Now, I know this is a place for grief and grieving but within this space there is room for joy and room for the beauty that is life. Grief carry's with it beginnings and endings. Grief is about love and loss. Grief carry's with it more than pain, it carry's memories that we can sit with and smile and cry. Grieving is the natural response to the pain of our loss and each one of will grieve uniquely. This is part of our story. I am writing to work through my grief and to look at my relationship with my husband. So here is a snapshot of our beginning. Maybe you won't feel so alone.
This is a story of love at first sight...for me anyway. It was more than a physical attraction. It was something I had never felt before. It didn't scare me.
It was a hot day in 1979 when I met him. I remember exactly what he looked like and what he was wearing. He was wearing levi jeans, a Patricia’s t-shirt and adidas gazelles. His face was tanned and round with a short blonde military haircut, pouty lips and those intense hazel eyes starting back at me with a look of distain. (True story) I was wearing my combats, without the jacket, a white v-neck tee, with rainbow suspenders (Mork and Mindy inspired) and I had my mirrored aviators on the top of my head. I looked so cool. A friend of each of ours grabbed me and said I have the cutest little Picklie for you … I was intrigued. He introduced us and John simple said “I should throw you in jail for defacing the Queens Uniform.” (Again, true story) What is a Picklie you ask….Picklie was a nickname for men in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
So hi, its me, I’m the problem it’s me … so looked like we weren’t off to a good start. I just turned around and walked out trying to look as cool as I hoped I looked knowing I would win him over. For some reason I just knew we were meant to be together and right there and then I set my sights on him.
I remember standing outside my barrack (a building that housed about 20-40 bunk beds for the people who came to do summer courses) and he was running by. His legs were long and so was his stride. He was a good runner. I could see the focus in him from a distance. He was beautiful. I swore that he was going to be my husband one day. I just knew it. He had no chance.
We met another time after that first meeting. It was not my best look, unlike our first meeting, ha ha. It was the afternoon after an exercise we had been on (exercise - where the militia play war games and train) and the night before I had decided not to sleep with my mosquito netting because I didn’t want to wreck my hair. Bad decision, I woke up the next morning with my face swollen covered in bites…I never felt a thing that night but I sure did in the morning. At this point my hair could not save my look. The captain I was driving for put this shiny gauze on my face to cool to off and sooth my very sore swollen face. It also highlighted the hideousness of my face making it much more noticeable.
Guess who I see? John, looking sharp as always in his uniform and there I was looking like the disheveled mess I was. Hi, it’s me, shiny bumpy faced me, the woman you will spend the rest of your life with. (Talking inside my head which I tended to do a lot of in the beginning of this relationship) John, sort of smiled that smile that says “oh my God” as he looked at me in horror and then just said “Hey you like you had fun” and giggled a little as he walked away. I believe he felt it was just punishment for what I was wearing when I first met him. Cool.
Our next meeting was when we were fighting fires. Destiny and adventure awaits! I was my normal faced self again, wearing my uniform, pressed and polished. (Let’s just say I stopped being a rebel in uniform and began to wear my uniform properly and proudly after our first meeting. He was a good influence). For this next adventure I was the driver taking a group of soldiers he was with to the field to fight the brush fires around the camp. When we arrived, I left the truck and went with him (I was not letting this chance get away)…to this day I don’t know who brought the truck back to camp but it wasn’t me and I didn’t get in trouble for leaving it. The things I got away with back then. Charmed life?
As we were walking and talking we diligently searched for any sparks on the ground that could create a fire. We still had an actual job to do beside get to know each other. (Can I just say there were some sparks flying between us. 😊) We talked about lots of things. I really liked him. He was so smart and funny and kind. I asked him questions about himself because I was genuinely interested in what my future husband was like. I heard all about his plans for the future and his career goals. He was so sure of himself and what he was going to accomplish. I listened intently as he told me his story and then he looked at me and said “Thanks for asking me all about myself I don’t usually talk this much, but I would like to know about you.” GULP oh shoot … what do I say?
Me?? Um, I’m 17 years old, I have no real plan except I’m going to marry you. (Inside my head again) I felt shy and somehow out of sorts. He took my hand; he could see I was stumbling with what to say. (Oh my gosh he is perfect I thought) He said to me “Just tell me where you’re from and why you are here doing this army stuff.” I laughed and said “I’m from Moose Jaw, my dad was in the army and that’s the place he decided our family would live forever. It wasn’t my choice to live there, I was 12 .” I continued “ I joined cadets because I wanted to do something to feel closer to my dad. It really didn’t work out that way but I soon found the Militia and joined. I really liked it and I get paid to do it! Also, it was a lot of fun. I’m here because I like the army, doing drill, firing weapons, and leading and training new recruits. Also, I met some of the most fun and amazing people.” “Are you fun” I asked. (I already knew he was amazing).
He laughed and said he could be fun, but he was here to further his career and train for his jump course in the fall. He didn’t really have time for distractions he needed to focus on training.
Okay, cool but what about us? (inside voice again)
Then he invited me to a party he and his group were having in that night. It wasn’t his section (A section is a military subunit. It usually consists of between 6 and 20 personnel) it was a group of guys who hung out together after hours, friends. So, no distractions huh. Now was my chance to charm him so he too would realize we were meant for each other. I was going to be a big distraction but in the best way possible.
That night me and my girlfriend got dressed, put on some terrible spray that smelt sickening sweet...too late now. We put on stuff we thought was kinda cute (we didn’t have much to choose from we packed light) to go to this party. When we arrived John quickly got me a drink. My he was so hospitable. I have no actual idea what it was but it was strong and terrible and I drank it. He said he had to leave for a bit and left me with a young guy in a suit. Who I found out was a reporter on assignment for a paper and hated doing army stuff. Cool. I was with this guy for what seemed like an hour and I was starting to get drunk. This drink was strong. I excused myself from the reporter and went outside. There was John with a girl. What the actual F*ck. They were getting a bit too cozy. Shiz is about to get real for her.
I was never someone who was confrontational but in that moment I was. He was making a mistake and I needed to correct it. I walked over and proceeded to tell this young woman off and tell her he was mine. (Oh my, I was full of myself and bottle courage) I think I scared her because she left quickly. Then I looked at him and thanked him for the drink and told him it was time we got to know each other better. I believe I kissed him first and it was not good. I caught him off guard. So, I again I seemed very confident in myself and proceeded to explain kissing. (I know, right) Lets just say he knew how but he went along with my education and we kissed a lot and he was very good. We were very good.
We never discussed why he and that other girl were together until a few conversations later. It didn’t matter to me. Anyway, from that point on we were a pair. I was his girl. He was my forever.
After only 10 days of being together and taking risks, we shouldn’t have because he could have gotten into way more trouble than me. Being young and in love can make even the most dedicated soldier falter and do foolish things. Cliff notes...We went skinny dipping in the camp outdoor pool late at night (now that’s a story), we also went awol one weekend (absent from the armed forces without permission) and spent 2 nights in Saskatoon getting to know one another better (I was now 18 and had my birthday a few days before, again another great story). We never got caught thank goodness. Charmed life? As I was saying before I got distracted in the beginning of this paragraph, after only 10 beautiful days he asked me if I was planning on going to Winnipeg in the fall. (That's where he was stationed) I said yes I was going, I was going to go where he was. But truth be told, I had no idea what I would do but my sister lived there and she would be a great resource. (and she was) Once he knew I was moving to Winnipeg he looked at me and he said softly “I think I’m falling in love with you.” Wait what??? Thank you, Jesus, he said it because I was too afraid to…my courage and forwardness had left me in the midst of this now I was feeling very vulnerable and insecure. I was in love with him and I too afraid to say it for fear he might reject me. I had never been in love like that before. I stumbled and smiled so big with tears running down my face saying “I love you too. I don’t think I love you; I know I do!” (So romantic)
Oh, and in case you were worried John accomplished all his goals and more. From the beginning we encouraged and supported each other’s goals and dreams. We believed in each other.
This is just the just the first chapter of many in our story of forever. There is more love, action, disappointment, hurt, trips, babies, teenagers and real life to come I hope you stay tuned.