Have you ever had a dream come true? Have you ever watched as, right before your eyes, the very thing you’ve been wishing, hoping and praying for comes to be? If so, I don’t have to tell you how amazing it is. You already know. It happened to me this weekend. And if I hadn’t had the presence of mind to immortalize it in pixels, I probably wouldn’t believe it was real.
I’ve never been what you would call “overly fortunate,” so I’m not used to things going the way I want/need/expect them to. In fact, it’s quite possible that I have the worst luck on the planet. It’s been suggested to me, on more than one occasion, that I get my catch phrase tattooed on one of the few un-tattooed parts of my body. What’s my catch phrase? Thanks for asking! (No, “thanks for asking” is not my catch phrase…that would just be weird.) Only me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself in absolutely impossible predicaments, where my only option is to laugh, shake my head, and say, “only me.” My close friends have adopted the phrase as well, and anytime I call one of them with another of my ridiculous stories, I know the response I’ll get every time. “Only you, Jenn. Only you.”
I never have nearly enough time or money for the things I need and want to do. I’m perpetually clumsy, and spend at least a month out of every year with a crippling injury of some sort. Most recently, it was a torn meniscus as a result of falling down the stairs, which had me hobbling around for the better part of two months. Usually, when I plan something, it falls through in one catastrophic way or another. Remember the story of Midas? How everything he touched turned to gold? I kind of have the exact opposite effect on things. If I touch it, it has a way of falling apart and turning to crap, no matter what “it” is. But every once in a while, something goes in my favor. And when that happens, I’m never prepared for it.
When I started my deployment blog, One Army Wife’s Tale, last May, I never expected anyone outside of my family and friends to read it. So when I began getting messages from people all around the world asking me when OAWT was going to be available in print, how they could get a copy of it, and when I was going to write a book, it was a little overwhelming. Given the subject I was writing about, my husband’s deployment, I couldn’t just sit down at the computer and “finish it,” wrap it up with a nice little bow, and send it to the presses. OAWT was a progressive story, one that told itself. I had to wait for my husband’s deployment to end to know how the story was going to end.
So during the hundreds of lonely nights I spent at the computer writing, crying, worrying, and missing my husband like crazy, I used to have this little daydream that would play itself out in my head. It was a year or so later (so…right about now) and the deployment was over. My husband was home safe, and I had in fact turned One Army Wife’s Tale into a book. I would walk into a room and find my handsome, non-deployed hubby reading a copy of the book I wrote about him, about our love, with a gigantic smile on his face. It seemed like too much to hope for. But I hoped for it anyway. And my dream did come true, just in stages.
First, my husband’s deployment ended. He came home from Iraq unscathed (physically, at least). Sure, he’s still stationed in Texas, over 1,200 miles from home, but Texas is better than Iraq. Then, I started the long process of turning all of my blog posts into a flowing, chronological story that told the tale of our deployment experience. It took FOREVER and I was sure I was going to lose what little bit of sanity I had during the process. But I did it. I received the very first print copy of One Army Wife’s Tale last week.
What was without a doubt one of the most important moments in my life occurred without incident. I got home from work last Wednesday and there, on my back porch, was a tightly wrapped brown cardboard box in the shape of a book. My kids were out of town camping with their father, The Hubs was in Texas, and I was alone. I sat down on the porch steps and slowly ripped the shipping tape from the box. Once it was open, I slid the book into my lap. I designed the cover myself, so I knew exactly what to expect. Black cover with a picture of a vintage typewriter and the title in pink lettering, my name in old typewriter print. The book was bigger and thicker than I expected, but that wasn’t at all a bad thing. It was perfect. It was my book. I wrote a book. And I had no one there to tell me congratulations or hug me or take me out to dinner to celebrate. I just sat, silently, as a few happy/sad tears rolled down my cheeks. Then I took a deep breath, grabbed my book, and went inside my big, empty house all by myself.
Two days later, The Hubs came home on a four day pass. One of the first things he did was pick up the book and inspect it, grinning from ear to ear with pride. Seeing him holding my book somehow made it much more real. A very, very short three days later, The Hubs put on his monkey suit and packed his duffel bag to fly back to Texas. I had to go to work after I dropped him off, so I was doing one last check to make sure everything was locked up and turned off before we left when I glanced out the picture window and saw a sight that stopped me in my tracks. My husband, in his uniform, leaning up against a tree, reading our book, smiling. I breathed a heavy, “Wow!” and then sprang into action. I knew this was a moment I was going to want to remember forever. I grabbed my phone (which is actually a better camera than my camera) and hurried outside. I snapped a picture of my husband reading One Army Wife’s Tale.
I stared at the picture our entire car ride to the coffee shop where we met up with The Hubs’ ride to the airport. We said our goodbyes and he left, taking my heart (and my only copy of One Army Wife’s Tale) with him. But I still have my picture. I’ve looked at it about a thousand times since I took it, just two short days ago. And every time, I smile. Every time, I have to fight back tears. Because I now know what a real-life dream come true looks like.
(And here is the one and only shameless book plug I’ll do, I promise: “One Army Wife’s Tale” is now available for purchase in print and for Kindle at Amazon.com, and at smashwords.com in all other e-book formats.)