Wednesday, September 17 was Aaron and Ryan's 25th birthday, and they had to celebrate it on different continents. Ryan has been in Iraq for about 3 weeks now and we've gotten to talk to him several times now. He volunteered for this deployment and as weird as it sounds, we were all so happy for him that he got his orders because we knew how bad he wanted to serve his country in that capacity. I was happy for him when he got his orders and while he trained for three months in California, but then the day he arrived in country is when I quit being happy and just got scared and anxious. There is nothing easy about a son, brother, husband, or loved one going to war, and I don't care how many times you have to do it, it does not, and should not, get easier.
The only two things that comfort me are knowing that we have a sovereign God who does not make mistakes and the fact that Ryan is a well trained Marine machine and he is ready for anything that comes his way. He has been training day and night with other Marines who have his back and he has theirs. Its still sad with him not around, because he makes everybody smile. Please add Ryan to your prayer lists. Pray that God will comfort him and continually reveal Himself to him in the midst of what he is going through.
Aaron did not have a good birthday. He had class all day, and then had to study late into the night. To make matters worse, the present I bought had not come in yet, so he did not get one present, not even as much as a birthday card. I felt so bad the next morning that I made him breakfast in bed (pancakes and coffee) and just hoped that his present would come in before 5:30 when Aaron would be home. Sure enough, at 4:50, Mr. FedEx was ringing my doorbell, and this is what he brought Aaron:
Aaron wanted to make his hunts a little more exciting by using a bow and arrow instead of a rifle. He immediately started playing with his new toy and studying it and watching the DVD that came with it. When he put it down after about six hours of messing around with it, I picked it up and started to pretend to shoot Jake. Notice the difference in the pictures above in the way Aaron holds the bow and the way I hold the bow. This is how Aaron explained it to me - "The way I hold it allows me to shoot the enemy. The way you hold it allows you to shoot yourself." By the enemy, he means a deer. So when he was making fun of the way I was holding the bow, I was making fun of him for calling a deer his enemy.
I also managed to get Aaron a second birthday present, and it is something I am particularly proud of. But I'm going to have to back up and explain it a bit first. We had the honor of going to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul because Aaron was a delegate. It was one of the coolest things we've ever done and definitely witnessed history as Governor Palin spoke and listening to Senator McCain accept his party's nomination. On the third day of the Convention, we were sitting behind the Palin family and Aaron was holding up a sign the whole time that said "McCain Veterans Support You." Apparently, Meghan McCain, John's McCain's daughter, took a picture of Aaron and posted it on her blog.
When I saw the picture on the blog, I decided to e-mail Meghan and tell her that the guy in the picture holding that sign is my husband, and he has been a very loyal John McCain supporter since long before he entered the campaign, and he is a wounded Iraq veteran, and he is a law student at Ole Miss, and he would LOVE the opportunity to go to the debate. Tickets to the first debate are impossible to come by...literally, impossible. The University only gave out about 10 tickets to the entire campus, including students, faculty, staff, etc. All the other tickets go to the Election Commission, the Rep and Dem parties, campaign staff, and media. Basically, in the e-mail, I asked Meghan that if there was anything she could do to help me find a ticket, it would be a dream come true for my husband and we would be eternally grateful.
I wanted to surprise him with a ticket for his birthday, but I didn't hear anything back for about 2 weeks, so I pretty much lost hope. On Saturday afternoon, while Aaron was playing with his bow and arrows in the backyard, I got a phone call. It was the McCain campaign telling me that they take their commitment to veterans very seriously and would love to offer Aaron a ticket to the debate!! I kind of freaked out on the phone while he was giving me instructions on how to get it. It was the coolest thing ever getting to tell Aaron about his ticket. This is how I told him:
Aaron had just come in from playing with his new toy, and he must have been on some kind of high, because he just randomly went off on this rant about how great his life is. He was talking about how he had this great house, an awesome wife, an awesome dog, a "badass" bow....and then I cut him off and said "a ticket to the debate..." He said "No, mate, I don't have a ticket." He said it kind of jokingly because we talked about it all the time, about how bad we want to go. And I said, "No, really mate, you have a ticket! I got one for you!" So I explained everything, and he freaked out - in every sense of the word, he freaked out - just like I did. It was so funny watching him jump up and down - Jake just watched him like he was an idiot.
Anyway, Aaron is going to the debate, and its all because his wifey e-mailed John McCain's daughter. He always comments on how I'm never afraid to ask, and how that is not always a good thing. This time it was a good thing. I'm so happy for him because Aaron has followed John McCain for a very long time. Even when he hit his lowest point on the campaign, Aaron knew he would be our next president.
So that was Aaron's birthday. I've known the boy since he was 15. That's 10 years of Aaron Rice in my life, and I'm looking forward to celebrating another 100 with him. I love you mate!