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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!