What My Marriage Taught Me

This morning I woke up and realized that today my late-husband, Drew Pearson, and I would have been celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.

Drew loved planning things, especially when he could surprise me with them. I don't know what he would have planned for our 20th anniversary. He always told me since our honeymoon was camping in Yellowstone National Park with my, now ours, two daughters that one day he would take me on a real honeymoon. Maybe this would have been that year. I will never know what the future would have held for us since he was KIA during his 2nd deployment to Iraq.

My marriage with Drew taught me a lot about myself. My first marriage was nothing like my marriage to Drew. I remember telling Drew on our first date that I never wanted to get married again. The next thing I knew we were married six months later. The night he proposed to me, after making sure I didn't choke on the engagement ring he placed in my champagne glass, I wanted to say yes because I had such a strong connection to him, but I was also scared of losing my independence. Drew said that he loved my independence and felt that this is one of the reasons we are so perfect for each other. He loved me because he saw what an independent and strong person I was. He said that he knew we would hit some bumps along the way in our marriage, but if we could promise each other that from the moment I said yes that we will do whatever we need to make sure our marriage is strong and will last. Marriage is about believing and supporting each other. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage because there is no such thing as perfect people. I never regretted marrying Drew and to this day I would do it all over again, even if I knew the devastation that his death would cause me and the children. Drew is one of my soul-mates in my life and he is the first person who showed me what love and marriage really are.

I have always doubted my personal strength all of my life. I wanted to be strong and independent, which is what I have always tried to push myself to be. I think my quest to maintaining strength and independence is why my first marriage failed. My marriage with Drew was built on me using my strength and independence. Being a military spouse required both of these. I think that is why many military marriages end. If a spouse struggles to find strength and independence they will struggle when their military spouse is required to deploy. As I embraced my life with Drew I realized that these were both skills needed to be married to a soldier who is forced to be a soldier first. Drew was away on exercise training and deployments for most of our marriage. In the almost 7 years of marriage, he was gone at least 3 years altogether. I was able to use my strength and independence to raise our four children, maintain our home, and during certain parts of his career serving as an officer's wife duties. In fact, I learned exactly just how much strength and independence I was capable of. Learning just how strong I am is what helped me get up every morning after his death. Grief is so powerful and I remember crying every morning in the shower after his death for almost a year. Once I stepped out of the shower I would hear Drew's voice in my head telling me that now was the time to find the strong and independent person he knew I was and take care of our children and myself. I haven't always been good about doing things for myself, but I am getting better at it as my children are adults now.

Drew use to always say, "There is always something good in everything. Sometimes we just have to look a lot harder to find it." I only remember him actually saying that to me a few times, but those words have always stayed with me. After his death, I hated when those words would come into my head. I tried to argue with him that it was bullshit. Of course, he wasn't there to argue with me about it. In time those words began to help carry me through my grief. Drew said that it is easy to see the terrible things but it takes strength to see the good things in undesired situations. Whenever I was done crying in the shower and I would get ready for the day I would tell myself that I needed to take care of the kids and find something good in the day. I hadn't realized that I was doing that in the beginning. One day I realized that I was doing exactly what Drew had said we need to do in life. Damn him! By looking for the good in the day we are pushing ourselves to be stronger. Eventually, it is much easier to see the good around us and happens naturally in our brains without much effort. Now I value those words a lot more than I had for a while after his death. In fact, I find I say that to my children and others whenever they are struggling.

My marriage to Drew was one of many great things that have happened in my life so far. I wish Drew and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary together, but I am so thankful for the years I was able to share my life with him.