We’ll call this: the “Before” picture.

Well, boys and girls: We have reached the final stretch. Our countdown is almost at its end; soon, I will be in Louisville, savoring my final carefree hours with my handsome husband before he will set out to boot camp. These last days will undoubtedly course their way in and out of my grasp in what will feel like the blink of an eye. While my regular work schedule complicates it somewhat, what truly matters at this point in time is making the most of the remaining time we do have together.

image1 (1)This past weekend was one of the best I’ve had in quite a while. Friday was an ordinary work night, but Saturday exceeded even my wildest expectations. In his usual Tim Lawry fashion, he just had to do something for me despite Sweetest Day being the most made up and potential gag-inducing holiday in the world. I arose early and he took me to get my nails filled in (which were in DESPERATE need). While I would have been content with that alone, the man who overdoes it on every gift-giving occasion would never settle there. We made our way to the local mall, and directly to the Build-A-Bear Workshop. We’ve gone that route before, back when we first started dating in high school, and I can happily say we still own that little guy as well.

We went through all of the motions of building and creating this new little bear (so appropriately named Tim Tim), which wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable for a couple in their 20’s as you might expect. Tim recorded his own voice saying, “I love you, baby” and placed it in his little paw; I already know that will help me through the long weeks of boot camp and beyond when conversation is non-existent beyond the form of letters. We kissed the little heart we also placed inside, fluffed him up, and “bathed” him. From there, we picked his wardrobe – oh so appropriately being the Marine Corps Dress Blues.  I’ve never loved a Hallmark holiday gift so much. He certainly exceeded the stereotypical flowers or chocolates, as I’ve never been much of a fan of either of those.

After the sweetness that was Tim’s gifts, I’m sure you can only imagine how crappy I looked and felt in comparison when I didn’t have a single to offer up as his “holiday” goody. Tim didn’t seem to mind – he never is bothered by those kinds of things as he will give me everything he has and expect nothing in return – and simply asked that I buy him lunch and walk our pups for him so he could take a nap. Looking AND feeling bad (despite having something up my sleeve), I of course obliged. But little did he know that his Sweetest Day present was already well in the works.

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image3From the moment Tim confirmed his decision to leave for boot camp early (basically the moment he was presented with it), I immediately knew I wanted to do something special for him before he left with his closest friends and family. Unfortunately, the time limit – less than a month from the day he was informed to the day he leaves – came with its own restraints as to who could and could not attend, but I worked with what I had and I worked quickly. I was placing orders for party goods within hours and working as stealthily as I could to avoid tipping him off. I ended up deciding on a gathering at Drake’s, a local restaurant/bar that Tim and I hadn’t visited in a while. I notified friends and family as quickly as possible and the ball was rolling.

image2 (1)Saturday afternoon, I managed to convince Tim that I was going to dinner with my sister, Erika, and friend, and that we would do something together later on that night. He understood, and invited his good friend, Nick, to come hang out and watch football with him (an arrangement that I also strategically set up – virtual fist-bump to Nick for the assist). Erika and I immediately departed to the restaurant, where we met some of our friends to get everything set up and situated. Despite a rocky start, things gradually began coming together and the location ended up being perfect. Before long, everyone was in place, and we were coordinating their escape plan to get the missing piece and guest of honor there.

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image9To keep from rambling on and on, we finally got him to the location and he was certainly surprised. He’d been on to me all week, suspecting something – but he assured me that that was not at all what he had expected. So many of his good friends from all across the board came together to send him off – I was truly astounded and touched by how many came together to do this for him on such short notice. In the end, you always do find out who your friends are. We ate, we drank, we enjoyed college football and catching up with so many. It was a beautiful time and turned out even better than I anticipated. Tim definitely enjoyed himself and that was all the gratification in the world I needed – well, that and the fact that he himself dubbed me ‘wife of a lifetime’ several times, both in and out of his drunken stupor.

image7Waking up this morning and remembering that this would be one of the last I would wake up in our bed beside him for quite a while hurt a bit, but I’m coming to discover that with all of the support we both have from all over, that pain stings just a smidgen less and less each time I’m faced with it. We both have the most amazing  individuals in our back corners, which lessens the blow substantially on both sides. The sooner Tim goes on to complete this means the sooner he gets out, the sooner we can be together again, and the sooner our life together can resume and go on to our next ventures. And despite the tears, that thought is always in the back of my mind, helping me through. I look forward to slow dancing with you in the middle of many empty dance floors in the years to come, Tim. And am endlessly proud of you, always.

Happy Sunday, everybody!

Jess

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