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The Goodbye

I look at my watch.  Again.  Five minutes.  I only have five more minutes until he has to leave.  Again…

This happens every single time.  He comes to visit for a weekend and it’s absolutely wonderful.  But at some point the weekend ends.  At some point our time runs out.  At some point he has to leave.  Again…

I wrap my arms around his waist and lean close into his chest.  I’ve learned that if I grit my teeth and look away, I’m less likely to cry…  He wraps his arms around my back and leans his cheek against the top of my head.  I grit my teeth harder and will the tears farther back.

It’s silent.

This is how it always ends.

This is how every goodbye begins.

Standing beside his car, still trying not to cry, I decide that talking might help me change my pattern of thinking.  If I can get my mind off of the inevitable goodbye, off of the negative time between, and onto the next visit, the next time I’ll see him, maybe I can get through this with a little more grace than I typically do.

“It’s only three weeks this time until I get to see you again!” I say in what I hope is a light, happy tone.  Of course, in my head I’m thinking, Three weeks.  Three weeks of long distance.  Three weeks of feeling like half of me is missing.  Three weeks…  “That’s only 21 days and that’s shorter than our normal four weeks apart.”  Sigh.  21 days is so short until it’s the 21 days he’s not here…

“I know,” he responds as he hugs me tighter.

He’s always so much more positive than I am.  It’s like I have this root of negativity in my mind that pops up whenever it pleases, which is often.  I’ve been praying about it…

“I’m gonna miss you, Brandon.  A whole heck of a lot.”  There they are.  I feel the tears stinging the backs of my eyes, begging to be loosed.  Deep breath.

“I’m gonna miss you too.  A whole, whole heck of a lot.”  He pulls away and looks at me.  He’s so serious, but a smile is playing at the corners of his mouth.

I smile up at him as a tear finally falls down my cheek.  How swiftly he wipes it away and another follows.  Dang it.  I was going to be good this time.  I wasn’t going to cry!  I think to myself.  Granted, I think those things to myself every time.  It only rarely works.

“I love you,” I say, trying to smile and keep the wobble out of my voice.

The answering gleam in his eyes is enough to pull me over the edge.  I tuck my head back into his shoulder and squeeze tight.  “I’ll see you in three weeks.  Not long at all.  You’ll be back before we know it.”  Even I’m not convinced… The wobble in my voice gives me away even when my face is hidden.

I look at my watch.  Again.  Two minutes…

“You need to go,” I say against his chest.

“I don’t want to leave.”  He squeezes tighter again.

“I know.  I don’t want you to leave either but we’ll be together again soon.  And one day I’m not gonna have to miss you so much.  One day you won’t have to leave me and I won’t have to leave you.”  Please let that day come soon, I silently pray.

He pulls my chin up and forces me to look at him as he says, “236 days.”

“236 days,” I echo.  “Then I’ll be your wife.  Then I’ll be able to see you everyday.  Then when we say ‘goodbye’ it’ll just mean that I’ll see you later that day.  I can’t wait to marry you.  236 days.”  So. Far. Away…

“I can’t wait to marry you either,” he says as he puts a hand on my cheek and wipes away the tears that are quickly replaced by new ones.  “I have to go.”  His words are so at odds with what I can see so plainly in his eyes: I want to stay.  He kisses me one last time and pulls away.  “I love you.”

It’s strange.  The moment he pulls away it truly feels as if a piece of me is left there, with him.  “I love you too,” I whisper as he turns away for the millionth time to get into his car to drive away for the millionth time.  I wipe at my tears.

I’ve endured five years of this.  Five years of waiting a month to see him for a weekend.  Five years of making the most of the time we have together and trying not to fall to pieces when we’re apart.  Five years filled with so many goodbyes…

I hate goodbyes.  Hate them.  Especially when they happen so often.  Especially when they are filled with so much emotion that you can’t even think straight.  Especially when they mean so much.

He turns his car on, rolls his window down, and tells me again that he loves me and will see me soon.  I return the sentiment and give him one last kiss before he pulls out of the driveway.

I stand on the porch, tears streaming down my face, as I watch him back away.  Just before he leaves, he holds up the “I love you” sign and smiles through his window.  I sign and smile back through my tears as he drives forward…  Away from me…  Again…

Every single time he leaves, I watch until I can’t see him anymore.  Until he rounds a corner or gets too far for me to see.  Sometimes I wait there for a while.  Sometimes minutes, sometimes longer.  Most times there are tears.  Most times the tears come more quickly and forcefully after he is out of sight…  But there’s something about watching him leave me.  Again.  And again.  And again…

Sometimes I catch myself thinking, This isn’t fair!  What did I do wrong?  Why does everyone around me get to enjoy their relationship all the time and I only get monthly visits?  Why do we have to suffer this over and over again?  For years!  Why didn’t my friends have to wait this long?  Why do they get to love each other so easily while we suffer again and again?

No!  I would NEVER wish this on anyone.  It sucks.  A lot.  Knowing that someone is your husband and knowing that you have to keep waiting and keep being apart is awful.  I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this.  I’m thrilled my friends didn’t have to wait 6 years like I will.  I’m so happy that they are able to love their people as often as they can.  And I know that I also have friends who haven’t yet found their person and I know that is extremely difficult: to watch everyone else experience what you are dreaming or praying or hoping for while you still can’t or aren’t.  And I know that there are so many other people out there waiting longer and traveling farther.  No, it isn’t fair, but as a wise woman once told me, “Life isn’t fair. Fair only comes once a year.”  

No one’s life is easy.  No one’s life is perfect.  If you think that it is, you’re either wrong or blind to the imperfections in your own life.  Sometimes it’s just harder than others…

I have to remind myself each time Brandon leaves that God has a plan for us.  And not only does God have a plan for us, but that this is His plan for US, not other people.  That God wants us to be in this exact situation at this exact moment for this exact amount of time.  I have to remind myself that the Lord is the only one who can help me get through the negativity, and the depression that comes with it if I don’t surrender my negativity to the Lord, when we are apart.  That may sound dramatic, but it’s the honest truth.  When we are apart, Satan uses any bit of negativity and turns it into something I fixate on if I am not careful to keep my eyes on God.  It is in those moments that I have to remember that regardless of what I want or think I need, God knows best and He has it all under control.

So, here’s to 230 days until our monthly goodbyes become a thing of the past and something we thank the Lord for teaching and guiding us through.  Here’s to 230 more days of learning through the distance and loving across the miles.

Gentry Bass

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Finally

If you would like to read the rest of our story, you can find the highlights of our four year journey up to this point here.

Allow me to set the scene for you: I was sitting on the couch and Brandon walked into the room.  It was such a typical, mundane act and yet it filled me with a shock of joy that I couldn’t contain.  Before I was able to suppress it, a brilliant smile broke the stillness of my face.  As he walked toward me, Brandon cocked his head and a slow smile spread across his face as well.  “What?” he asked.  “Nothing” I responded.  But then I really allowed myself to think about it.  As he sat beside me, I leaned my head onto his shoulder and quietly said, “I’m gonna marry you one day.”

Now, this happened about a year ago, and whereas it was most assuredly the first time I had spoken it aloud with such confidence, it had been a topic of quick conversation and much thought over the years prior to that moment.  However, even though Brandon and I had discussed it, the idea of actually marrying him and spending the rest of my life with him didn’t fully sink into my consciousness until that moment.  Until I saw him walk into the room and realized that he was indeed the man I would one day marry.

‘Maybe I’ll marry him one day‘ was nothing more than a fleeting thought in my subconsciousness that continued to make itself known time and time again, with more frequency the longer we were together.  But, me being me, I always tried to push it away and I never truly let it become a solid reality.  Instead, I would quickly follow thoughts of my future with things like, ‘but anything could happen!  Who knows what God’s will is for us.  Maybe it’s too good to be true and He’s just using this time we have together to prepare us for our separate futures…’  All completely valid thoughts!

If you’re thinking that I’m insane, especially after three years with the guy, then you would agree with pretty much everyone else I talked to.  Needless to say, that way of thinking didn’t last forever.  However, when I came to the realization that Brandon was indeed my future husband, things got rough.

I knew he was “the one.”  I knew I would marry him one day.  The problem was, we weren’t at all ready at that time for the next step in our journey: engagement.  So, the days went by as if in slow motion and my heart ached for the day we could finally move forward in our relationship because I was so tired of everything seeming so stagnant.

It was during this time that the Lord confronted me and tested my faith in His timing by helping me to overcome the quick, bitter pang I felt each moment I scrolled through social media and found another of my friends engaged or married, or even just moving forward in their relationship at all.  It took some time, but God is good and, thankfully, He is also patient.  I turned my bitter spirit, covered by a facade of happiness, into a true joy for those around me who had finally found the person they would love forever.  Then, He helped me to see that their joy in that moment and my prayers for them could fuel my joy in the waiting.  Don’t ask me how it makes sense, because it doesn’t in my mind; but God is greater and He helped me to see that in this particular season, just as I had numerous times before.

Almost a year later, I am happy to say that the Lord heard my prayer and has answered with more blessings and joy than I could have imagined!

Brandon and my friend Katie literally had to drag me to look at engagement rings.  And when I say drag, I mean that they lured me to the mall and then casually shoved me into a jewelry store against my will…  They’re the best… (note the sarcastic undertone)  But, I eventually warmed up to the idea and found a general style that I liked.  The thing is, I absolutely refused to pick a ring myself or even narrow it down too much, even though I had one in mind.  I wanted Brandon to pick my ring, and boy did he pick it!  Literally.  The exact one that I couldn’t get out of my mind.

On October 22nd, Brandon surprised me with a visit and also picked up my ring (which was the cause of the surprise visit).  Yes, I knew he was getting my ring, I just didn’t know which one it was at the time.  I was actually the one who carried the bag with the box with my ring in it from the car into the house.  Where it sat.  In my room.  Taunting me.  All weekend…  He’s nice like that…

So anyway, I knew he had the ring.  I knew I would say yes.  Now all I had to do was wait.  But praise the good Lord in Heaven above because I only had to wait a little while!

And so do you!  Next time I’ll tell you all about the proposal, but for now you’ll just have to wait!

 

 

Haha just kidding!!!  I’ll go ahead and tell you now.

On November 5th, my friend, Kayla, got married and she ever so lovingly allowed me to be one of her bridesmaids.  (Congratulations Kayla and Chad!  You’ve officially been married a week now!!)  Brandon came up for the wedding and we were able to dress up and have a fun night celebrating with everyone at their wedding (for future reference, some of those in attendance included: my best friend Katie, her boyfriend and my good friend Coryghan, my sister Lauren, and her boyfriend Josh).  Brandon even asked me to dance for the first time!  It was perfect, I was shocked, and the song was A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.

Katie, Coryghan, Lauren, Josh, Brandon, and I had all planned to go to dinner together the following day.  One thing you need to realize is that we aren’t the kind of people that typically dress up and go do things.  We’re more of a ‘let’s just be comfortable’ kind of group.  So, later that evening, when Coryghan told me to make sure that I dressed nicely for our triple date, I began to get suspicious…

My next moment of suspicion came when Brandon decided that we would ride to dinner with Coryghan and Katie, but we were going to make a pit stop (which just so happens to be WAY out of the way) at camp to see Lauren and Josh beforehand because Coryghan wanted to hand out there for a little while.  (Brandon did really well.  He made sure every piece of the plan came from someone other than him, but because I knew it was coming, I was suspicious.)

First off, remember, we aren’t really people who dress up just because.  Second off, no one ever dresses up at camp unless they’re trying to impress a boy they have a crush on or they’re at a wedding or other event.  In this case, neither was the cause.  Or, at least, that’s what I was supposed to believe.  I didn’t.  I knew then that Brandon was probably going to propose that day at some point.  Besides, where better to start the next part of our lives?

Brandon and I met at Camp Chula Vista in June of 2012.

Brandon asked me to marry him at Camp Chula Vista on November 6, 2016.

From the moment we stepped out of the car, I saw a picture that begged to be taken.  So I grabbed my phone, walked down the hill, and almost laid down completely in the grass just to get the perfect picture of the swing.  Then we moved closer to the lake and I started taking pictures of Katie and Coryghan as well as Josh and Lauren as we meandered around the lake.

There were many fantastic pictures taken that day, but my favorite one wasn’t taken by me.  It was taken at four different angles, with four different cameras, by four different friends.  It involves the man of my dreams on a knee, offering me a ring as a symbol of his love and devotion; as a symbol of the long life we will have together.  It involves a proposal, not only of marriage, but of trials and difficulty and a promise to stand together no matter what we face.  It involves a boy and a girl, ready to face whatever this life gives them with Christ leading the way.  This is that picture.

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He took me back to where our story began.  And so, the next chapter in our story begins much the same way as the first: a guy and a girl at camp, led by the grace of God, surrounded by friends, destined to love each other more tomorrow than they thought possible today.

As you can imagine, I said yes.

Your prayers would be very appreciated.  A long distance relationship is rough, but a long distance engagement is sure to test us beyond what we have previously known.  Planning a wedding while in school and working will be difficult as well, but we believe that this timing is of the Lord and we are confident that He will provide all of our needs and supply us with abundant joy and strength to face each mountain in our path.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us and encouraged us over the years.  It means the world to us and we pray the Lord blesses you beyond all measure!  Y’all are awesome and you have blessed my socks off with the level of support you have offered us.  So thank you.  A million times. Thank you.

Gentry Bass

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