One year ago Friday, I saw a national headline about a devastating attack in Afghanistan, and immediately sent Brent a Skype message to ask if he was okay.
He replied that he was safe, but that a close Afghan friend had been killed in the attacks. The headline reported the injury of an American contractor and one US military service member. See the full story here.
I later met that same wounded military service member in the middle of the night at Dover Air Base shortly before being taken to the flight line where I witnessed the Dignified Transfer of Brent's remains onto American soil, barely two weeks after Brent had reported his personal safety.
Yesterday also marked 21 months since Brent departed for his final deployment to Afghanistan (he left on January 19, 2018), and 23 months since baby Caroline was born (November 19, 2017).
She was two months old the day he left. Jonathan had just turned 2; Ellie was 5; Jacob was almost 7; Alex was 8; Lincoln was 6 days away from his 11th birthday; and Megan was 12.
Today marks 8 years since Brent left to Afghanistan for the first time.
Baby Jacob was 9 months old; Alex was 2 years old; Lincoln was 4; and Megan had just turned 6.
This month also marks 11 years since Brent returned from his two back-to-back deployments to Iraq.
At that time, Megan had just turned 3 and Lincoln was 21 months old. Baby Alex would make his entrance into this world a short 10 months later.
16 years ago this month, Brent and I were newlyweds and drove to Arizona, where his family lived, to have an open house in celebration of our recent marriage in the Salt Lake Temple.
A friend of his had given us a musical soundtrack CD called "The Price of Freedom" by Arizona-native Rob Gardner. We listened to this stirring story of several Soldiers and their families through the honors and horrors of WWII.
Brent had enlisted in the Utah National Guard 4 months before, and would be leaving for Boot Camp 3 months later. We were both self-declared patriots, and we've always shared a dedication to serving our country. Listening to these real-life stories of the sacrifices required for military service hit us very deeply, and many tears were shed by both of us as we continued the long drive to his parents home.
Find the Playlist for the Price of Freedom on Youtube here.
And now we are exactly ten days away from my 40th birthday, and two weeks away from the one-year mark of Brent's death.
Once again, I find myself in the midst of so many thoughts, so many emotions; so many memories and so many (somewhat altered but still optimistic) dreams.
Perhaps someday things will settle down enough for me to write a book about all the lessons I've learned through the reflective days of the Octobers of my life.
For now, suffice it to say that my life continues to pass by as if in a dream. I know God is with me and aware of me, and I continue to trust in Him daily as I seek to do His will, even when I'm quick to admit that I do not understand all the details only He can see.
And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.