Sunday, December 11, 2011

And the Award for Best Husband Goes to...

The then 2nd Lt. Scott and Mrs. Leia Johnson
My husband and I have been married for eight years.  Out of eight years, we have spent two of our anniversaries together.  Such is the life of the military family.  We aren’t big gift givers.  The thing we would always like most would be to go to dinner, maybe catch a local play, and then make a stop by Barnes and Noble for mochas and browsing for books without children.  

This year, he’s gone again, and I figured we’d have a “Happy Anniversary!” phone call as close to the actual day as possible.  He might send flowers, but I certainly wouldn’t expect them.  We would make mention of the day in small ways and continue to count the days until he gets home.  Simple enough.
I have this friend, Sarah, who has been in my life for a little over eight years.  We met on a medical mission trip to Peru, where we lived on a 800 square foot houseboat with 22 people for two weeks.  There were 21 beds.  So, Sarah and I, the smallest members of the team, got to share a two-inch thick, two-foot wide “mattress.”  We took ONE bath during the trip.  In the Amazon River.  At one point, the team lost us in Iquitos, a drug war hotspot, and we sat on the stairs of the Catholic church in the town square, hoping the team would find us before sundown when the rioting would start.  Eight years later, we are both married and have five children between us, and there isn’t a person on this earth I’d rather get lost with in the middle of a South American drug war.
She called me last week and said she needed a night out without kids.  Her youngest is eight months old, so we’d have to work around her nursing schedule, but you can get a lot of girl time in in three hours.  Our plan was to grab a drink at a restaurant by her house, and then move on to Paseo Grill--one of our favorite restaurants and one best attended without greasy-handed, sticky-faced toddlers.

I picked her up, and we headed to our beers at VZD’s, where we made up fake names for the night and started working on our stories.  You know--the fabulous lives of Kate Brady (Tom Brady’s sister-in-law) and Veronica.  I didn’t have a back story yet because we were interrupted by this creepy guy who wanted to tell us everything he had learned about the oil and gas industry during his recent internship at Chesapeake.  Also, he needed answers to his burning questions, most of which revolved around Jesus being a Pisces.  When I told him Jesus wasn’t born in December, it blew his mind.  Anyway, I digress.
I snapped a picture of us to post on Facebook, labeling it, “Look who I momnapped!”  I was so proud to have gotten her out of the house for a night on the town.  We were having a lovely night conversing with the local bar weirdo, and it was time to move on to Paseo Grill.  I could taste the fried green beans and mushroom soup, as we headed down Western.  When we arrived, I told the hostess, we’d be happy to sit at the bar, as there were only two of us, and we didn’t have a reservation.
Luckily, there was an open table, so she led as into the restaurant.  As we passed the bartender (a former student of mine), he smiled and waved, right as the back room of the restaurant erupted with a “SURPRISE!”
In the dim lights, I couldn’t tell at first what was going on.  But as my eyes adjusted, I realized all of the people in the back of the restaurant were my friends.  And my mom.  And Scott’s mom.  And then, I figured it out.  My friends, knowing I would be sad on my anniversary, had secretly gathered to celebrate it with me.  I moved to hug each person, and Sarah leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Scott did all this.  This is all Scott.”

Thank you, Jennifer, for documenting my graceless fall-apart:

We snapped this picture at the end of the night.  I could write a blog post about every single one of these ladies and the impact they've had on my life.  Pages and pages and pages.  I will also never make any of them mad because they know all my secrets.
The most obvious thing I can say is that I was stunned (like couldn’t move or talk and might have been twitching a little bit) at the thoughtfulness this involved.  Any person--and let’s be real, ladies--any MAN who would have the foresight, awareness, and consideration to organize something this massive (I will describe how the night got even better below) can only be described as being the best human being I know (which is exactly how I described him in my Facebook post because I knew that would be the fastest way to let him know his gift had been received).
But here’s the deal.  This wasn’t just any man.  This was a man who is currently deployed.  This is a man who by the end of this deployment will miss Halloween, his birthday, Thanksgiving, his youngest son’s birthday, his eighth wedding anniversary, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  This is a man who is on a horrid sleeping schedule, who has to walk in the cold from his crappy dorm room just to go to the bathroom, who got kicked out of the chow hall for wearing the wrong socks, who has limited/unreliable internet access, who gets cut off during sparse phone calls, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders as he is fighting a war, and who still had the presence of mind to think about someone else.
Most of our communication these days happens on Facebook, and I didn’t think anything of it when I saw that he had become friends with several of my friends in the last couple of weeks.  I figured he just friended them after hearing my stories about going to dinner or drinks or movies or playdates with them for the last six weeks that we’ve been home.  So, it’s no surprise that he used Facebook to contact two of my closest friends, Sarah and Erika, to be his on-the-ground helpers.  Between the three of them, they made reservations, ordered flowers (more on that later), and contacted all the attendees.
A few minutes after I arrived, we were all seated--my mom, Scott’s mom, and seven of my closest friends.  My dad and the boys walked in to tell me “Happy Anniversary!” before skipping out for a boys night at Chick-Fil-A.
About ten minutes later, Jefferson showed up.  Let me tell you a little bit about Jefferson.  A million years ago, fate brought us together as driver’s ed partners.  Little did I know I would eventually marry his life-long best friend.  When I was pregnant with Ben, I waited to find out the gender until I could be at home with my family because Scott was deployed.  We scheduled the appointment with a family friend OB/GYN during a time when Scott could call for the results.  Jefferson was the only man other than my dad whom I asked to attend.  He’s the most gracious, loving stand-in a girl could ask for.
So, it was completely appropriate for him to show up with a bouquet of flowers and a letter from Scott, which he read while I nearly collapsed under the table.  We were a table of ten women, crying together.  At that point, someone had to explain what was going on to the tables around us, as we probably looked like a circus sideshow.
Last but not least, Sarah pulled out her phone for a collective reading of a message from Scott titled, “The Ten Things I Love Most About Leia.”  More crying ensued, and thankfully our appetizers arrived to give us something with which to soak up the tears.  The dinner was delectably perfect.
I said good-bye to Jefferson (whose wife deserves a shout-out for letting us borrow him while she was at home with their two-year-old and newborn!), our moms and the four pregnant/nursing people and enjoyed the rest of the night by crashing a Christmas party.  More fun times with fun people.
Here’s what I’ve decided.  I am willing to forgive Scott and all of my friends for their deception.  There is no way to adequately describe how blessed I am to know such an incredible group of liars.
I have been racking my brain to figure out a way to organize an anniversary party for Scott on the other end, but seeing as how I don’t have a phone number to call to make a reservation in the chow hall, I guess I will just have to keep raising our babies and trying my best to (in his words) be “the most amazing woman, friend, mother, and wife a person could ever hope for.”  I’d say it’s a fair trade.
And now, because I never get tired of looking at these, here are a few of my favorite pictures from our wedding:
No idea what was happening here, but it's typical.
And here is the lovely Jefferson grabbing Scott's crotch.
In the only picture we have of the two of them.  Special.
People risked life and limb to get to our wedding during one of the worst ice storms in OK history.
I should have known then what kind of dedicated people I was dealing with.
We walked out to the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." 
Even mushier.
Laughing about taking mushy pictures.
Happy anniversary, babe!  Ironically, he won't be able to read this post because the firewall blocks my blog where he is, but it's the thought that counts, right?  And happy anniversary to everyone else since we've made it a world-wide effort this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


  1. What a beautiful surprise! He certainly is a super guy. I love the photos, you two look like you were made for each other. Your dress and veil are so lovely.

  2. Scott may get mushy, he may even cry, he might be too nice and give away all his cards during a game of Settlers, but he also loves you with all his heart and soul. This world-wide coordination must be what he and Josh spent six months learning to do at the WIC. Guess it came in handy. Happy anniversary!

  3. Swoon city. Great post!! Hope your holidays were awesome. XOX