One of the proudest moments for a military wife is when she is asked by her husband to pin him to the next rank. I barely remember Josh coming in to tell me (when he found out for sure) that he would be pinned on August 1, 2014 for Sergeant. I was so happy for him-in fact I remember asking Dr. Lee weeks prior, “Do you think I’ll be out of the hospital by August-I have to pin my husband he’s going to be promoted.” Looking back now, his response was always the same, “Let’s try for then, we will see though.” I now realize that this was his very gentle way of saying, “probably not.” Nonetheless, I was beyond proud of my husband. I wanted to attend that pinning ceremony on base more than anything! That’s what kept me going was having things to look forward to. Unfortunately, I missed two important events in both my best friend, Andrea, and my husband’s lives. I had been waiting years to be Andrea’s matron of honor and I waited even longer to pin my husband to the rank of Sergeant. These were huge milestones for both of them-and ulcerative colitis took both of those special days away from me. For that, I will always be both sad and upset that I wasn’t there to partake in their special events.
I remember when my mom, my mother in law and Josh came to the hospital and told me that we would have our very own pinning ceremony in the hospital for Josh. I was determined to pin my husband to the next rank, in a way-I earned it too. Some wives will say you should never wear your husbands rank and I agree-but when you stay with you husband from the rank of Private all the way up through–there’s something to be said for that. It was a happy time for us both, and I was excited and nervous for my husband’s co-workers/friends/fellow marines to see me in the state I was in. Unfortunately, from the plateletpheresis treatments along with my body enduring so much trauma in such a short period of time, everyone was able to look into my eyes and see the pain-literally. It was an odd vision, I’ll admit, but it was scary to look into the mirror-even for me. How could I expect anyone else to be able to look at me without wincing. From what I remember of the pinning ceremony that we held in Pomerado Hospital for Josh, no one looked at me strangely. They all had this open warm heart that wasn’t judgmental, however I remember not being able to look anyone in the eyes. I didn’t want to scare anyone and I also requested that no pictures be taken. I didn’t want anyone being able to look at me later on, nor did I really want to necessarily remember that I wasn’t able to pin my husband on base in front of his command and superiors in that patriotic outfit I had envisioned in my head.
Instead, I wore this very cute leopard print ensemble my mother had put together for me. With all the IV’s that were in my arms and neck it was hard to wear anything other than a hospital gown. However, my mom had purchased this leopard print dress and matching flip flops-an outfit I will never forget. It was beyond sweet, and only aided in creating a memorable evening.
Our mothers and friends did a great makeshift pinning ceremony for us though-I remember being so highly medicated that when I went to pin Josh I actually put it on upside down. Newhouse quietly whispered to me, “It’s upside down.” I remember snapping back into the reality of what I was doing at that moment and nervously giggled-as I think prior I was in a fog of pain medicine and uncertain feelings. Although everyone was supposed to be staring at Josh, in that moment, I could feel all eyes on me. Ethan Newhouse, Katie and Greg Hartig along with Diane and Alec Stoddard and their son stood around us as I pinned my husband. Without the help and support of our military family members as well as our mothers, I wouldn’t have the wonderful memory of pinning my husband. I will always be grateful and feel blessed that as my illness grew worse I had the support of other military families along the way.