Thursday, January 14, 2016

What If

So people always say don't ask "what if" or live life on "what if's", but honestly, that's difficult to live by (well for me anyway).
I wonder all the time about some what if's and decided I would answer some of my own questions to the best of my ability.  However, to explain, this is me trying to convince myself of these answers and sometimes putting it in writing helps put things into perspective and sometimes not...

What if:  I had said, no to him asking me if he should deploy this last time.  He didn't have to go.  He had already deployed and he was an only child so technically he didn't have to go.  Well, I didn't say no.  Instead I told him to go home and talk to Katie and sleep and pray on it and see how he felt after that.  Well, of course none of that happened.  He basically made up his mind before he had enough time to even get home.  So, what if I had told him no?  First, there was a very good chance he would have gone anyway and second, he couldn't have lived with himself had he not gone and something had happened to one of his guys.  That I know for sure.

What if:  I had gone to get him that night he called me a hot mess while in SOI?  He called me at midnight ready to get on a plane and fly to Mexico.  He was upset which of course had me upset, but I couldn't let him know I was upset.  Instead my instinct of "tough love" kicked in.  What I told him is he will pull himself together and gather his thoughts, pray, and get some sleep and he would call me first thing in the morning.  Quitting was not an option so I had no option, but get tough.  He said yes ma'am and we hung up.  I immediately broke down in tears (poor Tebo) and started praying.  I prayed so hard that night and continued until I heard from him when he woke up.  He called just as he promised and said, you are right mom.  I'm staying and I can do this.  Dang right he could do this, but talk about hard to have a conversation like that when your baby boy is in California and hurting and scared and at the time I was in Tulia, TX at my mother-in-law's house on pins and needles.  So what if I had gone to California (or Mexico) and brought him home?  Well, despite the legal issues he would have faced, what would I have been teaching him?  Quitting is always an option?  You just give up when life gets hard?  Those were not things I wanted to teach my son.  He was better than that and he needed to see for himself that he was...  He did!

What if:  I had not accepted his bride and the fact that he was getting married so quickly and to the first girlfriend he really ever had?  Well, first, I never thought I could or would like let alone love any girl he brought home.  I had never had to share him with another female (buddies, yes).  I thought that I would be the "Monster-In-Law" for sure.  Well, it's funny how we just assume how we will behave, because honestly, knowing how much he loved her was really enough for me to love her.  In fact, I basically courted her while he was in Iraq and handled the ring and she and I planned the wedding all while he was in Iraq.  What if I had said, no?  Well, he was going to marry her anyway and I would have missed out on one of the most important days of my son's life and missed out on enjoying the fact that I now had a daughter.  I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in this world.  I was blessed that she allowed me to be a part of the entire process down to picking out the dress.  A mom of an only son couldn't ask for anything more.  Would I do it again, hell yeah I would, in a heartbeat.  Watching my son getting married and be so in love and be a husband even if it were just over a year was a blessing I would never give up.  There are so many moms that don't get that privilege and I cherish that experience and those memories with all that I have.

What if:  I had not told him about his surprise birthday present I got him and was planning to give him when he got off that bus returning from Afghanistan?  See, he was due to return to California right around his 23rd birthday.  I had managed to get an autographed picture of Peyton Manning and I had planned to have it framed and give it to him for his birthday.  Well, I was so excited when it arrived that on our next phone call he got to make from Afghanistan I was bursting with excitement and had to tell him.  He was literally the most excited I had heard him sound in so long that I still have to smile every time I relive that call.  The call was literally less than 3 minutes long before we got cut off and mostly what he said was, "that's crazy, crazy I tell ya!  How did you do that mom?".  Then the call dropped.  At the time I was so excited about how excited he was that it actually took me a few minutes after the call to realize I didn't get to say I love you before the call dropped.  I was terribly upset about that and even told Tebo I would say I love you first before we say anything else next time.  Well, sadly a week later I would never get that chance.  So what if I hadn't told him?  I wouldn't have the greatest last phone call a mom could ask for.  That boy loved Peyton Manning (almost as much as I do) and you could literally hear his smile over the phone.  I wouldn't trade that memory either.

So, what if I continue to ask myself all the What If questions?  It will give me a reason to pause and think of all the things I could/would have missed out on had things not gone the way they did.  It level sets me again and allows me to relive some of those memories a little extra.  So ask the What If's if you need too, but don't live there.  Don't get so hung up on the What Ifs to the point you can't move forward.  That is easier said than done some days (again, I'm speaking to myself), but on those days I just dig a little deeper and find more happy memories (and thank God there are lots of those) and hold onto those a little tighter.

There isn't a moment that I am breathing that I'm not missing him, thinking about him, loving him, and remembering him.  I long for him so much I ache.  I know I will see him again one day and I know he isn't suffering, but knowing that doesn't make me miss him less.  That will never change, and that I know for sure.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Christmas 2015 Vegas Style

As most people know, since 2010 Tebo and I try to take a trip at Christmas as I just have a hard time being home during that time of year.  We have only had one Christmas since 2010 that we stayed home and it needs to be the last one for me for the current time anyway.
This year we went to Vegas.  You might wonder why Vegas.  Well, 2015 was a significant year for us.  Tebo turned 55, I had my 11th Anniversary of my 39th birthday, Chad was gone 5 years, and we were married 10 years.  That's a lot of things to celebrate.  Since we were married in Vegas at the Venetian Hotel we decided what better place to celebrate all these milestones than where it "officially" began.  So that's what we did.
We didn't have actually plans other than watching the show "Rock of Ages" (personally suggest seeing it, it was great) and relaxing.  We accomplished both as well as had some delicious food.
Tebo is great at planning our itinerary.  The day we arrived in Vegas and checked into our room he began making dinner reservations for the week while I unpacked us.  He had (unbeknownst to me) made a few special arrangements for certain nights to surprise me.  The first night he had it arranged to have "Our" special wine, Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio (fabulous wine!) and in true Tebo form, he ordered the bottle!  It was a great night.
Other than the show we walked the strip and took in the shops and even took a cab down to the "original" strip at Fredmont where he initially planned to zip line, but once we got there we decided not to hang out long enough for him to do that.  I don't think he was terribly disappointed which I was glad for that.
Some very interesting things took place while we were in Vegas and the trip home was an adventure all in itself.  However, I will stick to the time we were there for now.  The first day we arrived was Sunday, December 20th.  That date wasn't significant to us necessarily, but the events that ended up taking place that night on the strip made it significant to others.  Apparently a woman with a child in the backseat of her car decided (for whatever reason) to drive down the strip hitting pedestrians.  Sadly one person died that night and many more were injured.  Of course you can imagine the panic of our family and friends when they saw this on the news (before we did) knowing that's where we were.  Lucky for us, we never left the Venetian once we arrived that day so we were safe and sound.  Needless to say our phones had been blowing up with text and voicemails with people wanted to make sure we were ok.  Once we let everyone know we were safe we went down for breakfast.  While sitting at breakfast we met this very nice young couple who were sitting next to us and they were talking about the events from the night before.  Then they told us they had been at the USA Pageant at the hotel a couple of blocks away (nearly right where the lady drove wrecklessly down the strip) where Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner.  They said it was total chaos in that place as people were angry (as you can imagine) and they were concerned about things getting out of hand in there as the chaos was taking place right outside.  Shewwww.... what a crazy first day/night in Vegas on what would be a full week of relaxation.  Luckily, that was the last of the crazy events that were scary while we were there (while we were actually in Vegas that is).
We enjoyed shops and food and drinks all week.  I also took a nap every afternoon and I'm a fan of incorporating that into my everyday life as well.  Now, if I can only convince my boss of this. 
Anyway, we set out to try different foods and be adventurous (in that area) while we were there, which if you know me at all, you know this is quite the commitment on my part.  I have to say I was impressed with nearly every meal we had.  I would say with all meals, but there were some that were just ok, but over all, they were great!
Just to name a few of our favorites:  The Yardbird; Otto; Delmonico; and Sushi Samba.  WOW!  Great atmosphere and food!  I did journal our adventure through Instagram and Face Book with pictures, but that could not and did not do it justice.
We logged 41 miles of steps, yes, 41 miles!  Tebo has a step counter that he wears so we kept checking each day to see how far we walked and that was the weeks' total.  I would tell you I couldn't believe it, but I believe it.  My body was telling me off and on all week that we had walked a lot of steps.  It was great though.  I love to walk and there is always so much to see in Vegas that it makes it easy to forget how long you have actually been walking. 
Believe it or not, the weather was nice, but colder there than in NW Arkansas.  They actually had snow the day after Christmas.  We didn't actually see it other than the top of the mountains in the distance, but it was there. 
We did talk about taking a helicopter ride over Hoover Dam, but when we saw the cost ($400/person) for a 45 minute ride, we opted to just be happy there on the strip.  That was a great call for me.  I was a bit leery to start with so my heart wasn't broken over that decision.  I was going to do it for Tebo, but for me, I was perfectly happy with my feet on the ground.
Needless to say, our Vegas Christmas was exactly what we wanted and needed.  Lots of relaxing, good food, and just being together and remembering our 10 year journey.  What a ride, Babe!
So, we prepared for our trip back home Saturday, December 26th and yes, it was cold in Vegas, but not miserable by any means.  We got to the airport with a couple of hours to wait for our flight (by design) and grabbed a quick bite to eat and just walked around killing time and getting steps in.  Once our time approached to get to the gate we were getting notifications that there was stormy weather in Dallas (our connection airport) so we knew there could be some delays.  We weren't terribly worried about that as we still had Sunday set aside should we need it for travel.  Our flight from Vegas was indeed delayed about an hour or so, but that was due to a crew/staffing issue with the plane coming to get us, not weather.  Luckily I have a husband that is great with the travel arrangements so he had already spoken to the gate agent there and she booked us on the 8:30 AM Sunday flight from Dallas to NWA just in case we missed our connection.  We were actually still hopefully of getting home Saturday night as the weather conditions would most certainly delay our connection so even with our delay in Vegas we thought we would still stand a good chance of making it.
Well....  I couldn't have been MORE wrong!  Here is how things went from the time we boarded our plane until Sunday afternoon.
We were about 30 minutes into what was supposed to be a 2 1/2 hour flight when the flight attendant handed us our blood Mary drinks.  Just as the drinks were placed on our try in front of us we hit a little turbulence.  No big deal, right?  That happens.  We took a few sips and suddenly the turbulence became a bit stronger.  Still nothing thinking much about it we continued to sip and I teased about the drinks coming in the nick of time.  Suddenly the turbulence became very violent.  I'm not exaggerating, it was tossing us back and forth and up and down.  So much so that at one point Tebo had his drink in his hand when the force threw his hand up with his drink coming out of his cup hitting the ceiling of the plane above us and back onto us with 50% landing back in his cup.  It was funny and scary at the same time.  From that moment until we landed things just got worse and more violent.  Suddenly you begin to hear people using their handy little back in the seat pocket in front of them.  YES!  Oh, it wasn't just one or two there had to be dozens puking on that plane.  Now, those who know me already know what I was doing, but for those who may not know, I am a sympathetic puker!  It was all I could do to hold it together and not start joining this group of unfortunate passengers.  After an aborted initial landing in Dallas we finally land.... then you could smell the aroma and no my friends, it wasn't potpourri...  Yikes!  I left the plane with my hand over my nose and mouth to keep from embarrassing myself and Tebo. 
We get off the plane and have been notified that our flight was actually canceled.  No need to worry about delays, just go to the gate, confirm our flight for 8:30 tomorrow morning and get our hotel room and some sleep, right?  Well, of course a good story that would not make.  We do go to the gate and the gate agent says, oh, you have to go to blah blah blah.  So we go to said, blah blah blah and OMG the line!  There were hundreds and I do mean hundreds of people waiting in this same line.  Stunned we walk to the back of the line.  I mean, how bad could it be really?  Well, I'm so glad you asked.  Literally there were 2 hours that the line did not move DID NOT MOVE PEOPLE!  We joined this line of tired and frustrated passengers at 10:00 PM on Saturday, December 26, 2015.  We finally made it to the spot where we were the next in line to be called to the counter at 6:00 AM December 27th, Praise the Lord.  Suddenly they announce from behind the counter that after they finish with the people directly in front of them they are leaving.  Not taking a break, but LEAVING to go home!  We couldn't believe it.  Needless to say, the relief crew they said would be their shortly had not shown up after an hour and a half.  Finally the gate agent from across the hall came over and helped us.  The first thing she tells us is we didn't have to be in line that we just needed to go to the gate.  Tebo said, "We did, 8 hours ago!".  Ugh, less than 30 seconds later we were on our way to the gate.  However, you would think that would be the end of this crazy day, but it wasn't.  Our crew (again) was late arriving so we were a couple hours late leaving Dallas between a late crew and the weather and backed up planes on the runway.  We finally land in NW Arkansas and it is literally flooding everywhere around us.  Roads were closed and it was raining buckets and the wind was like we were still in Texas.  Tebo runs out to get the truck while I wait with the bags.  I run to the truck when he pulls up and this older lady comes up and asks if we had room for her and her bag.  Tebo says yes of course (thinking we are taking her to her car)... Well, she wants us to take her somewhere that her daughter could pick her up as her daughter was stuck in mud due to the flooding.  Now, this lady doesn't know us and we don't know her and she trusted us to take her somewhere.  I guess one or both of us didn't look very threatening, however, she had no clue what we had just been through so she is really lucky we didn't snap....  Eeeeekkkkk...  Anyway, we drop her off at Barnes & Noble and head home.  Now you would think we would just crash, but we couldn't do that.  We had kids driving from Vernon, TX in ice, storms, and now flooding and a sister and her family driving up from Louisiana in stormy and flood conditions.  There was no way I could rest knowing they were traveling so I decided I would get the laundry done while I waited so I wouldn't get sleepy.  Lucky for me I did get it all done and everyone made it to their destination safe and sound.  I do believe I slipped into a mild coma when I did lay down that night and I felt completely refreshed Monday morning and that was a huge blessing.
All in all it was a great escape and even with the craziness of trying to get home, it was worth it.  We both needed that break away and like Tebo said, that craziness just helped us get adjusted to the time change and the stress of work again so kind of hard to be terribly upset at that point, because it was true.  It definitely got us back into the groove of work and the right time zone. 
I'm so grateful for a husband who always manages to not only take control of situations and keep me calm, but for one that somehow shows me an exciting time wherever we go (& sometimes not purposely).  Thanks babe for a great first 10 years of marriage and I am looking forward to the next 10 and more. 
As a side note, I could do without some of the bumps in our journey, but I can't imagine having gone through those (and continuing to go through them) with anyone but you! 
I will try to include as many pictures of our week as I can.  The food was amazing as I have mentioned, but just the time spent together and the talks we had were priceless.