Shane and his family moved into a house three streets away from mine in third grade and we attended the same schools through graduation from high school. We had mutual friends and our paths crossed during this time on a few occasions. However, we never spent enough time for feelings to develop until 2011. Three years after high school graduation, Shane and I returned home to Missouri after spending separate, but simultaneous time in California. Shane was returning home from graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego and I was back from a year of study in Santa Barbara. On January 1st, 2011, on his way home from a day of Marine Corps Recruiting Duty, Shane drove past Kiely unloading her trunk in front of her childhood house. Uncharacteristically, Shane turned his car around on the next street (shout out to the Scaturo Family!) and pulled into Kiely’s Cul de sac. Exiting his car in his Dress Blues, I still know all I could say was how tall he looked. I think we hugged and hit it off about both returning from California recently. I offered a lunch date at Panera the next day, but Shane was leaving for Combat training in California and had to decline.
For the next month, Shane and I texted on weekends when he was allowed to have a cell phone. Shane was then sent immediately to Virginia Beach for his next training. Surprisingly, the beginning of this school was so delayed, Shane was allowed to return to our hometown for a second month of Marine Corps Recruiting Duty. This month is extremely uncommon for a new Marine but the time Kiely and I were able to spend together was invaluable. This was clearly where we became good friends.
We continued to communicate daily including late night Skype sessions during the week (shout out to Monica and Esha!) during the three months Shane was in Virginia Beach for training and upon graduation he used 18 days of his vacation to return home and spend it with me. On day 16, while out with my brother Blake and friend Brittney, Shane was violently assaulted and spent 9 days in a medically assisted minimally conscious state after suffering brain injuries. The first time I told Kiely I loved her was when I awoke (consciously) and looked to my right and saw her sitting there. Without hesitation her response was, “I love you too” and we hugged. Kiely and her entire family stood by me and mine during this extremely challenging time. More than I can ever know or understand, these families saved my (Shane) life.
After recovering for two months, Kiely and I packed my things up and road tripped Route 66 to San Diego. Despite enduring my grueling recovery, the two months the Marine Corps gave me (us) for that process, proved pivotal in the growth and maturation of our love. Shane checked into his first command in California November 22nd, 2011 and arrived in Afghanistan December 25th, 2011. Shane and I spent another year talking via email, text and Skype daily. We faced opposite calendar days, time zones, school deadlines and long shifts but we never questioned it. While in Afghanistan, Shane was forced to call me (rare) with tears masked in his voice that upon returning to the U.S. he would be packing his things for a move to Okinawa, Japan. This news was devastating to our intentions upon my return to the U.S. During these two years in Okinawa Shane flew me out to visit twice and he returned home to visit once. We zip lined, went to Cardinals games, and made me a princess by taking me to a Marine Corps Ball. (Few of you know what happened on my first visit to Okinawa.)
While in Okinawa, Kiely completed her undergraduate degree and I knew I was ready to move on from the Marine Corps to be with her and pursue new interests. I separated from the Marine Corps in 2015 and Kiely boldly accepted my requests to move to Columbia, Missouri with me so I could complete my undergraduate degree. These three years in Columbia were the first time we had lived together and the saying is true. We worked through the gambit of obstacles and challenges like any new relationship does. Together, we found God in our love, adopted our beloved Nora dog, made our first home and road a minibike to SEC football games. Kiely established herself in banking and became a credible corporate marketeer. Shane graduated with Honors from the University of Missouri on May 12, 2018 and on a dock in our backyard in the first home we built with both families present, proposed to me. I said yes and one week later on our seven year anniversary we took a big leap and moved to Colorado with no jobs.
Shane was in the process of applying to medical school around the nation and we had about one year to do many of the things his future profession would limit for a while. During this year we have hiked, camped, skied, and travelled. Much of this occurred in a town very special to us called Buena Vista, Colorado. We also feel incredibly blessed to both work for the same group of eye surgeons where Kiely has established herself as a valuable member of the team performing many roles. Her history in marketing may even present new opportunities with the practice in “20/20!” Shane’s time in Colorado is dwindling and shortly after our wedding, he will move to Nevada and become inundated with new information to learn for medical school. We anticipate this challenge and feel incredibly blessed by God to have been prepared for this with our past. June 18th, 2019, on our eight year anniversary together, we will wed in front of our families. We chose to have our wedding in Buena Vista where we have spent this special year making memories to reflect on for a lifetime.