Grant and I stood in the giant airplane hanger on Elmandorf Air Force Base in Alaska. Grant was about to board a C-130 with his marines and fly to Fairbanks to conduct another Marine Corps exercise.
His time in Anchorage was over, and so was our time together. My flight was leaving Anchorage later that evening.
As we stood in the hanger, it was difficult to hear each other over the loud roar of the airplane engines.
I looked at Grant as he stood there in his camouflage and combat boots. I could tell by his serious expression on his face that his mind was already engaged on the work he had ahead of him. That was something that I would understand more fully later – how my Marine husband would say good-bye to me long before he actually left. Whether it was just for a few days or a few months, he would get focused on the work ahead of him and couldn’t relax until it was over.
I felt a lump form in my throat as we stood there. I hated saying good-bye.
The next time I would see Grant would be at our wedding in two months. After our wedding, I knew my life would be so different. I would no longer be a single woman under my dad’s protection. I would be a Marine Officer’s wife; and in the future, a seminary student’s wife, and eventually a Pastor’s wife. I didn’t know where that would take us, or the challenges that it would bring. I just knew everything was about to change.
Planning and looking ahead to our future was something that we had talked a lot about the past week we had been together in Alaska.
Our first year of marriage was going to be far from typical. After we got married and went on our honeymoon, Grant would immediately be starting a very intense training school in Yuma, Arizona.
Normally, husbands don’t bring their wives to this school because the hours that they work are so long, and it’s only 2 1/2 months long. But because we would be newly married and establishing ourselves as a married couple, Grant wanted to bring me with him, and I wanted to go.
He had already found a small one-bedroom apartment just a few minutes from base. After our time in Yuma, we would fly straight to Japan. We would be there for a few months before Grant had to leave on a deployment. I would most likely fly back to the states while he was away.
Needless to say, our first year of marriage was going to include a ton of traveling. I knew that living out of a suitcase wasn’t going to be easy. I couldn’t deny that it scared me a little bit to know that there were so many “unknowns” about our future in the Marine Corps.
But one thing I did know was that the man that stood before me loved me with all his heart and was committed to providing for me for the rest of my life.
After all, that’s what he had told me in his third or fourth letter to me after we had started dating. After just a few months, Grant had told me that he wanted to marry me, provide for me, raise a family with me, do ministry with me, and take care of me for as long as God gave me breath on this earth.
And when I read those words in that letter that day, I knew he meant every single one of them.
“GraceAnna, I hate saying good-bye to you.” Grant spoke loudly so that I could hear him over the engine noise. “Listen, don’t be sad because next time I see you, we won’t have to say good-bye anymore because you are going to become my wife!”
Grant leaned close to me and whispered, “Sure wish I could kiss you right now.” We had decided months before to wait until our wedding day to share our first kiss.
So instead Grant squeezed my hands, looked at me, and said, “Babe, I’ve got to go.”
I watched as he slowly backed away, still facing me, then turned and started jogging towards the C-130 where the other Marine were waiting.
Our time in Alaska together had been so good for us. In fact, now the number of days we had spent together was up to over twenty total.
Grant was with the other marines now and I tried to distinguish him amidst the camouflage.
Then I saw him raise his hand to get my attention. He flashed one last smile at me before boarding the plane.
As I got in the car, I watched as the grey C-130 made it’s way down the runway. I prayed that God would bring Grant safely back to South Carolina in August.
I knew I couldn’t bare life without him.
To be continued…