I’ll Stand by You

Choosing our wedding song in the midst of tragedy.

APSolimando
Modern Women

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Marine home from war
My Marine home from war. Photo taken by Amanda Solimando from a video by Michael Vecchione

I dragged my feet off the bus after a long day at day camp one hot summer when I was 21. It was finally Friday, and I didn’t have to babysit on the weekend for the first time in weeks. Two whole days off. I’d been working as much as possible to save money for my upcoming senior year in college and to distract myself. My boyfriend had been in California for months, training for his upcoming deployment to Iraq. I needed a nap before convincing my sisters we needed to order several large pizzas for dinner.

I pulled up short when I reached my bedroom. Standing in the middle was my boyfriend. Was he a mirage? A fantasy I conjured up because each day without him felt like a year?

He smiled and opened his arms to me. Squealing, I threw myself into them. I had said goodbye to him at Camp Pendleton in California on the Fourth of July, thinking that would be the last time I would see him before he deployed. This surprise visit, five days to spend with his family, was a gift.

We barely left each other’s side that weekend, soaking up as much time as possible before he left. I’d sent other friends and family to war the year before…I knew how devastating each day apart would be once he was gone.

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APSolimando
Modern Women

Mom. Combat Veteran Wife. Runner. Writer. Believe Diet Coke and M&Ms will cure all problems. https://www.instagram.com/amandasolimando/ www.amandasolimando.com