“AJ and I grew up in the same town, in the same neighborhood but officially met when I was 15, and he was 16. It was fall 2012, our homecoming dance in our small towns high school gymnasium. I went to the dance with some friends, AJ’s younger sister and AJ went with a date. He and his date ended up getting into an argument while at the dance so he came over to talk to his sister and tell her he was leaving. Despite being an extremely shy person I got a random burst of confidence and blurted out ‘I can be your date for the rest of the night!’ AJ accepted my offer and we awkwardly danced and talked the rest of the night! A few days after the dance, his sister texted me and gave me his phone number, and we haven’t gone a day without talking up until he went to basic training for the US Army.
About 2 years into our relationship AJ enlisted into the US Army. This was something he had wanted to do since he was a young boy. I knew before we even started dating this was a part of his plan. He said it was his way of doing something great. Though I was very nervous and scared for him to leave, I fully supported him and knew it would make our relationship stronger.
Just before he left, on March 10th, 2015, he took me to a place in our home town where we spent a lot of time and got down on his knee and asked me to marry him! Though still being a senior in high school I of course said yes! Because I was still in school, my family told me I needed to fully think it through because I was young but they knew it was coming. He and I were inseparable, there was no way we wouldn’t get married!
He shipped out to basic training on March 16 and he was gone a total of six months for training. Watching him leave was one of the most difficult times in my life. He got on the bus and headed off and I bawled my eyes out as I watched the bus drive off. I missed school the next couple days because I was so upset about watching him leave, knowing I wouldn’t have any contact with him. Those couple of months were some of the hardest in my life. The first couple of months we could only communicate through written letters. Every single day when I got home from school I would check my mailbox, hoping for a letter. Every time I would get a letter I’d be overfilled with joy and read my letter right in my car\ and cry with tears of joy. During his training I was pretty alone. I never had many friends in school and I wasn’t very close with my family. I ended up spending a lot of my time in church, going to bible study a couple times a week as well as the service on Sunday.
Once he was done with basic training there was a graduation ceremony at his base. His mom, dad, sister, and I loaded up in the car and drove 17 hours to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to see him for the first time in about 3 months! Finally seeing him again for the first time was a feeling I cannot put into words. I felt like a piece of me had been put back together and I was whole again. We spent what little time we had talking about our wedding, cuddling, and just soaking up every second we had together, as we knew it would inevitably come to an end.
The day of his graduation was the same day as my high school graduation. I chose to skip walking across the stage for my own high school graduation to go visit my future husband. That is a decision I will never regret. The moment of reuniting with the love of my life was worth all the time apart, missing my graduation, and any other trying situations during that time. Only two days after being reunited we had to say goodbye once more. AJ had to finish the rest of his training to become an Army medic. It was okay though because the next time we would be reunited, we would be getting married! Three more months passed and I found myself waiting at the airport waiting for my husband to be! I was so incredibly anxious to finally be in the arms of the love of my life again! When I first saw him I almost didn’t recognize him’ He was so skinny and had different hair than the last time I had seen him’ Tears instantly rushed down my face and I ran over to him and hugged him like I never wanted to let him go!
On September 21st, 2015, I got married to my very best friend! We were young, we didn’t have much money or help, and we paid for our wedding completely on our own. Though it was a small wedding with just our immediate family and closest friends, it was the most beautiful, special day ever and I wouldn’t change anything about it! The ceremony was very small and intimate with just our loved ones to help us celebrate. After the ceremony we went to a beautiful restaurant on the water and laughed and spent time with our families as a whole, knowing it was going to be one of the last times we would do that for a while. AJ had to report to his duty station and our new home, which was ironically the same place he did his basic training, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Two weeks later and I followed him in my PT cruiser.
The move was very difficult for me. I had an extremely hard time adjusting to being over a thousand miles away from my family and friends. The move sent me into a spiral mentally and at the same time is when my health started declining. After a couple of months of struggling I was diagnosed with severe anxiety, depression, OCD and anorexia. I was in an extremely bad place mentally. But AJ was always there for me. He has always been the only consistent thing in my life. Through every panic attack he held me. When I was getting too skinny he made sure the house would be stocked up with foods that I liked even if he knew I wouldn’t eat them. He would spend countless hours talking to me, trying to help me not feel as sad, even if he didn’t say anything at all and just listen to me cry, he was there.
I was struggling so bad mentally my doctor wanted to admit me to a mental health facility. But at one of my routine lab draws, we found out I was pregnant. I was absolutely terrified. I was in no place to have a baby. I could hardly take care of myself, let alone care for a baby. After weeks of contemplation we ultimately decided the best option for me was to get an abortion. We drove three hours away to an abortion clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When we arrived, there were pro life protesters yelling things at me. AJ held my hand and walked me into the clinic. We were there for three hours filling out paperwork and going through all of the protocols of the clinic. Then it came time to pay. I just froze. I couldn’t hand the woman my debit card to pay for this service I was going to receive. She left the room and gave AJ and I a few minutes to talk, and as soon as she left the room we looked at each other and we knew we needed to leave. We didn’t say anything, we just looked at each other and we knew we needed to leave. We gathered our things and left. We were scared, but we knew it was the right choice. Once we were in the car, we talked about how we both felt a very bad feeling in the clinic. Something wasn’t sitting right with either of us. As we drove off, it felt like a weight lifted off of our shoulders.
The following weeks things started looking up. I had slowly but surely overcame most of the struggles I was facing mentally. I never ended up on medication or in therapy, thanks to this baby. I did it all on my own for her. Knowing I had to be strong for this baby had saved my life. Even through all of that AJ was there. He held me through any panic attack, he held my had while at the clinic, he held my hand during child birth. He has always been my biggest supporter. During the pregnancy I had my share of ups and downs, but the further along I got, the more excited I got. Once I felt the baby kick for the first time I almost instantly lost any anxiety I had about having the baby. Of course I was nervous to give birth, nervous to be a mother, but never once did I regret the choice of continuing my pregnancy.
Here we are today, we now have a two year old daughter and a three month old son! With my pregnancies came illness. About a year after having my daughter I was diagnosed with Lupus. About a week after receiving my diagnosis I found out I was pregnant with my son! Pregnancy was rough on my body but AJ helped me so much. From getting up with our daughter and cleaning the house to holding me while I cried in pain, he was there for me.
After giving birth to my son I received a diagnosis of hyper mobile Elhers Danlos syndrome. Though I just received this diagnosis, I had been dealing with it my whole life. Pregnancy has made the symptoms worse and more frequent, as well as it sent my lupus into a several week long flare. Every day is a struggle for me. I often times feel like I am failing as a mother because I am often too sick to do a lot of things. Some days I will be so fatigued I can’t get out of bed and my husband will have to make my daughter her breakfast, lunch, and dinner that day. Or some days my daughter will want to play with me and I’m unable to run around with her because I am in so much pain.
Some days I fear my health will get too bad and I may never feel okay. Every day for me is filled with pain and I’m terrified that one day it will become unbearable. AJ always assures me everything is going to be okay and he does everything in his power to make sure I am comfortable and know I am loved. I may wake up with a rash across my face and hives all over and AJ will still look at me and tell me how beautiful I am. Even on my sickest days he is assuring me I’m an amazing mother to our children, and that I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
AJ and I have been together nearly eight years at this point. When we first met we were young, I was ‘healthy’ and everything was great! It wasn’t until shortly after we had gotten married my health started declining. We’ve now gone through several moves, him going into the military, him getting out of the military, several children, and even still, the sicker I got, the more he was there for me. ER trips, doctors appointments, you name it, he’s always been there for me. All through my life, I’ve never had anything as consistent as his love for me. I don’t fully rely on him as my caretaker, but he does take care of me more than in most ‘normal’ relationships. He helps me so much from organizing and reminding me to take my medications, to advocating for my health and helping me get the proper care I need. Through all of the health problems I have endured, he has always been there for me and I know he always will be. I try my best to be there for him, I support his dreams and goals, but no matter what I do, I can never repay him for being such an amazing man to me. In sickness and in health, we are forever.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hannah Guess. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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