Nine years ago, on August 10th, 2002, I married my best friend in Wichita Falls, Texas. Wes was in Tech School. We had wanted to get married before Wes joined the Air Force, but Wes' recruiter convinced us not to because it would be too much paper work. We shouldn't have listened to him. We should have known that he didn't know what he was talking about the day he mentioned Wes would be spending most of his time on an aircraft carrier as a KC-135 Crewchief. We trusted his advice though and we didn't get married before Wes signed the dotted line. Instead, we planned a wedding for when Wes got out of Tech School and the date changed ten times before it became final. When we found out the difference in the allowance of weight to be moved from Atlanta to Spokane, and that it would be more difficult to process everything if I moved cross country with him without processing everything first (because we were way over the weight limit for a single airman with the amount of stuff we were moving), we decided to get married out in Texas so we could get all the paperwork done first. I am glad we did because it made moving to Spokane so much easier. We were EXCITED!!! I printed little invitations. I bought a dress at the mall and my mom sewed little flowers to the top and around the edge of the bottom to personalize it. My mom made me a little flower bouquet. My mom made a wreath for my hair and fixed my hair for me. My mom and I flew out to Texas a few days beforehand and rented a car. I was so excited to carry my little wedding dress on the plane with me and let everyone know I was getting married! My dad and brother flew out the morning of our wedding. My in-laws were less than enthusiastic about us getting married and neither of Wes' brothers attended our wedding. His parents made a trip out to see their family in Texas and stopped in for our wedding that morning. It was the most romantic little wedding ever and it was all I could have ever wished for. Nothing fancy, but very personal. The JOP who married us was a lovely lady and she talked about the adventures we would have as an Air Force couple. She spoke of shooting stars and chasing our dreams. She read a poem about making our lives our own as we grew old together. My brother recorded it all and burned it to a DVD for us as a wedding present. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding day to my best friend.
|Wes' parents on the left, Wes and I, my parents and brother on the right. Two of Wes' classmates in front.|
After our ceremony, Wes' parents left and went to their family's house. We went back to my parents' hotel and changed into normal clothes. I remember going back into the bathroom for my mom to help me change out of my wedding dress so that Wes didn't see me. Ha ha ha! We were only 20. I had JUST turned 20. We had never spent the night together before. We had never slept in a hotel together before. I didn't want Wes to see me change my clothes for the first time IN FRONT OF MY MOM!!! It's funny now to look back at how grown up we were at the age of 20, yet how young and innocent we still were. Wes and I played by the rules and followed our morals. We are proud to say that today.
Once changed into normal clothes, we went to Chili's to celebrate with my parents and brother. Wes and I shared a milkshake with sprinkles as our "wedding cake". All of a sudden the waitress at Chili's was giving us milkshakes with sprinkles and saying "Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs.!" We were so excited! I already loved being Mrs. Wesley Foster! I gave Wes my wedding gift to him. It was a custom Air Force watch. (Remember, we were brand new in the Air Force, back when everybody in gung-ho about Air Force stuff.) Wes then felt really bad that he hadn't gotten me a gift. Are you kidding? The weekend we got married was the first weekend Wes was allowed to spend the night off base! He did not have a car because it was given to his brother. How was he going to go out and buy me something? HE WAS MY GIFT!!!
Our wedding was on a Saturday, so we only had one night for a "honeymoon". My parents found one of the nicest hotels in Dallas and rented a room for us. We stayed at The Westin Galleria in Dallas. It was awesome. The hotel sat on top of a mall and ice skating rink. Our room was on one of the top levels and it was on a pass only entrance floor where we had to stick our card into the little slot on the elevator to be able to go up to that floor. Boy, did we feel important! There was a lounge on our floor, a private buffet, and amazing views of the city. I think we were the only people not old enough to drink alcohol staying on the floor. Who cares? We were married! That's all I cared about at that moment.
After settling in, Wes went down to the mall by himself and told me I couldn't go with him. He bought me the prettiest pair of little diamond stud earrings as a wedding present. I had never had diamond stud earrings, so I was thrilled at such a big present. To this day, they are still some of my favorite earrings.
We then went down to the mall together and walked around. We purchased our first camera together so that we could take pictures. It was only maybe $100, which seemed like a lot of money to us, so we bought the warranty to go with it and we took really good care of it over the years. If you know me, I am not a big spender at all. I felt guilty buying such a big purchase on our first night! Wes did not feel very well, so we skipped out on ice skating. We enjoyed a lovely dinner by candlelight delivered right to our room. It was the perfect night.
Our wedding was everything I could have dreamed of. It may seem small and insignificant to some, but it was perfect for us. Wes had to be back in school on Monday and when he got out of school, my mom and I joined him to do all my paperwork to make our marriage official in the Air Force. I enjoyed walking around Sheppard AFB with Wes as his wife and meeting his friends. I loved being introduced as his wife!
As exciting as our wedding was, our anniversaries have been just as exciting! We hardly get to celebrate our anniversary on the actual day because Wes has either been deployed, TDY, working, or in the last few years it's been that we've had family in the hospital. Some of our more exciting anniversaries have been spent at the Coeur d' Alene Resort in Idaho, renting a bed and breakfast cabin in Leavenworth, Washington, and renting a cabin at the bottom of Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho for the Brad Paisley concert and biking the entire mountain. Some of the not so exciting anniversaries have been with Sweet Pea in the ICU suffering from hepatic lipidosis, my dad in the ICU, and being away from Wes in Georgia while taking care of my grandmother at the end of her life.
Our first anniversary was spent for a week at the Couer d' Alene Resort on Lake Coeur d' Alene.
Another anniversary was spent at Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho where we saw Brad Paisley in concert and biked the entire mountain.
Another anniversary was spent in beautiful Leavenworth, Washington where we rented a bed and breakfast cabin. We had the cabin to ourselves and the owners brought us breakfast every morning to our doorstep. It was so nice!!
|The view off the back porch of our cabin.|
Since Wes was usually deployed on our actual anniversaries in Washington, I spent my days hiking with Blondie.
Three years ago, we purchased our house for our anniversary!
Some of our not so fun anniversaries:
Sweet Pea in the ICU with a naso-gastric tube for tube feedings:
My dad in the ICU: (this picture was actually taken later after he was taken off the ventilator and getting ready to be transported back to Georgia)
Taking care of my grandmother in Georgia right before she passed away. Wes and I spent that anniversary eating dinner with each other over the phone.
|The surprise birthday party my grandmother threw me right before she passed away.|
|That was the same trip the Blondie passed away on. This is just a few days before she passed away. She was acting goofy as usual.|
This year's anniversary kind of followed in the same trend as every anniversary since moving back to the East Coast. This time, Tanker was in the ICU. We took Tanker to the Emergency Vet at 1:30 in the morning when Wes got home from work. He had nine seizures in 24-hours and he needed to be put on an IV drip of Valium to stop his brain from having more. He had an IV started and was sedated for several hours before waking him up. After leaving the emergency vet's office, we stopped and ate at Taco Bell for our anniversary breakfast at 2:30 in the morning. We came home, went to bed for a couple of hours and then Wes left the house at 6:30 in the morning to make his rheumatology appointment at Bethesda at 8. Then he went to work around noon. He worked until 12:30 in the morning. Because Tanker had been seizure free after being weaned off the Valium, Wes was able to pick him up on his way home from work about 1:30. Our nine year anniversary consisted of Taco Bell, work for Wes, appointments for Wes, Tanker having seizures, and being awake for almost 24-hours.
|Topher laying with Tanker before they took him back to start him on the IV of Valium. Topher is always so concerned about his brother. He was there to comfort Tanker, and to be MY therapy dog.|
|Keeping a tuft of Tanker hair on his nose for good luck.|
|Then Topher spotted a stuffed hedgehog on the shelf, which was the sign that everything was going to be okay.|
|Holding onto that Tanker hair for good luck.|
|"Holy dog bones. This must be an expensive trip if they hook me up to the hitching post to write a check."|
|Topher was nervous about leaving Tanker. He was licking his lips and whimpering as he got in the car. I never see Topher stressed. I knew he knew something was really wrong.|
|"I love anniversaries. We're at Taco Bell. I hope I get a taco."|
|We came home to find Little Bit sleeping in the load of laundry I left on the bed.|
|Tanker after coming home the next morning. The first thing he got was lots of kisses and TREATS!|
|We knew he was going to be okay when he tried chewing off his bandage before it could come off.|
|Topher kept the puppies busy so that they wouldn't bother Tanker.|
Even through the bad, we try to celebrate the good, which is our love for each other and our strength to endure the hardships together. As Wes says, life is what you make of it. Life is good. We feel blessed to have each other to endure life with. Nine years of marriage and many more years to go.
He is more than just my husband. He is more than a lover. He is my best friend. He is my other half. He is the answer to my question. He is the spirit I feel by my side even when he is not here. He is the reason I live. He is what makes life worth it. He is the goal I strive to achieve over and over again. He is who taught me how to love. He will be by my side until the day I die. -Me