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Forest of Love - Tree #8029

This tree was planted on Wednesday, November 14th 2012

This tree belongs to Paige and Justin.

 More Information:
Three months ago, I did the most difficult thing I've ever done in my entire life:

The day was sunny, with a few clouds, just like the normal days in August. The heat was already climbing, and I dreaded the relief of cooler weather in the evening. With that evening, I would be alone. Barely two weeks ago, we found out Justin was going to Afghanistan as a contractor. He was offered the job, with a sizeable salary, and we agreed to take it. Having just got out of the Marine Corps, it came as a shock. We figured that with his DD214 meant no threat of us ever having to spend time apart.

Now, just two weeks later, the day had arrived that I was to put him on a plane. I had cried once, already, but was planning on holding everything in until after he left. We spent the day together, eating, walking, talking... enjoying each other's presence. I marveled in everything about him: how his hands felt in mine, his smell, how his eyes sparkled with a joke. I never thought the day would come that we would have to face this.

I'm very proud of him, of his sacrifice, and of his willpower. He is very headstrong and determined. That day was no different. The time came, and we packed the car. I took a picture of him as he was walking towards the car. In it, he has his left hand stretched out behind him, waiting for me to grab it. To this day it is the most haunting picture I've ever taken.

We loaded the car and checked in at the airport. I tried to distract myself with everything I could. However, it would not work. Finally, he looked over at me and said, "It's time. Let's go get in line." My heart sunk at his words. I felt a knot forming in the pit of my stomach, and tears threatened to stain my cheeks.

I smiled, "Alright. Let's get you through the gate." I knew I couldn't go through there with him.

We stood in line, me clinging to him, and him giving me confident smiles every now and then. I couldn't help but notice the people around me. In front, there were a few people looking dressed for business. Behind, there were young adults, presumably heading off to college for the fall. Most of them were unemotional, or seemingly happy. It seemed the rain cloud over my head was solitary.

There were two people left. I felt myself starting to panic. 'No, I have to get through this. It'll be okay. We both wanted this.' Justin looked down at me. He seemed concerned. I gave him a little smile and looked away. I couldn't look him in the eye. I couldn't break down yet.

Now we were down to one person. I turned to hug him again. He saw the look in my face, and said, "Hey, it'll be okay. Don't be upset. You'll see me again, soon. It's only a year." With that, he kissed me. And I broke.

The tears started rolling, and he hugged me to his chest. He placed one hand around me, and the other on the back of my head. He held me tight. I cried, and said, "I have to go. I can't stay." He nodded, and kissed me one more time.

I had to get out before I panicked in the lobby. I forced myself, right foot - left foot, through the door. I pulled the keys out, and thought, 'Okay, three rows back, seven cars down.' Left foot - right foot. Left foot - right foot. Now, unlock the car. Get in.

I sat down, closed the door, and collapsed on the steering wheel, bawling my eyes out. I started gasping for air, not realizing I had been holding my breath. 'Did I tell him I loved him before I left? I know I've said it to him about 30 times since we got to the airport. But was it the last thing I said to him?' No, it wasn't.

And just like that, I tore my heart in two. He was getting on a plane, and I was going home.

It has been 3 months, 9 days, and 8 and a half hours since I put him on that plane. I miss him like crazy, and he has more than once told me he just wants to come home. But, we agree he needs to stay. We are going through our LDR (long distance relationship) one day at a time. One email at a time. One skype date at a time. It is difficult, but not impossible. I write on this virtual tree in hopes of looking back a year from now and realizing how much love we truly do have for each other, and that this year means one more stepping stone to the rest of our lives together.

I love you, Justin Brown. I'm waiting for you. Forever and always.

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