3 years ago today I said goodbye to an amazing man that I loved dearly. He was on his way to war but even that couldn't wipe the smile off his face. I remember we sat in the little building on post, with our friends Eric Edstrom and Lindsay Marchbanks, as Tyler played around on his guitar and strummed favorite songs by Johnny Cash
He was ready to walk into the future and tackle whatever came his way. After about and hour of waiting on post they announced that we had a few last few seconds to say goodbye. Tyler packed up his guitar and as we said our final goodbye in the rain I clung to the last grasp of his fingers and then he slung his weapon over his shoulder and joined formation. He was was right in front of me but he was gone.
I stood there, as though the rain froze me in place, and watch him as he became part of a sea of ACUs and weapons. For a few seconds I lost him in the group of men but then finally there he was- with a smile still grinning from ear to ear. I will never understand what makes a man excited to go off to war, but what I do know is that it takes character to face an unknown future with a smile on your face.
I didn't know that morning what was in my future, or that that moment was my last goodbye in person to Tyler. I didn't know that barely 4 months later I would have to say the hardest goodbye I've ever had to utter to someone who was already gone.
We never know what is in our future, and I've spent the past 3 years trying to learn how to live more in the moment, as Tyler did. He was sure and steadfast in his faith in God. When I think back on conversations that we had I can't help but wonder how much of what he said to me was him, or God talking through him. His words before deployment and letters throughout deployment were full of strength, hope, and peace.He was always reminding me to place my trust in God and "enjoy the journey of life".
I have struggled many days since we lost Tyler in Afghanistan, but I have also seen the Lord pour blessings over my life. I remember the very first words I managed to say to my family the day after we lost Tyler and I flew home to Virginia. As they all huddled around and cried with me all I could say was that there was nobody else out there for me. There was nobody that could love me the same and understand me the same. My heart was shattered and I couldn't see how there ever would be hope for a future with love...
Tyler told me something very important a few days before he left. He looked me square in my eyes, only inches away, put both hands on my shoulders, and said: " Meg, if something happens and I don't come back I want you to find a man that loves you as much as I do. You need someone that will support you and push you to do all that you are able to do. Find someone that will encourage you to do something with your writings and help you pursue your dreams...". I was so emotional during this conversation that my mind wandered elsewhere while he was talking and I can now only remember bits and pieces of the rest of what he said. What is important though is that he set free with that conversation. He prepared my heart for what was ahead and he planted a seed in my heart that would one day be able to bloom into a love for someone else.
That someone else is now my husband of almost 4 months. 'Kiwi' is everything I was so determined wasn't out there for me, and everything I know Tyler would (and did) wish for me to have in this life on earth. My husband is my rock and my forever. Now that I can look back, I believe God placed Tyler in my life to help prepare me for who he had planned for me to live life with all along. I can't claim to know all the reasons things happened the way they did, but I do know that Tyler was in my life for very specific reasons. He made me stronger, challenged me to dig deeper into my faith, made me laugh, made me cry, taught me to trust a man again, made me feel beautiful, with God's help he restored my self worth, and he helped me understand God's heart just a little more each day. He made me come alive and feel again after going through so many bad relationships and shutting myself down. He made me strong again. He helped me be what my name means- 'strong at heart'. In the year that we were together he prepared me for my future without even knowing it.
I now have an incredible man that I am blessed to call my husband and I have a future I can walk into with him. He is loving, patient, supportive of my writing, encourages me to follow my dreams, and is always there for me. He loves me despite my "uglies" and is more than I ever dreamed I would have in my life. Kiwi is truly the answer to many wordless prayers that were simply cries from my soul.
I still have sad days and moments when I miss Tyler, but I remind myself that this is not the end and I will see him again one day. Here and now though I will continue to live my life just as he asked me to do that day; and I am beyond blessed to walk this earth hand in hand with my adoring husband.
Living with purpose, faith, and love,