How my mother, my brother, a congressman, and a helicopter saved my wedding

I decided to share my wedding story with you all. Why? Because it’s the best wedding story EVER. I’m biased, of course. Some of you already know this story, so you can tune me out and move to the next post.

My husband was due to deploy in September of 2011. Up to that point, his ship was taking many mini-cruises in preparation. Some of these were weeks long. He checked with his command and was told that the end of August was the best time for him to schedule our wedding. So we did. August 27.

Well, all the military wives know this one: when it comes to the military, you need to expect the unexpected and be flexible. Added to this…as high-tech and modern as we’ve become in the U.S., we still can’t control the weather.

Our wedding was scheduled for Saturday, and my husband’s ship was supposed to come back into port on Thursday. It’s cutting it close, I know, but there was really no other option. Those of you on the Eastern side of the country may remember a little thing called Hurricane Irene. It was probably Tuesday of that week, when Jay told me that the storm might be affecting his ship. On Wednesday he confirmed that, telling me that all the ships in Norfolk might be ordered out to sea the next day. Which meant that his ship definitely wouldn’t be coming into port, even though it was close to shore. At this point, I was in Buffalo where our wedding was being held. The location was booked. The food was ordered. The flowers were ordered. etc. etc. If you’ve never planned a wedding, you may not know this: there’s no refund for all of that. You can’t just cancel your wedding and “try again.” I prayed all day Wednesday. There have been a few other times in my life where things seemed dire, and I prayed, even when there seemed to be no hope, and God answered my prayers in the way I’d asked. So I had faith. When I went to bed Wednesday night, I was calm. I was certain that between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, that God was going to move that hurricane’s path out to sea.

When I woke up Thursday morning, the first thing I did was check the weather report. There was no change. Hurricane Irene was still heading directly for Norfolk. I thought, “Okay, Lord, what are you doing?” I really couldn’t believe it. I really thought God was going to change the weather. Soon after that, I got a call from Jay’s ship.

“I have some bad news, I’m not going to be able to make it,” Jay said. His ship was being ordered further out to sea. What made this news especially bitter is that a helicopter had picked up several officers and took them to shore just a few hours earlier. The military can deny special treatment until they’re blue in the face, but all service members know that officers get special treatment.

At this point, we had friends and relatives already in the air on their way. My parents and I had driven from Florida to Buffalo. Everything was paid for and planned. Although I was devastated, I determined that I was going to hold my head up and be strong. We decided to hold a family reunion instead. I started calling friends and relatives and letting them know what had happened, and many said they were going to come anyway. I or my mom called the florist, I forget which, but I do remember talking to her myself at some point. The florist offered to make the bouquets into table centerpieces for the reunion, so that was neat.

While all this was happening, my older brother was not settling for the reunion. I have to say this about him. We fight. We fight every time we’re together. He’s soooooooo irritating. 🙂 But I can pinpoint many times throughout my life where he stood up for me. It’s what family does, right? He suggested to my mom that she call her congressman, Bill Young, back in Florida. His Web site indicated he was pro military. So the phone calls started. I also called my congressman. I’m not sure all of who was called, but I come from a family of attorneys, and they know judges, politicians, lobbyists…all those types. I spoke to someone from Fleet and Family Service or some other Navy types: and they were completely useless, of course. You’re not supposed to skip the chain of command in the military, but if you really want to make waves, you have to.

Bill Young’s office called back and said they had contacted the Navy, and that the Navy had said my husband’s ship was too far out to sea for a helicopter. I told them this was false, since I’d just been in email contact with Jay. He told me they were still within range of the shore. The numbers he gave me was a far, far shorter distance than what the Navy had told the congressman’s office.

Long story, short… a helicopter was eventually sent to my husband’s ship. They picked up my husband, another sailor who was also getting married that weekend, and several civilian workers who were supposed to have been off the ship at that point. I didn’t believe it was really going to happen, until Jay sent me a phone picture of him in the helo.

I heard later that Jay’s ship was contacted by several admirals, telling his CO to get him off that ship.

When Jay got back to Norfolk, there were no flights leaving for Buffalo, because of the weather, so he drove his car through the night all the way up North. He arrived Friday morning. I think he was a zombie through most of our wedding, hahah!

After this happened, somehow, the local news in Buffalo, and the newspaper back in Florida, got wind of it. I think my brother contacted one source, Bill Young’s office another, and I think there was a third person who told a news organization, but I’m not sure who. We were interviewed on TV and by newspaper.

The moral of this story is that God does answer prayer…just not always in the way we expect.

You can watch clips here (Meghan is my middle name, and Jay is short for Jeremiah):

Hurricane Irene Won’t Stop Sailor’s Wedding

Irene Can’t Keep Groom from Wedding

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