Don and I met serving in the military during our first deployment overseas; we came back and fell in love as war has a way of bonding people in a powerful way. To me, marriage vows mean something, my new husband was on his second marriage before 25 and in the beginning he promised he would never leave me. Then he commited to 7 years of marriage and fell prey to a gold dusted opportunist; he accused me of cheating on him the entire marriage and, the interloper saw her moment to pluck me out of my life and insert herself in my place.
Even though I played perfect wife the first few years, I ended up getting really sick and was going through an untreated, PTSD induced depression. It was crippling, I couldn’t get out of bed, the VA system is permanent-backed up, and I was dealing with chronic pain from my Army injuries. I decided to do a volunteer conservation expedition that would put me out of touch with the rest of the world save for one day a week so I couldn’t write often You would think if I could last 15 months without seeing him during a deployment, he could last a month without me. Come to find out, he got lonely and did all the things he refused to do with me; experiencing our new duty station in Hawai’i with co workers, and having people over. At one of these parties is where Anne comes in: she knew the rank on his shoulder and the good pay that came with it and must have thought of the lower rank of her fiance. I can see her turning her face to the man I built from a jealous and hurt young ex-husband of his high school sweetheart, to a loving, caring husand. Noticing the life I built from $2 a day meals to regularly used gourmet kitchen things and and herb garden out front; Don loved to brag about us “comin’ up from nothing”. As she stood in our beautiful 2 bedroom WWII era on-post housing, she must have thought of her shithole barracks room she shared with another girl and her far away in Afghanistan fiance. It was then her succubus senses honed in on my vulnerable husband and his absent wife who was part two of a married couple going through a rough bump in their marriage. Anne sank her teeth in his jugular.
Don and I had a whirlwind romance and a very military-during-war marriage. We had spent every night together the last four months looking at the stars and talking while we were overseas, and continued the pattern when we came home. The barracks were pretty awful, we found out we were going to re-deploy separately, and had realized we would be going to different areas at different times so we would be separated for 2 years. Nothing, but nothing, was storybook or Disney princess about our entire relationship. He “proposed” to me by stomping into my barracks room slamming the door and saying
“Fuck! I’m getting transferred to the 74th, wanna just get married or something?”
I was floored. The way I was raised I thought the man had to ask the girls father for her hand with a big white dress and him in his class A uniform standing at the alter to follow. Don and I talked about it for a week; we loved each other, economically we were both poor as two lower ranking soldiers make shit for money so combining income would help. We could file the paperwork for married pay and get basic housing allowances meaning we could live in an apartment off post and enjoy privacy and freedom and get to be in a regular relationship. We talked about it for a week every night over fast food on my twin bed in my shared barracks room. We were engaged three days in which I got a white sundress and the low budget, creative version of the classic “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” ryhme. I made do with my blue Roxy sandals, a friend gave me a plastic tiara with a veil, and we got an affordable band for him and a spacer so I could wear his family diamond solitare. We got married in a courthouse; he wore khakis and a white button up shirt, and I stood shaking in my $15 dollar sundress with light grey shells. We had signed the lease on our first apartment the day before and spent the night apart; he at a friend’s house after a night of drinking and I went to a nice dinner with some friends from our unit and then a bit of tipsy karoke. When my friend pulled up to the courthouse on a cold and windy Saturday morning, I got out of the car and Don was right there to lean down and whisper:
“You look like an angel.”
We said our vows in front of 4 other couples we were frends with and a judge ending with him replacing his “I do” with:
“Forever and always”
And me replacing my “I do” with:
“For the rest of my life”
I was scared but excited about being someone’s wife. Don was the first guy to treat me well, he always talked about romantic things he wanted to do for me. I really did love him and I know he loved me, I was Don’s wife and now it was us against the world.