I checked the time on my phone. I knew it was far past time for his return. My legs felt like Jell-O as I stood on that boat ramp. I felt the presence of my best friend, Alisha, sneak up to stand by my side. The rest of the clan remained a few feet behind me as to give me space. At this point, I was fighting the tears and Alisha was trying to find the words to keep me calm. I looked at the time again and just quietly mumbled to Alisha, so Greg and Alexandria didn’t hear, he should have been in by now.
It was in this moment I thought about everything. The way he gave me morning wake up calls with little neck nibbles and a soft rub on the back. The way he brought flowers home on any day other than Valentine’s day, because he knows that means more. The way he squeezes the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube to correct my squeezing from the middle. The way he always tries to remind me I am enough. The way he self-sacrificed as I chased my dream of becoming a wedding photographer, backing it with being my second shooter. The way he always puts the kids and I first, even if it means he only owns 2 pair of jeans. I even thought about his annoying quirks, like his need to fall asleep with the TV on, though I prefer complete silence. Dropping his clothes all around the hamper, but never inside. Dumping his pockets out every evening on the table, receipts, change, lint, and all. Never putting up food he gets out to eat. His innate need to iron his clothes, but never putting up the iron and ironing board.
It never occurred to me how much I would miss the annoying quirks.
It was at the moment I started to prepare for the worst, when I heard Alexandria yell, I think I see him.
You see dear internet, Jerry Don devoted a large part of his life to my business. He dealt with the sweat, blood, tears, and never once complained as he chased after bottled water for my brides, held my 20 bags of lenses, flashes, and other heavy equipment, reminded me to breathe before each ceremony. He dealt with my constant critiquing and my annoying perfectionist ways. In the end, he was an amazing second shooter. And, once I felt like my business was at its peak, I looked at my handsome husband and said, what is your dream? Part of me regretted the question, because I never dreamed the answer would be so crazy.
Which leads us to this moment. Kansas City 70.3. And he was still in the water well beyond the time when training. I strained to look as Alexandria was so certain it was him. I pulled up my 70-200, not for a photo, but to use as binoculars. A breath of air left my lungs, relief consuming me, as I could see Jerry Don’s little head bobbing up and down in the water, with about 50 yards left to go. The rest of the clan, 9 of them, started screaming words of encouragement and all I could do in that moment, was thank God.
I have a fear of water. My swimming doesn’t usually include me fully submerging. I didn’t used to be like this, and not sure when it changed. But I do know, for the last few years, swimming hasn’t been a necessary activity for me. Yet my daughter and husband love it. And here I stood, watching my husband return from a 1.2 mile swim. I just wanted to get him out of the water, and the rest of the day would flow with just a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run left. At least he wouldn’t drown.
To be a triathlete. That was his dream. To call himself a triathlete. And though I was terrified, I supported his dream in any way I could, as he did me. It was a long 2 years of training, with sweat, blood, and tears, successes and failures, but June of 2o14, he completed his first half Iron Man, and it all paid off. Internet, I can not tell you how light I felt the minute he crossed that finish line….
Since that day, I have tried not to take my amazing husband for granted. It’s a work in progress. But, this I know. I will always remember that moment on the boat ramp. The moment when I thought I was going to lose my partner in crime and best friend. And for that, I will treasure all my moments, with the man I love.
To my friends. You don’t know what it meant to me for your support and just being there for me emotionally. I realize I would have never pushed past a possible nervous breakdown, had you not been by my side every step of the way that day. Words will NEVER express what your presence did for Jerry Don and I. Never.