from one moment to the next right now. I don't exactly know even with the communication, but I have better guidance from the communication that we did have. I can better see, at a minimum, how he feels about me, and I know that he loves me with everything he has, and I know that he knows that I love him with everything I have. I can use the communication that we did have to answer some, not all, of the questions that I have. I know what is right to do. I can use the communication we had, verbal and nonverbal, written and out loud, as guidance for what to do and how to do it, even when I am facing the worst pain that I could ever imagine.

Communication is not just Key, it is Love.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weirdness. Transparency. Absurdities.

Short and sweet. Hopefully sweet.

Weirdness. Is it weird that I share my emotions? Is it weird that I can't stop posting on my husband's facebook page because I am scared that this is yet another way that I am leaving him? Is it weird? Is it weird that I know every person on my contact list either in person or from stories that he has told me about this one or that one? Is it weird?

Well, my thought about that, and I have come to the conclusion, is that I don't care if it is weird. I have decided through much help from supportive friends and family (read: those who know me well) that if I want to do that, I can. That is WHO I am. I am an open person. I am a nearly "read through me" person. I am transparent. When I am dying on the inside, I can't hide it. Even from complete strangers. When I am thrilled, I can't hide it. Even from close friends when I am trying really, really hard. I can't hide it. So, why try? Why should I try?

Why I should try. I should try because I don't want the things that I am doing or saying to interfere with other people's lives. People don't want to see others hurting, except those select few that seem to find comfort in the pain of others. I am not worried about them. I am worried about the people that my words to my husband in a not so private manner are hurting. Trust me, I am not wanting to hurt them. With that being said, I am going to try to mute stuff. But, as I said above, I am transparent. I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse. Blessing because I don't generally ask for help (although April might counter that. :) ). Curse, because I am so transparent, and my thoughts and feelings may offend others. "Why do you care what other people think?"

That is a tough one. No, it's not. I can explain it how I explained it to April, although it was not in that particular context. I want people to see me as Matt saw me. I want them to know why he loved me. Maybe that is an extension of the fact that I want those who love Matt to love me too? I guess it doesn't matter. I can't please everyone. I will never be able to please everyone at the same time no matter what. ~That is SO much easier said than done, to break the habit to want that... Anyway. I don't want anyone to see me as ugly. I don't mean ugly in the physically ugly way. I mean it in showing the anger, fear and rage that I am having right now. I am not an angry, fearful or raging person, so these are tough to deal with. Especially the anger. I used to get mad and "rage" briefly for stupid stuff. Very insignificant stuff as I now see it. But, to actually be angry? To actually feel hate or almost hate? Never. I suppose even now, it cools down to less than hate, less than almost hate, but the fact that I am actually, most definitely feeling absolute, most definite HATE, even for a brief period, is something new for me. Never in my life have I had that. Now I can say I have experienced it. Its short lived, but I have experienced it. I don't like that. I don't want that, and I don't want to change in to that person. Uh. Where was I? Oh, caring about what people think. I don't want to change from the person that Matt loved me as. Of course, there is going to be a "new" me. Ugh. I seriously dislike that thought. How will he remember me or know me if I change in to a new me?

I know everyone else is over this. At least somewhat. Those that don't know me or our family and those closest to the situation- they have moved on with it. I am lingering hurt in others by continuing to be transparent. BUT, I can't change who I am, and I won't change who I am. So, I apologize that those who are hurt or "reminded" by my transparency are letting my healing hurt them. That goes back, sort of, to the fact that some people find comfort in the hurting of others. If their comfort is to be angry at me for my healing process, I can't help them. But I can't not heal to try to help them. I will mute, but only mute.

Privacy. I have lots of privacy. I have lots of things that I talk to him about. Just me and him. I feel that he is answering me, although not in the manner I would like. I feel that he is answering me as when I ask him something, or talk to him about something, a memory pops in to my head that answers my question, explains to me the way that he would explain it. Seemingly, it is in his voice, and probably in the exact words that he said before, just applying to other situations. I see a snapshot of his facial expression as it would apply to the particular situation. That is helpful. And there, to me, he is Transparent. To me. That is stuff that only those that I choose to tell will know. Some things no one will ever know. But me and him.

Healing. How does one heal from losing the very person that made the dreams of life happen? That is not meant to sound overdramatic, as I know it does. HE was the other half to giving US a family together. HE was the other half of the WE that were going to make an eco-friendly home somewhere in the beautiful mountains someday, and HE was the other half of keeping me focused, while I was the other half of keeping HIM focused, on our goals. HE was the other half of US. He IS the other half. We didn't have a long time together, but we did know that.

In Graduate School, my professor told me one day "Only She who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible", which is a quote by Robin Morgan, a radical feminist. I don't consider myself a radical feminist by any means, but definitely a feminist (for COMPLETE equality, as even after 7 years out of graduate school, I still have to explain that feminist means equal, not some bra burner who is trying to make a man's life a living hell- I digress). Anyway, that is a quote that has gotten me through rough, rough times in my life, and I have no doubt that it will be stronger now than ever. If I don't attempt the absurd, how am I going to achieve my goals, our goals? How does anyone achieve any goals without attempting the strange, the out of the box? And not only that, how does one achieve anything by not looking around to find the most people-friendly way? The way that will benefit the most. It may be more work, but WE helped others. Some of the ideas WE had together were very, very absurd. And so we laughed. He loved my "absurd". My crazy thoughts. My "interesting" way of looking at things. And HE participated, actively, in my Absurd. It made us Fun. It made us...US. How does one do US alone? Not sure...yet. And, luckily, I am not alone. There are so many people who make up little pieces of him and of me and of us. I can find him. And I can find us. I just have to look in absurd places.

So, I embrace Weird, Transparent and Absurd.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Wagstaff Journey- a New Beginning?

©April Kitchin Photography
Please do not crop, copy or edit. Thank you!

September 21, 2010

I lost the Love of my Life to the Freedoms of our Country. I find comfort in two of these things.

First, I had the opportunity to meet and briefly enjoy the love of my life. I wish I had longer, Lord I wish I had longer--lots longer, bunches and bunches. However, the one year and nine months that I had him were the most amazing of my life, and I think for him too. I would not change a thing about the way I love him, the way he loves me, and the connection that we have. Forever I will be changed for that. Forever I will never take love, family or friends for granted. Forever I will love and honor him. Forever.

Secondly, I will never again take the freedoms of our country for granted. My husband died so that we could have our freedoms. We could have our speech, our religion, our right to bitch, whine and moan over the stupidest and simplest of trivial wants. My husband died so that we have the freedoms that we do have, so that we will not succumb to idiocracy and chaos. With that being said, we also have the right of free will and because of his sacrifice, we can still succumb to idiocracy and chaos, if that is the choice we make. He made it possible for people to have a CHOICE. From now on, I choose to choose correctly. Some decisions are harder than others, but I choose to choose what is best for me, and for the betterment of people. Another note on that (and please, understand that today has intermittently been a very angry day, so excuse my language): you motherF%^&&*rs that are protesting the funerals of Soldiers who DIED for YOUR FREEDOMS to be a jack ass- maybe it is time for you to stop, look at your idiocracy, and see your chaos and CHOOSE the right decision. Hmmmphf.

Anyway, back to being strong and comforted. September 21, 2010 I received the worst news I could ever possibly fathom. Somehow I knew it was coming. I knew that I wasn't going to see him again, hold him again, kiss him again or touch him again the second he had to walk away from me on February 24, 2010, just 6 weeks after we were married. The second he left me to become a soldier. The second I was the wife to a true American Hero who left me and our life to go and fight for the lives of others, to save the lives of others, so that we could have a better life and a more free life. Of course, although I knew, I didn't know. He didn't let me believe that what I was feeling was real. He didn't let me worry. "It's okay, baby, I will be home soon. Smile for me, baby baby. Just smile '-I don't want to-' Just smile for me." [And then I did.] I didn't believe him at first, but then, I did. I don't think that he lied to me. I think that he was doing exactly what he is best at. He was protecting me. He was making me know and feel how much he loves me. I feel that Today, three weeks after his accident. Three weeks after he was no longer with us in body. I know that he is hugging me, protecting me, and making this terrible, tragic moment as easy as possible. And this is what he will always be doing.

The greatest thing about Matt, my husband, is that he was always able to make one feel like this from a simple touch, smile, hug, kind word, kind act, or just his presence. He was no-nonsense, but also loving and caring. That man has the biggest heart that I have ever seen or felt. His heart is one where he loves you- strongly, softly, majestically, but loves you with everything he had, no matter what he is doing. He does this without even knowing. He does this from two inches away, or ten thousand miles away. And now, he can be two inches away from Everyone he loves--constantly. And he didn't just do it with me. He did it with every single person he knew. That is WHY he was where he was, in Afghanistan, fighting for people he did not know. That is WHY he was such a perfectionist in everything he did; that is WHY he DIED for people who don't take responsibility for themselves, all over the globe. THAT IS WHY.

I have been searching for the reason WHY the last three weeks. Why did God take mine? Why on earth would God need Matt more than I did. My ENTIRE life depended on my husband coming home to me. I am not saying I know the answers. I never will know the answers. All I know is that a new Wagstaff Journey has begun. It has taken a different turn. A much different turn, and one that I am fighting to have to take, but know I have to do it. I don't know where it is going to take me, but I am going to do it, knowing that he is standing beside me, helping me move forward, loving me and everyone else we know and love. I can't wait for the cameras to come out of the bushes to tell me this is all a joke. I will punch whoever does that, after I hug and kiss them and ask where my husband is, and to see him, to laugh with him, to love him, to never let him go. I know in my head that the cameras are not coming out of the bushes. So, in my heart, I have to continue to see him, laugh with him, love him, and never let him go.

The turn I have to take is the stance that Matt would have. I need to realize that my husband died for me, his family, his friends, and the entire nation; one could even venture to say the entire world, and I would be completely understanding, and pretty accepting, of that.

The Wagstaff Journey is bumpier, twistier, crazier than I have ever expected, but it will continue on. And it will continue on in a way that will honor, respect and love Matt, my husband (as much as I would love to put his full name here, I don't want this coming up on a google search). His family, his friends, my family, my friends- we will all come together to know how much HIS life truly meant. The unity I already feel between my family and his family, his friends and my friends--that is the strength of Matt, pulling all of his loved ones together to help support each other, love and honor each other, and ultimately, be there for HIM.

I love you sweet hubby of mine, bunches and bunches, by the way. I miss you like crazy, but as always, I will make you as proud as possible of me. I know you are hugging me constantly, loving me constantly, and always holding my hand. Forever. And for that, I Smile.


Your Adoring Wife

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Projects Update

Wow. I didn't realize it has been that long since I last posted. Hmmm.

Well, I actually am quite impressed with the amount of motivation that I have kept going. I have slowed down a bit the last two weeks, but that is more because I am exhausted. Oh, and it is hot. Hmm. Somehow I feel that I don't really have room to complain about that. My hubby is probably sweating right now reading this when he really just wants a nap. I love you baby!

Back to motivation. I have kept up with quite a few of the projects I started. For instance, working out. Wow. I am really impressing myself with this one. I didn't think it would ever happen! I have still been going to the gym regularly and consistently. Last week was the only really "bad" week I had, but I was not feeling the best. Anyway, when I went back to my personal trainer at the end of July, I had lost 5% body fat in just the first three weeks that I was working really hard! I go back again in about two weeks for my next visit to see where my progress is now. I don't really feel much 'stronger', but I can definitely see even more improvement in my shape and endurance. Also, I managed to buy two honeymoon swimsuits and actually like them both. That has NEVER happened before! I am taking a daily multi-vitamin and really focusing on trying to get healthy. It won't be too long before my health will mean the health of our new family..(Disclaimer- no definite plans for that just yet, just looking forward to the future! (: )

The CST is still going strong too. I did already see some results. I have "peach fuzz/baby hair" on the top of my head. I also have leg hair and arm hair again, which I haven't had for a while. I don't notice any eye brows or eye lashes coming in just yet, though. Well, I guess I have some really short eyelashes on my right eye. Something is going on, because I haven't had the problems with stuff in my eyes as badly as before. I still want to see lots more growth and maybe someday it will all come back. If not, well, no worries for me, finally, as my husband loves me for who I am, and so do my friends and family. If my experiment doesn't work, oh well. I feel better and healthier by going, so with or without hair, I think the CST is a positive experience for me.

The driveway. Welllllll, the driveway hasn't had much progress since the last time I posted. This summer has been very hot. In fact, I feel a bit guilty for having my brother shovel all the dirt out that he did in the heat that we had. Looking back, that day was HOT! There still have been many more hot days just like it, so I haven't gotten anything more accomplished on that. No worries, though. Dad and Chad both said that they would help me finish it up before Matt gets home for R&R. I want absolutely nothing to tease his mind to knock out a project while he is home and supposed to be resting. They will all be done!

Oh yeah, I forgot about my bathroom project (as I was looking through for pictures to post to make this more interesting, ha ha)! I have a semi-large master bathroom, but it is separated in to a vanity room and a shower/toilet room. I actually do like this separation, but it makes the space seem so small. I hung shelves in the bathroom so that I could open what little bit of cabinet space we have in the vanity room, and so that I don't have to freak out every time I forget to bring a towel in to the shower with me! Nice, huh? I am pretty proud of this one. I used the drill and everything!

The flowers. April and I did get a beautiful flower bed in the front yard, and after about a week, well, maybe two, got mulch down on it to finish it off. It looks really pretty. We decided not to take down the Holly tree at this time, but that might be a "someday" project. Definitely not for this year. I also put up a white picket fence in front of our yard. Man. I really need to be better at getting pictures of this stuff! It does look nice.¨

I still have a huge list of projects to do before Matt gets home. We have a new puppy in the house (April's Yorkie, Stella) so she is keeping us plenty busy as well. Some of my projects are those that I will need to do several times before he comes home (like shampoo carpets and clean the garage), but some I can knock out before he comes home. I can't believe we only have about two months until he is home for R&R! How exciting!

Oh- and the final project- paying off the bills. Well, we are down to the last three revolving credit accounts that are not student loans, vehicles or the mortgage. Matt and I are certain that we can pay all three of them off while he is gone. I am so excited! This is definitely a positive of the deployment--getting out of debt. It is weird how much our paychecks can really start working for us, instead of them just going right back through the bank to pay someone else. Well, I am assuming. We haven't gotten to that part just quite yet, but soon enough! We are able to pay bigger and bigger chunks on the bills and get those paid down so that we don't have to worry about the income anymore, as long as we have one! We can pay bills now without batting an eye that would have possibly paralyzed us last year for a moment! And it is because we are getting out of our debt! What a GREAT feeling!
Overall, I think I am over my deployment slump. We officially hit the half way mark this week, and are now getting to countdown. The hard part is over, and now we get to look forward to him coming home! We have only several weeks until his R&R and our honeymoon, and two wonderful weeks together, then a final push for a few months. Then, my husband comes home to me! What a wonderful feeling that will be!

(And finally, I can't figure out how to make it not underline at the top. Just sayin') :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Projects, Projects and more Projects!!!

It's been a while. The last many blog postings I have tried to post have turned out a little, um, negative, bitter, sad, angry, etc, so I didn't want to actually post them. Today's, other than the fact that my back is killing me, is not going to do that!

I have SO many projects going on. The first, and possibly most important, is that I have started going to the gym--consistently--in the morning!-which is a huge accomplishment for me, because I am generally neither a consistent person, nor a morning person. :) It has been a week, and I am already noticing differences! I feel much more energetic, definitely less anxious, and am also toning up a bit! :) Yay! My "regular jeans" were falling off of me a bit yesterday, and I think soon my "skinny jeans" will get to be my regular jeans! WooHOO! To anyone thinking about adopting a morning exercise regime, my friend Kim (who has, I really think, 4% body fat or something like that...) gave me great advice, as my excuse was always that I didn't want to get up to go in the morning. "Waking up only sucks for the first 15 minutes or so". Now, I know Matt has told me that millions of times, but it actually clicked this time. And she was SOOO right. It is so nice to get up, get moving and get stuff done, all before the day actually starts. I then don't have to worry about the fifty million reasons why I can't make it to the gym in the afternoon/evening, because I have already worked out that morning! Oh, not only that, but I am drinking massive amounts of water, which I know is good for me, and a lot less soda!

The next thing is that I get to go to Cranial Sacral Therapy this week. I am SUPER excited about this! I have not done any alternative therapies since I was going to my beloved Pam, and I am ready to get back in to it! My first appointment is on Wednesday. Very exciting stuff! I hope it works, and that I get regrowth again. I know its possibly impossible at this time, but I really want to try all I can to get at least some hair regrowth while Matt is gone. Eyebrows and lashes would be really nice! I am sick of getting dust, etc in my eyes all the time. I told someone the other day that I always have something in my eye, and half the time it is my fingers.

Speaking of dust, April and I are making a lot of dust around the house and yard lately as well. We are extending the driveway, and Chad (my brother) was gracious enough to help us dig it out. I still have a little more digging to do, and then I am finally ready to put down the fabric, pavers and rock. I can't wait for that to be done, because it is dug out enough that I don't want to park the truck in the back now for fear that I might accidentally go off the edge and scratch the bottom or mess something up. So, for now, we are moving vehicles constantly so one or the other of us can get out.

The other thing we are doing is planting a flower garden. We wanted a veggie garden too, but really missed the boat on that one, so flowers will do. I got almost all of the plants planted, but need to get one more rose bush, and plant some "trim" flowers to finish, then lay mulch. Oh, and edging. That would be nice. That should be it, unless we completely decide to take down the Holly tree, which is entirely a possibility. Don't worry, I won't take one down without planting at least one more, but probably two more, as that will open up lots of space!

I also made a "deployment project" list. Boy, I have lots of stuff on there. I have a big whiteboard full of the list of things I need to do. I am getting some crossed off the list, and I am sure that more will be added as we go on throughout the deployment. The projects keep me busy, and also keep my mind off of Matt being away. It also helps time go by faster. I know I am doing this for the both of us, because I tend to get a little weepy and whiney when I don't have a project going on. :) It definitely would get done faster if Matt were here, because he has more focus than I do, and also because we tend to keep each other "going", but it will get done nonetheless, which will allow us more time to do what we want instead of work on projects when he is home.

Oh, and of course, we are paying off bills left and right as well. That is SUCH a great feeling! By the time Matt gets home, we will be completely out of credit card debt, the motorcycle will be paid off, and we will be paying off our vehicles in huge chunks! That is a great feeling!

Well, that's it for now. Off to bed as I have an early workout in the morning!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happiness Makes Me Happy!

In the words of Kellie Nelson, "I just love 'love'".

Again, this trip has been really nice. It has been nice to get away, and it has been great to be around Matt's family. I feel like I have had little pieces of Matt with me all week long. This has been really good for me, as I was really starting to miss him, and even though I know he is there, and I know he is him, I have missed his silliness, and his loving, caring ways. Being here with his family certainly reminds me of who he is, and why I love him (and them all) so much.

Today, we went to lunch with Jason, Amanda, Kaden and Addison. Makayla was at school (but I did get a big squeeze from her when I saw her later this afternoon). Anyway, while we were at lunch, Kaden sat next to me, and let me help color in his coloring book. He was showing me how he did his puzzles. It was so cute. He said to me, as the waiter walked over, "I'm getting the cheese pizza". Jason then ordered the cheese pizza for him, and he looks at me and said "See, I told you!" It was adorable. That little man ate all his pizza! What a big boy (or, I mean, "just a kid"). Addison was sleepy, but Amanda said that she has been sleeping better this week. What a great break for mommy and daddy. They are such great parents! Watching them with their kids really makes me want them too. I can't wait to see Matt as a Daddy! I know he will be amazing!

Tonight, Ron and Suzanne and I went to go see "The Bounty Hunter". I loved the movie. The only thing that would have made it better would be if Matt was there watching it with me, and snuggling in the pink slanket as we like to do (honey, admit it. :) ). Anyway, it was a great movie. We went out to an Italian Place, Terra Mia, and had dinner. On the way home, Ron and Suzanne were playing "Punch Dub". It was HI-LAR-IOUS! I was laughing my head off. It was so nice to see them flirting and playing. That reminds me of Matt and I. We are always laughing and picking at each other. It makes me so happy to see marriage, even after 34 years, can still be fun, enlightening, and happy. It doesn't always have to be "business" or "grown up".

I know that I have married in to a wonderful family. They have shared goals, morals, values, and the caring, sharing and loving that they share is wonderful. I love that I feel as much a part of their family as anyone. This is technically only the 5th time I have "met" them in person, but since Day 1, I have felt like I belong.

With all that being said, I also need to mention how much I love my own family, and our ways of life as well. I love that Matt can feel as much involved and part of my family as he does with his own as well. I can't wait to share more of that with him also.

This trip has been such an awesome relief from the day to day countdown of Matt coming home. I, of course, am still counting down, but I definitely feel as if it is a little easier, and I have all the support and love I need from good friends and family. I love you all!

Good night. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wagstaff Family Time

This week, I am in Utah, visiting Matt's family. So far, we have had a great time, and have more planned. More pictures to come as the week continues.

When I got to the airport, I was picked up in style! Ron brought his new Corvette. Boy can that thing fly! It is a gorgeous hunter green. It feels really low after being in Matt's truck, or even my car, but it is fast!

On Sunday, we went to Jason and Amanda's. I got to see baby Addison for the first time! She is so sweet! I also got to play with Makayla and Kaden for a bit. They wanted to play hide and seek. It was so much fun! I need to get another closer picture of Addison. She is absolutely beautiful! Of course, I also want to get some pictures of the rest of the family as well, so that Matt can see them on the blog or Facebook or something. I will be sure to get those this week as well.

On Saturday, we get to go to a Bridal Expo for the new bride-to-be! Cassie and D are getting married next spring/summer, when Matt gets home. I am so happy for them! I didn't get a picture of Kacey yet, either. They were having so much fun playing!

Of course, we have eaten a lot. That is good. I told Suzanne that I get to eat what I want this week. When I get home, then it is really time for me to buckle down, as we officially have a midtour date, and we are hoping to go somewhere tropical for our delayed honeymoon. Luckily, the food that we have eaten has been pretty healthy. Well, other than the super pies that we have been eating, but that is okay. All in moderation, right?
Anyway, I am excited to get more pictures to share. This has been a great time so far. It is so nice to see Matt's family. I have missed him, of course, but it has been easier this week with his family around. It is so great to see them all! I am so lucky that I feel such a part of his family, even when he is not here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today was a good, good day

Finally! A good, good day. Good at work, good after work, and tonight, I think we just might win at Trivia! If we do, then I am just going to by a lotto ticket.!

Today, I placed several students. Thank GOODNESS!!! I was getting more and more ancy as each day went by. I have been swamped and at my wits end with work, busier than I can imagine being. It isn't just me either. Our whole team is swamped. Boy, does it feel good to get some of that weight taken off, by simply having someone say "Yes". It is even better when it is several at the same time! :)

After work, I went out and fixed what I had already fixed once on the fence. Matt put in a new driveway, and a gate for the truck to fit in the backyard so that we had extra parking for April while he was gone. Also, so that his truck wasn't always out in the open. He also put in a gate for the lawnmower to actually fit through. My honey is so fabulous! Anyway, one of my projects for the summer is to put up new, matching panels for the fence. Well, April and I got motivated this weekend and put it up. We put up twelve panels before it got dark. Each panel was perfectly level...with itself...We thought that would work, because the yard goes up in a hill. Yeah, didn't look so good.

So, yesterday, I put out a line that would help me see the grade of the hill, and mount the panels accordingly. That helped it look MUCH better. I talked to Matt last night, and asked him how he spaced out the panels. He said he butted them up together. Sigh. So, today, I took them all down, again, and butted them up together. Those were twelve panels.

I managed, in one and a half hours, to put up all of the panels for the side of the fence. And, get this, it looks GREAT! They are level, butted up together, and even increase with the grade of the fence. Pictures to come soon. I want to finish the back side of it before I get pictures up.

Anyway, it feels so good to accomplish stuff like this. It feels good to have "progress". I feel sad and lonely sometimes, but I know that Matt would be proud of these silly little accomplishments that would take him one time to figure out. Oh well. Now, when I do the other, longer side of the fence, I will have this all figured out!

So, wish us luck at Trivia tonight. If we win, I am all about a Lotto Ticket!!! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More friends leaving today.

Matt has been gone for three weeks today. This has been easier than I thought, but also way harder than I thought. That doesn't make sense, really, except to me, I guess.

Today, many of our friends will be leaving. My friends' spouses will be leaving, but also Trina will be leaving today. Trina has become such a great friend. She is always there when needed, and it makes me feel good that she will be over there with Matt, as I know that she would look out for him, sort of like I would, just to make sure that he has a good friend there. She is such a beautiful person with a smile that will make his days go a little better, too. I feel good that he is over there, to be her friend, and someone for her to talk to and to lift her spirits as well. She amazes me every day because she has been through a rough couple years. Somehow, she is still the one who is always first to smile, and first to offer assistance if she sees a friend in need. It is truly amazing. Trina had to leave her husband and two kids. See? Simply amazing.

The husband of a good friend of mine also leaves today. Actually, she was the first friend I met here. They just had a baby during his time home. I just can't imagine doing this with kids. Kudos to all military families with kids. Both those leaving, and those staying behind, that have to always hold it together, for the kids. You are truly the strongest of the strong.

More friends and spouses of friends are leaving today also, and also later this week. I just wish everyone the best, and I guess I want everyone to know that I am here if anyone needs anything, even if we haven't known each other for too long. I think that our strength together is so much more than individually. The support that I have had over the past several weeks has been what has helped me through this time, and I am ready to offer it to others as well.

Tonight, I get to hang out with another couple who are friends of Matt and mine. The wife of this couple is also leaving this week. I wish we all could have spent more time together during the time home, but at the same time, these precious 12 months of spending with your loved one prior to them leaving again, it is hard to give up your time together, knowing that this is all you have for a while. Gosh, have I mentioned yet that the soldiers and their families and loved ones truly are an inspiration?

Paige's husband will also be leaving this week. She has been one of the strongest supports of me throughout Matt's deployment, and even before. She and her husband have been through so many deployments and separations, they are nearly pros at this. Let me tell you, it doesn't seem to get easier the more you go through, even if you are a pro. They have a son as well that John will have to leave. The time leading up to the departure is almost worse than the actual goodbye, but of course no one wants to let their loved ones go. I just hope that she knows I want to be here for her every bit as much as she was there for me.

Anyway, I guess I should end my entry for today. I am sad for the separations of families that are taking place. I am thankful, happy and proud of the soldiers that are defending us and our freedoms, and protecting our country and our values. I am amazed and proud of the families that are left behind, having to be strong throughout the deployment. The strength that you have is what allows us to have our lives the way we do. When you take a moment to stop and think about all the people that those in our military protect, it is mind boggling. The sacrifices that are made are amazing. Thank you all for your service, and thank you all for everything that you do. Hero is an understatement for the military personnel as well as the families left behind. THANK YOU.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Missing Him- My Own Little Selfish World

I wanted to blog about our spa day. I really did. I actually wrote one, and was waiting for my pictures to upload, but then lost it when I actually was trying to upload the pictures. Now, I think I need another spa day, ha ha.

Of course the spa day was good, and relaxing, and a wonderful time with the girls. That was great. However, I think that it jiggled my "strength" away. I think that I was so strong because I was so stressed. Maybe a constant "I have to deal with this" feeling. The spa day seemed to have relaxed me enough to allow me to let it go. I wish now that maybe I could go back to "strong". Strong was easier.

Matt didn't call me at all this weekend. He couldn't call me at all. I have gotten so spoiled and used to him calling. I couldn't help but feel a bit of anger, and maybe a little bit forgotten. I know that is not what it was, but that is how I was feeling. I also had feelings of guilt for being angry. How selfish of me.

Reisa, one of my saving graces, called me on Sunday morning, and told me that the phone lines were down where Matt was at. That made me feel better, and less angry I guess. I talked with Paige, and Trina, and of course April about it. We had an issue during our Saturday night girls night, so the Blue Ray player wasn't working. John and Paige came over and John fixed it. That was very nice. Well, the video in the blue ray was of our wedding pictures, those that we had had throughout the years, and a compilation of those that we had together. I have watched this since he left, but yesterday, decided I wanted to watch it. It then became a weird addiction. These pictures are all I have of him right now. So, I watched it seven times. I laughed the first time, cried the next time, laughed, cried....

I know they say don't watch the news. You shouldn't look at the news, or read the news. I have been pretty good about that, because I don't want to know what is happening over there, and because I try to heed the advice of those who have done this before. I am an incredibly anxious, and worrisome person. I was not going to watch it. After I talked with Reisa, and Paige and Trina yesterday, I got on the internet to email Matt and tell him how I was feeling, and that I loved him, and that I knew that he couldn't contact me just yet. On my home page, the first article- bomb in Khandahar. I had to read it. I only read long enough to know that no soldiers were killed. I knew he was safe anyway, even when reading it, but it hit me....hard....I guess it was the first real realization that I had had that he wasn't just over there being bored. He was over where there war was taking place. People were getting hurt, people were dying. I knew this in my head the whole time, of course, but it became more real to me.

Talking to the girls, they have all gone through this before, they seem to understand, but they seem to deal with it so much stronger than I did. I called my mom, because I didn't want to bother anyone with my "freakout", but I had to get it out. I messaged my brother, a flight engineer for the Navy, who had some consoling words. He has been there, and could offer me consolation about what Matt was probably thinking or feeling. I can't help but be upset with myself. Here I am, worried and sad and scared and angry at this stupid war. Matt and the other soldiers, are over there, in the midst of all of this, and they just carry on as I would for my job. My job that the largest risk I have is some stranger yelling at me. They have to be strong, courageous, and they have to carry on their days with a clear head, and they have to supress all their worry, sadness, fear and anger. They can't risk having a "freakout", as it would put their lives, and others' lives, in danger. They don't get a spa day to relax, or they don't get to have a drink to help console them. They just do what they have to do.

Today, I tried to work. I could not get out of bed (well, the couch, because I could not sleep in my bed last night). When I did, I tried to work, but could not take my mind off of it, could not clear my head and focus on what I had to do. I had to stop. I was no good to anyone if I kept "trying". Matt doesn't get a day off. He doesn't get to call in because he "can't take it today".

How selfish of me. How incredibly, horribly selfish of me.

I did get to talk to him last night. He told me he was okay. All I could do was cry and tell him how horrible the day was for me, that I didn't hear from him, and that I was scared. How freaking selfish. Boo freaking hoo. Now he has to think all day that I am here sad. On top of everything else he has to worry about.

So, I might have these days in the future, I am sure that I will. But, I am going to do my darndest to keep it to myself.

I am sorry, honey, for upsetting you. I am sorry that I have been so self-centered, when you are over there not just for you, not just for me, but for everyone in this country, fighting this stupid war. I want you to come home now. I love you, baby. I miss you so much.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gettin' Things Done

Last night, April and I were very, very productive. We finally got the living room, office, garage and her room organized to where it looks like we live in a house again, rather than a storage space. How exciting! We can actually turn on the television now, without the remote sensors being blocked by piles of stuff. I think this will be really helpful to her as well, because she can start working again, and also knows where her stuff is!
One of our projects was the hang the Wall Mount for her television in her bedroom. "We can do this", I said. So, we went and got all of the tools that we would need (plus some, apparently). We opened the directions and got to work. Funny thing about the directions is that there were no written directions. It was just pictures. That actually made things more difficult, but we figured it out.
We drilled 13/16" holes in the wall for the wall swing arm mount. Let me go back. We first measured, leveled, marked, and then predrilled holes. We did also use the stud finder, but apparently it is not exactly correct. As you can see by the first picture, there was one casualty in the wall. We then went to the old "knock on the wall" trick, as well as the stud finder. That worked better. :)
By using our "picture book directions", we attached the mount to the TV, and then hung it on the swing arm mount. Actually, the only real problem we ran in to was to get the nut to go on the screw that attached the swing arm to the TV mount. And, I think that was mostly because someone had bought the item and returned it, and they put grease or something all over the inside of the attachment, which made the nut slippery.
The one tool that we forgot to get was the socket wrench. I asked April to go find it in the tool box. I said "can you go get me the Crescent Wrench". She looks at me blankly. "You know, the one that goes qchqchqch." She knew exactly what I meant. This is how she and I work so well together! :) (And yes, we know now that it is a Socket Wrench!)
We had a good time with this project, and felt very accomplished. Her television is now on the wall in her room, and it is not going anywhere! I think we should start a "HandyWoman" business! ha ha.
I do have to thank my sweetheart for the stuff that I learned from him. There is no way I would have even attempted this project if I hadn't been working with him on other projects where I learned how to do some stuff, and also where I gained some confidence, especially for drilling big holes in to walls! I love you, sweetie!