My Friend, Sarabeth, & Her Solider’s Homecoming

If I were to put together a TIME Magazine’s ‘Most Inspirational People’ list, my friend Sarabeth would win the #1 spot hands down.

Sarabeth and I have been friends since junior year of high school, when we met in AP US History class after she recently moved to Colorado from Georgia. She met her solider when we were freshmen in college and married him shortly after. When I first met Sarabeth’s husband, I automatically knew he was the perfect fit for her. She likes to talk, he likes to listen. They lived with her family for some time while they both worked some ridiculous amount of jobs, he joined the military, and they moved to Monterey Bay, where they had their son, Karsen, and last year, when Karsen was just eight months old, her Solider deployed.

Watching Sarabeth through her Solider’s deployment has inspired me in so many ways. While I cannot imagine the agony one goes through during a deployment, Sarabeth never once let herself get down. She kept herself busy, continued coaching gymnastics, built an incredible support group around her, and devoted her life to being the best mom ever. I am not exaggerating when I say I never ONCE saw Sarabeth falter. She never once complained, she never once got depressed, she never once asked people to give her a pity party. She accepted, picked herself up, and continued living. It is completely a mental challenge and Sarabeth challenged herself to not only survive, but survive with positivity and grace. She is perhaps one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life and is a true testament of just robust and unbreakable how the human spirit is. We often do not give ourselves enough credit for how limitless we can be.

It is women like Sarabeth that I drive my own strength from. My trials and tribulations are nothing compared to hers, and if she can do it, I can too.

Might I add that Sarabeth is one of the greatest moms I have ever had the pleasure of observing? If there is one person who was born with the mom gene, it is Sarabeth. I believe that children are direct reflections of their parents and the environment in which they are raised. I recently went to the pool with Sarabeth and Karsen. At one point, Karsen got hit in the head with a ball. Most parent’s reactions are to go running over to their child, smother him/her with kisses, and ‘goo-goo-gaga’ until the child stops crying. Sarabeth, on the other hand, just looked at Karsen and told him he would be ok and he stopped crying.

And, might I also add that Sarabeth lost 120 plus pounds during her pregnancy and beyond by just simply changing her diet and working out? I use the term ‘simply’ lightly, because losing 150 plus pounds is not exactly a simple thing to do. She did not do anything crazy; she did not start taking some crazy weight loss hormone or stop eating all together. Sarabeth committed herself to the gym. And, she did not just show up to the gym, but she committed herself to intense amounts of running and lifting weights every single time to drop that weight. And, she continues to commit herself to this healthy eating, exercise oriented lifestyle. Um, hello, she just ran a half marathon at high altitude? If you want to talk about an inspirational weight loss story, Sarabeth is your girl. She is living proof that change can happen; it is certainly not easy and certainly does not occur over night. It takes perseverance, dedication, and commitment, but it is certainly and absolutely possible. Sarabeth did it; you can too.

The happy ending to this story is that last week, at the ‘Let Freedom Sing’ Fourth of July celebration, Sarabeth’s solider surprised her by his unannounced homecoming (See the video HERE). In front of the entire town, Sarabeth was pulled up on stage, congratulated on her weight loss, all the while her Solider came behind and presented her with flowers. I cannot even imagine the surprise, the elation, and the relief that Sarabeth felt at that moment. Her Solider gave her an unforgettable moment that she will continue to revisit for the rest of her life. Suddenly, those restless nights, those anxiety ridden days waiting for a Skype call, those lonely company Christmas parties don’t even surmount to the fact that he is home.

It is relationships like this that last. Deployment was certainly not easy on either of them, but as I observed them ‘honeymooning’ this last week–meeting up with friends, going on family dates, doing things married couples do–I can only think about how special and cherished those moment are. It is a testament to their strength, both individually and as a married couple. I can only hope to someday experience the undying love and ultimate respect they have for each other in a marriage.

Today, I am thinking about all the sacrifices Sarabeth and her Solider, and all of those in their same situation, for our country. This is an appropriate situation to say ‘Congratulations, Sarabeth and her Solider. You made it.’

Thank you for being such an inspiration to me.

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