I guess the best place to start is the beginning.
I have been with my husband for 12 years, his hideous backpack and amazing smile caught my eye on day one, Freshman year at UTK....4 years later we had our first date. Maybe it was the ugly backpack comments that caused the delay, Hmm...who knows? At some point I had told Shaun if I could get engaged anywhere it would be somewhere in the Florida Keys, any Key would do, I wasn't picky.... On the evening of August 15th 2001, he proposed on the beach in Key West. I decided he was a good listener and said, "Yes!"
We will be married 10 years in June.
The first year was a roller coaster of new, exciting beginnings, painful losses and A LOT of U-hauls. Two weeks after we got married we packed up everything and moved 14 hours away from everything and everyone we knew.
I would say this was hard but, for a couple of kids it was just an adventure. It wasn't planned but it ended up being, quite possibly, one of the best moves newlyweds could have made. When you are broke and a days drive from everyone you could or would run to, you figure out REALLY quickly how to work through petty arguments and how to deal with the big ones before they get TOO big. Although our stay up north was short, it is and always will be a very treasured time in my heart.
As with all roller coasters, what goes up must come down.
On the morning of August 15th, 2001, the day that he proposed, Shaun had found out his Dad had been diagnosed with Lung Cancer. I would find out many years later (roughly 10, you do the math.) that he almost didn't propose that night on the beach.
Mack was battling the cancer when we left for our great adventure.
Mack Jenkins was a wonderful man. He lit up a room with his humor and friendliness. His wittiness would double you over with laughter and he would ALWAYS make you smile, no matter what the situation...'cue the deer'.
In early-September we made the decision to move back to Tennessee so we could spend a few more months with Mack. We got one....
Mack passed away on Oct 30th, 2002.
We were lost. Shaun was trying to deal with losing his best friend, his greatest role-model, his Dad. I was trying to figure how to help him. We were both lost....incredibly lost.
How can a 23 year old, new wife help her husband deal with emotions that she didn't understand, and truth be told 10 years later I still have trouble understanding/explaining?
We struggled, we tried to make the best out of the situation. You know the situation, married 5 months with 2 major moves and one heart wrenching loss under our belt. We bought a condo and tried to make the best of our new jobs, which with both hated, and tried to deal with all the emotions. Sounds like enough right?!?!
I thought so...God didn't.
We signed the paperwork on our new/first condo on Dec 31st. Shaun was fired on Jan. 5th....NOW WHAT?
It turned out he was fired for talking to another company about a new and better job...which he didn't get...
Now we were dealing with a new marriage, two major moves, a devastating loss, one minor move, a mortgage & unemployment....and we were only 7 months into this new life. This breathtaking, eye opening, somewhat nauseating new life.
It's funny, that is how the most amazing roller coasters start; a slow pull up to an amazing view right before the bottom drops out and all hell breaks lose. We scream, we close our eyes and pray that it is almost over, then we start to relax, a little, trusting that the safety equipment will work, but we don't let go.
We get off the roller coaster and think, 'That wasn't that bad' and get back in line to ride again. But this time we know the safety equipment will work and we let go, A LITTLE, and smile, A LITTLE. We still close our eyes, but kind of enjoy the ride. The next time we get in line we are excited knowing that we will survive. This time we really let go we scream at the top of our lungs, not out of fear but of pure joy, we laugh the kind of laugh that makes you realize you have abs (and in my case they are weak). Then we let go....FULLY....arms out stretched, knowing that we will be okay and with each peak and valley we are stronger and more confident and we can FINALLY have utter confidence that no matter what comes next.....
I am going to be okay.
And to Charlotte we went!
The last part of the first year got better, it smoothed out. If only briefly. We managed to find an apartment, stay put and try to process the previous months. I don't think that Shaun and I experienced anything that made us special but we did grow up fast, learn to trust each other and acknowledge life isn't easy and it owes us nothing.
Somethings never change, life is complicated. But in those painful, gut wrenching experiences you find yourself, your friends and, most importantly, you find what gives you your strength.
Now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.