Diary Of An Army Wife

Eight Months And A Day

November 01, 2003|By Larry Bingham

We've seen the photographs of soldiers on furlough reuniting with loved ones. But behind each of those scenes are many other moments lived out in private, in the soldier's absence. Jacob Ruble, a specialist with the 3rd Battalion of the 327th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., came home yesterday from Iraq. His wife, Julia Ruble, who is 19 and develops film at a Wal-Mart photo lab, was at BWI to meet him. Reporter Larry Bingham asked Julia to describe the months and milestones her husband has missed.

MARCH 1, 2003

JAKE'S DEPARTURE

"There was a nine-week period where I didn't hear from him at all. From the time he left, I heard from him one time in Germany, and then nothing for nine weeks. And it really worried me until I got my first call. I was sending him seven boxes of stuff, and I just dropped my stuff and ran outside [the post office]. 'It's Jake!' I left my mom with seven packages. I didn't mean to leave her there, but it was the first time, you know? I dropped everything and ran outside."

APRIL 26, 2003

SENIOR PROM

"Jake had called my best friend, John, and asked him to take me to the prom. I was feeling kind of indecisive because I'm married, and I don't need to go with another guy. But Jake called and said, 'No, you go. Just because I'm over here doesn't mean your life has to stop.' I danced with one of my girlfriends just for one song. I was like, 'John, this is boring,' so he took me home. John is my best friend, but it wasn't the same as having Jake there with me."

MAY 14, 2003

OUR FIRST PLACE

"I was driving by, and I saw a For Rent sign, and I noticed they had a washer-and-dryer, stove, microwave and dishwasher included, so I called, and the lady said they were $500 a month, and then I went there and they were real nice. There's a bay window in the kitchen, and I have a round kitchen table from my Grandma's house, and it fits perfect there. So that's a plus.

"This is something I did on my own. I asked him if it was OK, and he was, like, 'That's great.' It was kind of scary at first. I made my sister stay with me the first few nights because I didn't want to be by myself. I didn't know my neighbors or anything. I like it a lot now."

MAY 24, 2003

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

"I wore the button that says 'My Husband, My Hero' on my shirt. We weren't allowed to have anything on the outside, so I wore it under my robe. I felt like it made him kind of be there in a way.

"I was crying because Jake couldn't be there but I was happy that I actually finished, and nobody thought I would because I got married so early. There were some people who were doubting because usually when you hear about kids falling in love, they drop out of school and stuff like that, and with Jake gone, I was sad all the time and I didn't want to do anything. A lot of people were like, 'You're not going to finish.' But I did."

AUG. 11, 2003

MY BIRTHDAY

"His birthday is Aug. 6, and mine is Aug. 11. We're two years and five days apart. I worked on his birthday, but he called me, and I told him 'Happy Birthday,' and I sent him a card and some money. It's 40 cents a minute or something like that, so I sent him $50. And I have a video of him getting a pink belly from his friends. The guys got him good. I was thinking, 'Wow, my husband is 21 years old; he's legal, and he can't even enjoy it.'

"My birthday, he called. I only talked to him for maybe 10 minutes. He told me he loved me and that was pretty much it. He had to go. I was fine because my birthday isn't really anything. I miss Jake every day."

AUG. 24, 2003

FIRST ANNIVERSARY

"I got off work at 4 and about 6 o'clock, somebody called from work and said, 'Are you Julia Ruble? We have some flowers up here for you.' I went back, and they were from Jake. He called me, and so we were talking when I walked in and saw them.

"He's like, 'Happy Anniversary, Baby. I promise I'll make it up to you when we come home.' He felt really bad because he's missed most of our marriage. I cried a lot just because he wasn't there. I watched my wedding video, and it made me remember all the good times me and Jake have had -- and will have. I started thinking two is my favorite number, so maybe we'll have a better one next year."

OCT. 31, 2003

HOMECOMING

"I was there at like 9 o'clock, and I sat there, and I waited and I waited, and every time the door opened, we jumped. Finally, some of the soldiers started coming out, and then Jake came out. I felt this overwhelming feeling. I started crying. I was trying not to, but I just couldn't help it. He's home. He's here. He made it back alive. He's still my husband.''

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