Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Red, White, and Blue Elephant


This is my second article for Blue Star Families and I'm really excited to get it off my chest.

Its about the day every little girl dreams off...




The Red, White, and Blue Elephant


I didn’t invite the military to my wedding, but it came anyway. The decision to get married before Iraq had been a sudden one. I had less than two months to pull together my “dream” wedding. I used the word “dream” loosely because is it ever a bride’s dream to watch her groom walk away from her with an M249 strapped across his shoulder after one week of marriage? One good thing and bad thing about having so little time to plan was that once a decision was made, that was it. No last minute changes. Everything was last minute. I told my soldier that it was up to him whether or not we had an official military wedding. He declined because “The military is going to run our lives for the next twenty years. I want our wedding to be just for us.”


So that was that. The military wasn’t invited. But on Christmas Eve 2005 two 19 year-olds exchanged vows with a big red, white and blue elephant in the room. It was there on the solemn faces of our friends and family—some of which had begged me to post-pone the wedding so I “wouldn’t risk being a young widow.” It was in the quickening of my teenage pulse as the Pastor said the words “as long as you both shall live.” And it reared its ugly head as we made special pinky-swears to each other. We said things like “I promise I’ll come home in a year.” And “I’ll be waiting for you to return.”


Last month we went to a friend’s wedding and on the way home I confessed some things to my husband. I told him that I hate weddings now because it reminds me of my regrets from our own nuptials. Of course I’ll never regret the who or the when of our marriage, but I have regretted the how.


“We did it wrong!” I complained to my husband as we drove down country roads after the outdoor ceremony. “We should have done the popular thing and had a courthouse ceremony and then had a real dream military wedding when you returned victoriously from combat.”


At least then the elephant would have been wearing some shiny brass and I would have gotten my “Welcome to the Army” sword swat.


His response surprised me, but then again, I don’t know what I was expecting. “I thought of that, but I knew what my job would be over there. No matter what, I wanted you to have the wedding you deserved.”


“What good did that really do us? I don’t even like looking at my own wedding pictures! What kind of bride doesn’t like photos of her glowing in a designer gown with an adoring man on her arm?”


Now he was caught off guard. “You don’t like our wedding pictures?”


“Well, I don’t hate them. We had a beautiful wedding. But those pictures give me my kind of flashbacks. I don’t see a happy couple starting their lives together. I see the depression, anxiety, and loneliness that were going to be our first year of marriage. I want to look at wedding pictures and feel all warm and fuzzy! I get that from your homecoming pictures. That was the start of our life together….don’t you ever want a wedding do-over?”


He took his hand off the gearshift, and held mine up for a kiss.


“No. Because when I look at our wedding pictures I see a very innocent couple literally taking on the world together. And isn’t that what marriage is all about anyways?”


I couldn’t help but smile back at him. I guess our military-non-military-wedding was perfect after all. Any day, any conditions, I’ll stand proudly by my soldier—and that red, white, and blue elephant—ready to take on the world. Together.









30 comments:

Emily said...

Ok I won't deny it. That made me tear up a bit. That is such a sweet article!

Julie the Army Wife said...

What a beautiful post. I imagine how hard it was to know that you would have to be apart. *hugs* My husband and I were married for over 3 years before he joined the military but it was also the end of 2005.

lola said...

LOVE the article! And the picture? I see lots of love!

Hubby and I didn't have a deployment staring us down, but rather Ranger School. We spent our "honeymoon" sorting through his packing list and he reported exactly 1 week later! :)

JG said...

This is too sweet. I have similar feelings about my wedding, but obviously for different reasons.

Beth said...

Great article. I bet there are quite a few military couples who feel the same way about their wedding day!

Whitney said...

This was beautiful!

Lisa said...

Oh my goodness what an amazing post! You brought tears to my eyes, and I love that photo of the two of you loving each other.

Brigette said...

Your posts always make me tear up you write everything in such a beautiful way. :)

Mateya said...

What a great post! I can only imagine your feelings, but your husband is so right....those feelings you were having that day were real and why not embrace them because they made you the people and the couple that you are today!

ACU's and ABC's said...

That made me tear up to :) We pulled off a wedding in 4 months before my hubby deployed and it was a non-military/military wedding too!

Alexis said...

We got married April 6, 2007, three weeks to the day before Bobby deployed to Iraq for 15 months. And we only had gotten engaged Feb 12, 2007! So I totally understand how you feel! We didn't have a military wedding either, although the Battalion Chaplain did marry us, but not in uniform. We had hoped to have a big wedding when he returned, but so far the military and life have gotten in the way. And here we are three years later, with a new baby and still no wedding at home like we planned. Someday I hope....

The Neffs said...

Great post. Such a sweet story.

Amanda said...

how beautiful!! this is a great post.
and your hubby is so sweet!

{Amanda} said...

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* http://donandamanda.blogspot.com *

chambanachik said...

I loved it!

Mrs. Doc Handsome said...

That was a beautiful article. Your writing is lovely. And you also stole the words right out of my mouth. This is how I feel about our wedding. When I look at all our wedding pictures I think what a sad time it was. My husband was about to leave his 14 week pregnant wife for a year and not return till our son was 4 months old. I was devastated and that's all I see in our pictures. Thank you for writing this. Yet again you've brought tears to my eyes =]

Expat Girl said...

Ok so I just cried!

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

I totally teared up! So precious!

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Thanks!

Ashley said...

Beautiful! We didn't have a military wedding either. My husband was in BT and then tech school while I planned our wedding. Then I got a phone call one night telling me that we were moving overseas and that we needed to move the wedding up. We got married one weekend and off to England the next. But we got married before 9/11 so there wasn't the treat of war. That came 3 1/2 months later. I was then officially ordained as a military wife!!

covnitkepr1 said...

Pray for his saftey. Visit my blog and look down the right hand side to see what I think of our service people. I'm a veteran.
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Jessica said...

beautiful post...totally teared up

♥Miss Brittney♥ said...

This was such a good article! My husband and I were in a simialr situation when we got married, only he wasn't leaving for a deployment. He was just starting out and going to bootcamp three weeks after we said "I do." We decided to have our big wedding before he left because we both knew that the military lifestyle is very uncertain, and we know so many friends who got married before and never got to have their dream wedding because of how much things change all the time in the military. I'm so glad we decided to do it that way instead of going to a courthouse and then having a big dream wedding later because my husband hasn't been home (other than leave) since he left for bootcamp last October. We have been married for ten months now and have spent nearly the entire time of our marriage apart. We never thought that he would get deployed right away after a-school, but he did so I don't regret having our big wedding before hand. Its been tough spending the first year of our marriage apart, but I know once we are reunited our relationship will only be that much stronger. :)

Radiant Readhead said...

Very sweet!! I love it!! he sounds so sweet, and a deployment is ONE of the hardest things a couple will go through, and you guys did it very early on in your marriage and survived! that says alot about you guys as a couple. I say ONE of the hardest, cause my hubby and I went through a deployment, and THOUGHT that would be the hardest thing, and just recently found out what is harder, but that is a seperate story:) I LOVE reading your blogs! they bring smiles and tears to my eyes at the same time b/c they remind me a lot of our expereinces:)

L.C. said...

Love this post. Absolutely beautiful. And I feel the same way. We didn't do a military wedding and ours wasn't as rushed, but he left shortly after.

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Wife on the Roller Coaster said...

Great post! I saw this on Blue Star yesterday. LOVE the picture.

Just wanted you to know that I'm not ignoring your email...it's just been a crazy few days...you know how it goes. I'll write you back tomorrow. ;)

Stephanie Hartman said...

Aw I Loved it...

Star Spangled said...

That was a sweet and touching article. You are a beautiful writer.

Jessa said...

I thought when we decided to drop our plans to have an all out Vegas extravaganza for a courthouse wedding and small reception that I'd regret it and look back and think, "why???". Instead? We decided that just for us we're going to renew our vows Vegas style and have an awesome good time getting to "do it all over again." We had a week together before he went back to Korea, so I relate. It was glorious and sucky all at the same time. Great post.