10 days was the amount of time Grant and I had spent together before we had vowed to spend the rest of our lives with each other.
11 days if you count the day that we met in high school. Which you probably shouldn’t count because we barely said two words to one another and I thought Grant looked like a cowboy.
Which he kind of is, I guess. Minus the hat. Though he does have one.
16 days was the amount of time we had actually spent together after our engagement. That’s including the 10 days before our engagement.
Yeah, it wasn’t a lot of time.
Even though we had spent months talking over the phone and video, when I thought about the actual amount of time that we’d spent together in person, it made me nervous.
I was about to spend every day of the rest of my life married to a man with whom I’d only spent 16 days! That’s just barely over two weeks!
In my mind, it wasn’t ideal. In most people’s minds it’s probably not ideal.
But it didn’t bother Grant. Grant is not most people.
Grant’s next scheduled trip to America was August 20th, two days, two days before our wedding day! I wanted him to come earlier so that we could have some time together before everyone came into town and things got busy, but Grant didn’t want to take “leave” before the wedding. He wanted to use as much of his vacation time as possible for our honeymoon.
I understood that. But spending time together before our wedding was also important to me.
But I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. It was something else to trust the Lord about. Sigh.
A week or so after I found my wedding dress, I received a call from Grant.
“GraceAnna, guess what?”
“The Marine Corps is sending me to the States for an Exercise!” (“Exercise” is Marine lingo for a “Mission,” and I guess “Mission” is Marine lingo for a short job? Sorry, I’m still not the greatest at explaining these things).
“You are kidding me!!!! Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed way too loudly – the way Southerners do – then I looked around to be sure no one noticed. “Um, where?”
“Alaska?“ Alaska? I repeated to myself. Weren’t there wild bears and ferocious animals and lots of empty land where people become lost and confused and died? No wonder they were conducting an “Exercise” there and they needed Marines.
My heart sank. Alaska might as well be a different country. Any hopes of seeing Grant before our wedding began to fade. There was no way I’d be making a trip to Alaska.
“GraceAnna, will you come out and see me? I’ll pay for your ticket and everything.”
“Well, I mean, I’d love to, but how would that work out logistically? Where would I stay?”
“There’s a family that lives in Alaska who are friends of some of my parents’ best friends. I was thinking about calling them and asking them if you could stay there if you want to come!”
I could hear the unbelievable excitement in Grant’s voice. There wasn’t a hint of doubt or hesitation. To him, I was already coming to Alaska. Even though he hadn’t even spoken with these “friends of friends.”
“Grant, I would love to come . . . I just don’t know.” I was hesitant. I really did want to come. But to me, it just seemed like there were so many details to work out. Details that would be difficult to work out.
How would we get around? Would this Alaskan family really be okay with me staying there? I imagined staying in a cabin out in the wilderness with the heads of dead animals in my bedroom. And on top of all that, what would I do while Grant was working?
“GraceAnna, talk to your parents about it. I think it would be a blast. Alaska is America’s last unchartered frontier! All the details will work themselves out. I’ll contact this family, okay?”
I didn’t know it at the time, but this conversation represented many that would take place in our future marriage. I sometimes over-analyze and over-think situations, where Grant mostly just believes that everything will work out. We need each other.
“Okay,” I said as I hung up the phone. I was excited. But I knew in my heart that it would never work out.
“Hey Dad,” I asked later that day, “What would you think of me going to visit Grant in Alaska in two weeks?” I explained the whole “Exercise” situation and the wilderness family with whom I would stay.
Of course, I knew what he would say. I knew he would tell me that I shouldn’t go. I knew he would say that it was too far away, too expensive, and too sketchy-sounding, though my dad would never use the word “sketchy.”
“I think you should go. Alaska is America’s last unchartered frontier.”
I was shocked. Did he really just say I could go? And did he really just say “America’s last unchartered frontier?”
I stared out the airplane window at miles and miles of ice-capped mountains. Hmm. . . it definitely looked like unchartered frontier.
I wasn’t in South Carolina anymore.
But I knew I was going to have to get used to that.
to be continued . . .