Jake was the best thing to ever happen to me. He made me a better person and child of God (and I’m sure he would say the same thing about me). God blessed me with an amazing, adoring husband. June 24, 2011 was the best day of my life–I married my best friend and love of my life. We were so happy and so in love. It was the beginning of forever in our minds. I remember being extremely terrified of the infamous “wedding night.” But Jake helped me through the nervousness and insecurity I felt. Jake had a way of just smiling at me and all my worries or all my annoyance with him would disappear. All it took to make me melt was one smile from him. He always knew just what to say (or what not to say). He knew that there were times I needed to be left alone. He was so patient with me and my hard-headedness… he definitely put up with a lot. But I know he did it because he loved me with every breath he took and every step he took. Again, I say… God has blessed me.
Then, August 24, 2013 happened. Jake and Tyler went out to Tyler’s deer lease for that weekend to be men and do manly things like shoot guns. They both loved guns and the outdoors (especially Jake). Jake had a “go bag” packed full of survival stuff…. many would think he was weird but he thought he was prepared. He even said one time, “just wait… I will be the man everyone wants to be around if the zombie apocalypse happens. They won’t think it’s weird then!” Oh my funny husband…. So the two of them went to the deer lease somewhere near Clifton, TX. Jake was soooooo excited!! He would not stop talking about it, and he made extra sure that all of his guns he took were ready and meticulously cleaned. Because that’s what he did. That same week we had just gotten a dog…a precious, cuddly, sweet boy beagle named Buddy. Jake melted when my sister surprised him on his birthday (August 20). When it was time for him to leave, I stepped in front of him and we hugged and kissed. I was sad he was leaving, so he said “babe, I’m coming back.” But he never did….
Tyler’s wife, Melissa, called me at around 5pm that day (they were supposed to be home around this time since Jake told me they left at 2:15 or so). I was walking Buddy. She asked me if I heard about the guys yet. I had no idea what she was talking about. “They were in an accident, and the hospital said Tyler was in critical condition.” She didn’t know anything about Jake. I was in sheer panic and was hysterical all the way back to our apartment. My sweet husband was hurt and I didn’t know where he was or how bad it was. Immediately I called my mom, and they came to pick me up. All we knew was we were going to Waco. I called Jake’s phone but there was no answer. Finally the hospital Tyler was at confirmed that Jake was there and that he was in “critical condition.” I remember panicking the whole way. I just wanted to know that he was ok or was going to be ok.
Running into the ER room, I ask the nurses where my husband was. They took me and my family and his family to a conference/family room. The trooper came in and took my ID to confirm who I was. Then the most heartbreaking and debilitating sentence came out of his mouth, “as you probably know, there has been a tragic accident, and Jacob didn’t make it.” My heart broke into a zillion pieces and I felt like I was falling into a dark abyss. My world came crumbling down around me. The man I had been married to for two years, the man I went to sleep with and woke up next to, the man who loved me more than anything was gone. Just. Like. That. I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had a long road ahead and I didn’t want to travel it. I remember asking God why. Why did you take my happiness from me? Why me? Why Melissa? Why Jake? Why Tyler? Why?!
I didn’t sleep that night. No one did. I couldn’t stop crying. The heartache was too much. I could barely eat…. it was hard to swallow food I was crying so much. I was broken. Then I had to do the hardest thing ever…. bury my husband too early in life. It wasn’t fair. None of this was. Not for me or Melissa or Jake’s parents or Tyler’s parents.
Then I remembered God. It was too much for me to handle. But not for God. While I was in that hospital, while I was the last person standing at the foot of Jake’s casket before he was lowered in the ground, I realized I needed God. And there was no looking back. God has carried me through these past six months as a widow. I imagine myself in a vast, stormy sea with waves threatening to knock me over and drown me. But God places stepping stones in front of me. Then I look back and see how far God has lead me.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse brings me great comfort. God has amazing plans for me. I have the opportunity to share my journey with others and inspire many.
And my journey has just begun….. I am going to “set the world on fire” for God. I choose to be better instead of bitter. I choose to allow God to use this mess so that He can bring out a message. I choose positivity and happiness instead of pessimism and fear. I choose God instead of Satan. And I choose the road less traveled….