Guest post by Jessica Allen, Blogger at The War of a Wounded Warrior Wife
I love the month of February. For my husband, Chaz, and me it is a very special time of year. We were married on February 23, 2001, so every February we take a little trip down memory lane and remember the anniversaries that we’ve had together, even though we actually haven’t had that many together since meeting and beginning our journey almost 13 years ago.
I met Chaz the day he pinned on his Private First Class rank in 1999. Chaz proposed after he received orders to deploy to Kosovo in the summer of 2000. We agreed to wait until after he returned from his first deployment to get married and we said “I do” just a week after he returned. The 11 years since then have been full of smiles and lots of joy, and being blessed with two precious daughters has made the years even better for both of us. But, even with all the good times, military marriages are no stranger to sacrifice. Chaz has been gone for more than half of our anniversaries including our second and third, which Chaz spent on tour in South Korea , and then our fifth anniversary, which he spent in Iraq. We have tried hard to make our anniversaries together special, but our 10th
anniversary might be the best one thus far.
[caption id="attachment_3388" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Happy Valentine's Day from "Team Allen" - Chaz, Jessica and their daughters Deryn (9) and Ryann (6)."]
On January 22, 2011, while on a dismounted patrol in the Zhari district of Afghanistan, Chaz stepped on an IED and detonated it. He lost both of his legs instantly, and could have lost his right arm, too, but the medics, pilots, surgeons, nurses and staff all performed their duties to the best of their abilities and not only got Chaz back to us, but also saved that right arm.
Our 10th anniversary was spent in Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) with Chaz an in-patient and us dining on Popeye’s fried chicken. Chaz was still in a lot of pain, but he had just gotten his appetite back so I let him choose our anniversary dinner, and the medical staff gave us the anniversary present of a surgery-free day. Some friends procured a TV and DVD player for us, so we were able to watch a movie together as well. It was simple and absolutely perfect. I am beyond thankful that we had a 10th anniversary to celebrate at all.
This month we celebrate our 11th year together. I have no idea what we’ll be doing but I can guarantee you we will not be near the hospital (at least not that evening) and Popeye’s chicken will not be involved. We will do something simple like dinner and a movie out somewhere.
We’ve had the honor of being a Wounded Warrior Family for over a year now. It has been an amazing year full of blessing after blessing. We have used the blessings of the past year to show people that no enemy can ever control your destiny. We have shown that you control your life and the words you speak will light your path. Over the course of the past year, we have shown our daughters the true meaning of faith, hope and love. As a family, we have defined resiliency. I am proud of our journey to our new normal.
I am also proud and grateful that this month we have another Valentine’s Day and our 11th wedding anniversary to celebrate together. This month we will praise the love that has brought us this far, and we hope that our story of love will brighten someone else’s day.