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Earn Your Story: The Hardest Things

Courage doesn’t come from trials and tribulations; courage comes after you’ve survived. Emily is a woman who exhibits this mantra, because she has lived it as a deployed Marine in Afghanistan, and now as a mother of two beautiful young daughters.

                At the Naval Academy, all the men wanted to date her, and all the women wanted to be her. Not because she was an exuberant with her talent and strength, but because of her humility in those gifts. She studied, went to Catholic mass, ran beside sea-foam green coast of Annapolis water, and worked on herself as a role model.

                “I wanted to know myself, and sometimes that connection was hard, and sometimes it wasn’t, but I never stopped looking,” Emily reflected.

                At the end of her senior year, she married her college sweetheart midshipmen. Shortly after he went to sub school, and Emily went into Marine Corps Officer Training. The physical and emotional demand of the Marines made her sober to the realities of combat training.

                “It’s not a joke.”

                Afghanistan deployment was tough. The distance challenged her connection back in America. Surviving with what only could be carried on her back made the inner balance of her identity, as a woman, wife, soldier, seem impossible. However, as all great warriors do, she rose.

                She asked herself, what do I want out of life? The answer, she wanted to be a role model for her then unborn daughters.

                “I realized whatever came after that, I would love with the same strength.”

                Emily was honorably discharged for a severe hip injury. And after she recovered from surgery, she did things to know the civilian side of herself.

                “I worked at Whole Foods as their restaurant manager. Learned what my style of clothing even was beyond a uniform. Hosted Thanksgiving with an un-thawed Turkey, and just lived in what I wanted to know, instead of what I already knew.”

                Their first daughter has Barbie-blue eyes and a firecracker soul. The second is still too young to crawl, and loves her mother terribly. Emily forgoes sleep to tend to her daughters, and then works an eight-hour telework shift in the morning. Emily has earned her story in more ways than one.   

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