Thursday, December 31, 2009
Love me through hell and high water and I will take you to a better place. Maybe even Olive Garden.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The desert I am surrounded by is littered with these innumerable scattered crescent shaped sand dunes. The curve of each dune facing the same way: the way the wind blows. Squinting, they resemble large croissants, which I love. And all I can think of is what a cool pattern it would be for pajamas. Croissant pajamas. They're going to be big. Some how the desert always makes me think of dessert which logically brings my mind, and stomach to you, whom I love. I miss you so much. We are lucky to learn early what life is like without each other; a lesson most under take (with the undertaker) when it's too late. I feel ashamed knowing I snuck out of bed some nights to check the tv for final football scores when I could have been lying next to you, or adventuring for a midnight snack alone, when it would have been so much more fun for you to come along. I promise I'll never do it again.
You know what I love about you? Besides everything- it's that you mkae me happy when you're not even here. I'll be under the most miserable circumstances, cold, wet, maybe a little afraid, but if I think of you I always smile. I get that feeling like I'm jumping on a trampoline for the first time in a long time.
I think about all the fun and crazy things we've done and the things I know we'll do and I see many happy days ahead of us. What an adventure it will be to start a farm together, to travel the world, chase our kids around the house trying to put clothes on them, which I wont blame their ardent resistance, when we know absolutely well we'd be running around in our underpants too.
Things I look forward to:
Saturday morning breakfast
A great dog
Bed time stories (after the kids')
FHE, which will consist soley of family wrestle mania tournaments and sorry attempts at hymn performances with old instruments.
Shelves filled with great literature
Helping our children with homework
Extreme (rabid) makeout sessions when we're 40, with heavy petting (because the prophet says its okay when you're married so we'll take full advantage)
------ ---- ----------
(censored for obvious reasons)
Taking the same classes at college so we can cheat off each other's homework [WHAT DREAM ON BUDDY]
Getting sent to the dean's office together.
Falling in love every day.
Monday, December 28, 2009
for the people who care
this is what it says:
I miss you so much, not even this empty desert is as lonely as I am. I guess the old adage is true, distance makes the heart grow fonder, maybe thats why so many people... nevermind. Anyways you are on my mind always, I hope you are safe and happy. I look at my pictures of you and still cant believe how I married such a beautiful lady. I cant believe I married the love of my life Jacqueline Francis! You make me so happy even when I am not with you just the though of you makes me smile. I say a thousand prayers a day that I will come home to your sweet face. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for deepening my smile wrinkles.
Yesterday I led my first combat patrol outside our outpost (the others were inside and mostly just to the chow hall). We went out to check on the trip flares surrounding the base. Most had been set off by animals.
I fell in a canal of water but overall it was succesful.
We did another this morning to a small village a mile away. Its funny we have these super cool vehicles that take us everywhere but yet we choose to walk.
We are very safe from IED's because there are so many goats around. All with 4 or more legs.
The people said we were scaring the women and children. I hid my disfigurments as best I could but to no avail they discovered my ugliness. We just might loose this war on account of my face.
I have no words brandon.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
"Dec 6, 1993, Dear Mr. & Mrs. Cochran, Just a note to update you on Brandon's behavior. Today, he told a girl she had eaten too many potatoes. She is over weight and his comment hurt her feelings. When I confronted him about his comments, he said that he was just giving her some valuable feedback and that he would be happy to jog with her at lunch. His apology did sound sincere. He is very good natured and takes these small repromands in stride. Sincerely, Mrs. Clawson..."
Brandon's mom sent me this today and I almost peed myself I was laughing so hard. I'm glad I can laugh about it now because four months ago after we first got married brandon mentioned that I was gaining weight. (We found out later that I was pregnant when we lost the baby) But at the time his comment really really hurt my feelings.
When I brought it up in a disagreement later he had no idea that it had hurt me at all.
Really people. REALLY.
He had the most sincere, complete intention of this meaning-
I want you to feel good about yourself- I want you to go to physical therapy and fix this knee problem so that you can hold our children and not be afraid of falling, I want you to want to FEEL healthy and happy.
He really meant that but it came out like this:
" I think you should come exercise with me"
As you can imagine I just about ripped my prince charming's head off.
But now I just think it's hilarious.
here's the rest of the letter the teacher sent home
P.S. We just had another incident. The DARE officer just arrived to take a picture of our class. We were chosen for special recognition with the City Council. Brandon hit the officer in the chest with a rubberband. Brandon told the officer he was aiming for a girl in the class, but she jumped behind the officer at the last minute. The officer was very upset and will not be taking our classes' picture. I will not be putting Brandon's name on the ICCM club list (I Can Control Myself)[WHAT HAHAHAHAHA] even though he has earned a startling $20 Clawson Bucks since the last incident."
[now everyone will know who the real brandon is] [honestly my family thinks they died and went to heaven when he is around, and that he NEVER misbehaves, NEVER belches or jokes about gas with me, NEVER hands me HUGE AMOUNTS OF horrifying hygiene products in walmart- declaring loudly to everyone around us that we better "stock up", and NEVER NEVER laughs insanely loud like a mental retard in public places to embarrass me.]
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Remember that time we got married forever? Remember what came before that? All of that? Well, this morning I laid in the little yellow room where we took our first nap together- and tried very hard to recall it all. This is our story and I want to right it down before it's left behind.
Do not take the darkness of the night,
because distant is the dawn.
Do not forget the sweetness of summer,
because winter isn't gone.
Do not fear your love
For better things come,
to those who wait.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Mr. Cassone, whose son Richard is serving as a sergeant in Afghanistan, sent this essay to the Complaint Box on the City Room blog this weekend. The City Room editors thought it was more of a poignant story than a complaint and thought At War readers might appreciate it. We did, too.
Hey, I’m the guy you just about blasted out of his driver’s seat with your horn when we missed the green light at the mall entrance. Anyway, I’m not mad about it. We’re all under a lot of pressure this time of year. Before you know it, Christmas morning arrives, and so there’s not much time to get the right stuff for everyone. And not only did we miss that light because I was daydreaming, but we also would have surely sat through another one if you hadn’t honked, because I really wasn’t there. You couldn’t have known, but I was so very far away at the time, in a place that I’ve actually never been. I was in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
I wasn’t paying attention because I was wondering what my son, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, was doing right then, though it’s nine and a half hours later there. Like so very many other parents and loved ones of deployed personnel, I know very little about what my son does. I do know the name of his job; he’s a forward observer with a small company out of Camp Pendleton called First Anglico. I know that he is deployed with British and Afghan soldiers and that he calls in air and artillery support for their combat operations, but I don’t know what he does from moment to moment, and so sometimes I can’t help but sit and wonder. I did ask him last Sunday when he grabbed the satellite phone to call me for a minute or two, but he would only say that he was doing what he had joined to do. And that he’s doing it while sleeping in a frozen tent that he shares with a bunch of mice and a stray, flea-bitten cat, a supply of Ziploc baggies for toilets and not much in the way of entertainment, not that he’d have time for that. And even so, nighttime is the easy part of his day. And that’s when you honked.
The thing is, there are tens of thousands of daydreamers like me. And a vast majority of them will put the experience behind them like I did after my son’s last two deployments. They will all forget about the background noise of a very personal war that they lived with while their loved ones were overseas. They will forget the fears they suppressed, confronted and then suppressed again. They will forget about having crept their car up to their driveway after work, peeking in at the dread of an imaginary black Crown Victoria with United States government plates that might meet them there. They will forget all about that, and then they’ll start worrying about Christmas and other holidays again. They’ll worry about getting the right gifts and decorations at the right price and having it all in the proper places in time for the kids to get up. And then they, too, might get impatient and honk at the guy in front of them when he’s too slow at the light pulling into the mall.
But there are also many for whom Christmas will never be the same. The worst parts of their daydreams will have become reality. They were met by that Crown Vic, and so for them, there will always be a stocking that goes unfilled and an empty place at the table where the most enthusiastic and promising member of their family once sat. And like the daydreamers, you’ll never know who they are when they pass you on the street or miss a traffic light when you’re in a hurry. But for them, when they get lost in their thoughts, their daydreams are no longer taking them overseas. They are bringing them back to other Christmases and birthdays and summer vacations when their Marine was still around. So just this once, could you let them stay there for a moment longer and miss that light?
Friday, December 18, 2009
He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.
With labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were it not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven.
There, spread out up on newspapers on the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favorite chocolate chip cookies.
Was this heaven, or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?
Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table. The aged and withered hand, shaking, made its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when he was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife.
"Stay out of those," she said. "They're for the funeral."
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I've never been patriotic.
Don't shoot, don't shoot!
And you know what else? It's been really hard to have any of those feelings when I could be so so bitter to this whole war, and to the simple and sad fact that every single day while Brandon is gone, I worry about these things that no wife should ever have to worry about. (I'm not complaining, and Brandon never complains, in fact- the knowledge of these pitfalls make me so much more grateful for what I HAVE.) (even if I don't have him). These are brandon's living conditions.
1. A broken heater in -20 degree weather in a tent in the desert
2. A sleeping bag built for 0 degree weather only.
3. Men who he loves more than he loves himself
4. Food in a bag every day
5. patrols through foreign villages with a variety of people who hate him and his country
6. night watches that allow him to "sleep" during the day while everyone else is blowing things up, shooting, and running around.
7. Letters about once a month
8. A broken phone
Brandon, are you eating? are you sleeping? are you happy? are you sad? do you know how much I love you? are you warm? are you safe?
But you know something?
I've really had to find a reason why this war means more to me than just because my husband's life is on the line
I feel like this quote describes how I'm learning to feel about the war.
" War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much, much worse.
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety is a miserable creature; who has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
I'm not saying brandon is better than you. or me, or anyone else.
But I do think, that our generation is under-informed, impatient, ignorant- and selfish.
Again that's a generalization- I don't mean all people are that way- and I don't KNOW all people.
Last night brandon called from a different base where he was attending an Intelligence brief. He told me these comforting, soothing, peaceable, fantastic words.
"After this, I don't ever want anything to do with the military again. I want to grow my hair out, buy a vw bus and wear bell bottoms for the rest of my life."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Good to know four days AFTER you should have called.
I'm going to take out a chunk of you when you get home.
Megan, you save my life from terror and worry.
I am going to GO
because that's been lacking recently.
Due to the unfortunate event of the breakage of the phone.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
MOST importantly I needed to share the hope on top of hopes- that a heart breaks, expands, and heals.
And she needed to remind me, how lucky and important it is to have the priesthood in my home- even if my husband isn't here physically.
His spirit touches my home, and my heart wherever he is.
That's something I never took into stock.
In my house growing up- we recieved blessings before school and if we were especially sick, but it was hard for me to just ask for a blessing. When I moved away to school, specifically during this heartbreak I referred to earlier, I realized that I could reach out to any priesthood holder, and that they could bless my life in friendship, and mostly through them, God himself could heal my life, my blunders. And comfort my perspective, my head, and my heart.
I really believe that.
In many many selfish ways, I could have looked at that relationship as a waste of time, of effort, I could suppose that it took a lot from me that I would never get back.
But that was wrong.
Love is never being sorry that you gave in the first place.
I'm not sorry that Brandon is gone doing what his heart tells him to, because I am always there, and he is always here.
And it took more fumbling and bumbling and breaking and tears and joy too- to realize all that.
I'm a clumsy person, and I experience those things expectedly, but when do I begin to experience joy?
Precisely when I choose it.
Heartbreak, is the refinement of love.
It takes what isn't working
pieces it apart,
and learns to build it back into something better.
And not just for one person.
The all encompassing universality of that single emotion leaves me in awe and wonder.
It inspires me
to love more, to fear less.
I am going to borrow from Dickens (it seems that's all I do these days reading Nicholas Nickleby) (I am dictionaring my way through it- thank you kindle)
God bless you,
and love you.
okay I'm off my soap box and into bed I promise.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I wonder every day how you chose me of all the people in this earth.
Thank you for calling me this morning, even though it kept hanging up it was still important to me that you made the effort to tell me in between cracking and silence how much I mean to you. This marriage is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me and probably ever will happen (crossing fingers for baby life happening when you get home). This thanksgiving it went without saying that I am grateful for you- but I think it's more important to say that outloud to you and show you with whatever I can by sending boatloads of mail and today I built the best care package EVER.
There is so much you are missing, and I am just missing you. There's an old house down the road that looks like its abandoned and from england. And further down the road there is a daycare called ADVENTURE TIME.
Will you come with me there when you get home?
p p s
thank you for calling me again today. that makes TWO times.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I miss you so much.
I'm making my first cobbler
I'm so glad we got married forever.
and past then too.
I know what we'll be doing in the next life
adventure after adventure.
after thanksgiving this year i'll make a really good weight.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
wish you could be here for t day
we are having a tofurky thanksgiving.
itshould be interesting to say the least.
last night i couldnt sleep
i was scared and being a big baby
and then this morning i woke up and my keys were in the front door.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Megan told me about this motomail thing so I thought I'd give it a go- save on stamps and send packages instead. Although, I'm not quite sure what to send in a package yet. Don't worry, I'll get clever before you get home.
Will you marry me?
There is a certain star that hangs below the moon here. I know by now after years of visiting my grandfather in orem and him telling me over and over the name of the planet that shines so brightly in the sky just now that I should remember it's title. At this very moment that doesn't mean much.
Throughout history people have used the night sky for sentiment. Found solace in the stars. That small star, trying so hard to be bigger- mimicking the moon.
It's not the name of the planet, or the star or the sky in which it rests
tonight it is you.
You're not a planet. or a star or the moon
You're the mystery that surrounds the sky
the deepest hope of more.
During the day the sky plays a lighter role
literally and figuritively.
It hovers silently, blue and happy, uninterfering
lovely and cool.
It's that knight
that brings the dark, brooding corners of the human soul and paints it onto a still canvas.
It is so beautiful.
I wonder at that bright spot
how it hangs there,
happily in the middle of the darkness.
I see you. Do you see me too?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Almost as good as the thoughts I have of you right when I wake up and before I sleep at night.
Sometimes I catch myself waiting for your step in the hallway, for you to jump on the bed and tickle me until I can't think in one direction.
I have to do what you told me to,
I put you in a box.
But don't worry because I put air holes in the top.
I have to remind myself not to take you down and look at you all the time.
But it's hard to do since I bent the rules by putting pictures of us all over our house.
Can I call it our house?
Even if you aren't here.
It is hard to think of home without you.
So I am sort of homeless.
In this 900 sq foot yellow cottage with the green door
this week everything went wrong.
I'm just about fit to be tied, and then I get on my knees and God reminds me of all the good there is.
But for right now, when you are away fighting your battle,
I am at home fighting mine.
The orem police department woke me up yesterday at one in the morning to tell me my garage door kept opening and closing
so it looks like not just the squash room is haunted.
I've been so sick I don't know when I will get a chance to repair it.
Going outside means exposing myself to that cold cold mountain air.
Although I am certain after I've had EVERY seasonal sickness that ever existed
I will be invincible.
The internet stopped working unless I sit in THIS exact spot, and never move.
I've gone through almost five boxes of lotioned tissue
until my nose began to bleed terribly last night.
Since then I have reason to believe that the cold has moved on
to my lungs.
Hot water and salt and hot water and tea and soop and I'm trying to eat salad but it sounds so. green to me.
I missed my first work meeting last night, I sounded like a 80 year old woman (or man) who has been smoking all his or her life.
The brand new washer and dryer came yesterday
and after the first load the dryer stopped working.
I don't know what to do.
The oven has a gas leak,
the disposal doesn't work.
There is a four inch gap of cold air coming in under the back door.
Brandon, how do I do it without you?
Saturday, November 14, 2009
My dear at this time when endings are uncertain and the unknown taints our hope with question, my thoughts inescapably turn toward flowers; not only because I see so much of them in you, or because some of them can be eaten, but because the Lord has commanded me to pattern my life after them. I love flowers. Their versatility in emotional expression is appropriate everywhere; but, if we value the flowers outward beauty alone we’ll miss the entire purpose of the flower itself. A flower does more than console and congratulate, it teaches one how to live, making me wonder - as I watch the florist cut fresh roses, wrap them and tie them with ribbon, who is arranging who? And what lives, homes and heart will they yet arrange.
At one time or another all lives need arranging. Especially now do I need to remember the lesson of the flowers, to: search inward, reach outward, look heavenward, and to bloom repeatedly.
When I take time at night to examine heart, my desires and my concerns I find it filled with you. It is filled with gratitude for the blessing of being married to such a beautiful person, both physically and in heart. Someone who makes me laugh constantly and aware of what is beautiful in the world. I remember my last time sitting in the Ghana Accra temple celestial room just before I returned home from my mission. I was tired. My hair bleached blond from two years in the African sun. I was the only one in the room. I closed my eyes and began a silent prayer. I prayed that the lord would help me live my life in such a way that I could find you, my wife. Just before I closed my prayer I saw a glimpse, a second of what the future would bring if I lived my life right. I was sitting at a stop light in my car on 1600N 400E in Orem driving west. Next to me was the prettiest girl with wavy brown hair, the most beautiful eyes and captivating smile. We weren’t talking, just quiet and happily holding each other’s hand. It was night time and we were on our way back from my parent’s house to our home in south Orem. I know that girl was you. I think you have been in my heart from the time I was a young boy. I’ll never forget the first time I saw you. I think my heart stopped. I felt this great energy that I had to talk to you. I had to get to know you, even though it was inconsistent with my nature to approach women I didn’t know. I said probably the shortest prayer of my life when I saw you walking toward me, simply I said, as if the prayer connection was already made and God knew I was talking to him, “Help”. You know what happened but the help came. Three years later. Sometime life is like that. I loved how you popped in and out of my life during that time. In between relationships I would creep your facebook awed that god would put someone as beautiful as you on the earth knowing full well that you’d make everyone else look bad. Ironically as much as I curse this war, it is what brought us together. For some reason the war gave me the courage to risk what I had always protected too cautiously-my heart. I decided that I could never live knowing that I hadn’t put everything on the line to be with you, even if it meant getting hurt. I’m so glad I searched my heart and found courage there. Every hour spent on that long dark highway was worth it. If these three short months of being married to you is all I get it was worth it. I thank God every night for you.
A good friend of mine once told me, “ If you ever break down, stop and build a service station”. I have always be amazed at the paradox that the only true way to build one’s self is buy building up others. I wish I could say I was good at this, that I wasn’t selfish, or had a tendency to look for my own benefit first, to make sure my feelings were being regarded and taken care of and not the other person. This is one on my goals over the next seven months: To learn to love others more than myself. I want this because I want to be able to love you better, to care for you better, to treat you as what you are- my wife, my love, my Queen. I have found such great joy I simple acts of service. They help me forget my self, expand my heart, and give me joy where joy is seldom found. Sacrificing a few prized M&Ms rarely found in an MRE to an on-looking Marine nourishes me so much more than if I just ate them. Just as flowers must spread their roots to survive so must we spread our roots into the lives of others. You are a great example of this to me. A person heard sneezing a mile away will hear a faint “bless you”.
Flowers teach us to constantly look to the true Son for light and nourishment. I want share my testimony of him to you. I know he lives, that he walked on this earth performing miracles of healing the sick and lame. But, to me the greatest miracle was the healing of sin. I know the Atonement is real and working. I thank the Lord for his saving grace that takes us farther than we are able to take ourselves. He died so we might live. He broke the bands of death. One of my favorite poems is my John Donne called Holy Sonnet X
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
I love that. There is nothing to fear in death. It is but a doorway. It is part of the plan. It is the only way we can return to be with God again. A prophet has said that God never takes a righteous man before his time. I am so grateful for the restored gospel. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to teach it on the African continent and that I can be an example of its teaching here in the Marine Corps. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I cannot read its words without feeling its power. It has changed my life. My consistency in reading it has always correlated to my consistency in making righteous choices. I have a testimony of the sealing power of the temple. I know that we are the beginning of an eternal family. I love the thought of eternity with you. I know there will be attending angels watching over us during this time. God does hear our prayers. He will come to us in our time or need.
I think sometimes in life we hit a rut and become comfortable. We stop growing and progressing. It is essential for me while in Afghanistan to never become complacent, to never let my physical or my spiritual guard down. I must watch for spiritual enemies just as intently as I will watch for the Taliban. But I wonder which is more dangerous? I fear sin more than the Taliban.
I want you to know you are the love of my life, that these last three months have been the happiest of my entire life. I love you so much. It is eleven hours difference from Utah to Afghanistan so when it is 7PM in Utah it is 6AM in Afghanistan. I will always think of you at that time. I can’t wait to be the father of your children, to raise a family with you, to grow old with you. We have so much ahead of us. The best lies ahead. Let’s go forward in great faith searching inward, reaching outward, looking heavenward, and blooming repeatedly over the next few months. I pray all God’s choicest blessings will attend you while I am away. That heaven will hear your prayers and comfort you heart.
Your missing peace
Yesterday I didn't get a chance to say all the things i love about you! These things are many.
I'll start with your head. Your reckless hair (whose roots may have branched into your brain), which I love. Your mind. I want to hook your head up to speakers and a projector (if you don't mind) because the glimpses I caught of the concoctions happening in there are the finest things I have ever seen or heard. Eyes, ears, mouth, and nose, and all other condiments to your face reminds me that no matter how well artists try to imitate the beautiful in life its just not like the real thing. You are beautiful in a rare way. Like the world's night lights, or a young unicorn. And the rest of your corps: venus de milo, but with arms and a way better face. I love your laugh and your smile (of which you have many. my favorite is the one when I know you love me, and the mischievous one, and the one before we eat). I have never been bored when I am with you. You always make me laugh. And no matter what crazy thing I need you to do for me (like wake up at 4am and take me to work) you always love me, and want to see me even if it is inconvenient. You make me the most delicious food, and recommend the best books. You are so good with kids. i think all the babies in the world would want you to be their mother.I love that you married me. I love your unwavering loyalty to me, and those you love. You always put love first in your life. I love your close relationship with God. I even love the way you drive, and your road rage. I love how you are always humming, and always have a glass of water by your bed and sometimes forget to flush the john. I love that you let me be me. i love That you accept all my primitive manly ways, and love me for who i am, and help me see who i can become. I love you for loving me and being a part of me and that I am not me without you and If i think of me i think of you and I am no more i but us, and we. And i want to be with you forever just how you are and I can't even imagine all the laughter that lies ahead of us.
i love you because i do.
because you are you.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
i have so much life left that i need with you.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
hellow swweeet heart that is sweet to my heart.
i just want you to know
how much fun it is
thinking about you there
and wondering what forests and
worlds our thoughts