How I planned and prepared for my husband to go away for camp, but God had plans of his own.
As NFL camp commences, I cannot help but think about all the NFL wives, girlfriends and families, and what they are going through to prepare for their loved ones to leave. It makes me reminisce about Marcus’ last season of camp.
As the final days before camp approach, this year is different. This year is not like the years before, where I watched him pack a few things to take with him to the hotel, that was a few minutes away from our house. How I felt sad that I would only see him once a day. This time, I was not looking at the camp-calendar to find his days off and planning our family outings; I was not planning my schedule around his lunch, so I could make sure I am home in order for us all to have a quick family meal.
My husband was no longer playing in his hometown, where he’d played for the past ten years. He wasn’t attending camp down the street from our home. Marcus was preparing to play thousands of miles away, (2,949 miles, to be exact). He was no longer a Seattle Seahawk. Marcus had been released by the Hawks and picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Instead of our normal “getting ready for camp” routine, we were shipping down boxes for his new apartment. I spent hours trying to come up with a schedule of possible times I could fly down to see him and figuring out how I was going to get by without my husband, my best friend.
I have to admit, I am spoiled. Marcus had played in his hometown for so long and being two seconds away from his entire family was nothing short of a blessing. He was born and raised in Washington, went to Washington State University, got drafted to the Seattle Seahawks, and married an awesome gal from Washington… it’s really a football fairytale story. When Marcus was picked up by the Jags, the fairytale turned into a scary movie. I had three little ones, and a fourth one due at the beginning of the season. I wanted Marcus to turn down the Jags offer so bad, because I was scared of the unknown. But, I know that would be selfish of me and Marcus “has to do what he has to do.”
What was I going to do? I had no help, and like I said, I am spoiled and have never had to move to a different team, like so many other women and families have to do. Some women don’t just go to one different team, they move from team to team, sometimes a new team every season. When I say I take my hat off to these women, I mean it. They leave their lives, their comfort zones, pack up everything, (including their kids) and start from scratch in a new state. I mean, can you imagine being in their position and how strong they must to be? They acclimate to their new living arrangements, find schooling, activities, doctors, sitters, etc. for their kids. These women have to find their way around a new city, try to make friends and try to have a normal life, all while supporting their husband, who is away playing most of the time. The most inspiring part, is they do it all with class, grace and a smile.
As for me, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to leave my safety net, I didn’t want to have my baby, via c-section, in another state. I can’t imagine taking my kids out of the school they love so much. After I had my baby, I needed the support of my family to help me with my four young kids. I had been in the football game for a while and I knew the routine. Marcus would be busy and gone every weekend and I didn’t want to do it alone. After praying, talking it over with Marcus and being a hot mess about the entire situation, I made one of the toughest decisions ever.
I decided to stay in Seattle. I would have the baby and fly back and forth to visit my husband, (in hindsight, I don’t know how I thought I was going to pull that off). Many didn’t agree with my decision, but after Marcus and I talked about it, weighed out the pros and cons, we thought my decision to stay was best.
The day had come for him to leave for camp. The mood was solemn. Our children were young, but I still think they could sense the heavy sadness and gloomy energy around them. As Marcus gathered his final things, I tried to conduct business as usual with my kids, but deep down inside, my heart was breaking. As we drove to the airport, I felt like I was losing him forever.
We pulled into the Departures lane at SeaTac Airport, and I could no longer keep it together. I started crying my eyes out. I was almost nine months pregnant and I wasn’t sure when I was going to see my husband again. As he walked around to get his luggage, the kids started screaming and crying, they begged him not to go. Their little arms reached out for him while they screamed bloody-murder.
I turned and looked at Marcus and saw tears pouring out of his eyes; he was crying hard. I had never seen him cry like that. My super, tough husband who always keeps his cool and emotions in check, was balling like a baby. It became real for him. It finally hit him that he was leaving and wouldn’t be there to hug us every day. He had never been away from us for longer than a few days. I can hardly breathe, I am inconsolable. He hugged each one of the kids and we all cried together. I didn’t want to let go, but I had to. And that was it… he walked into the airport and was gone.
I could barely drive, I cried uncontrollably, for about thirty minutes or so, and then I got a text message from, “Hubby.”
“I love you. And ps, I wasn’t crying, I just had something in my eye.”
This made me smile.
The next few weeks were BRUTAL. It was summer, it was hot, the kids were working my last nerve and I couldn’t see my best friend, I could only talk to him. When we did talk, we talked for hours… we talk all night sometimes. You know when you first start a new relationship and you talk all night, getting to know one another? You giggle and smile the entire conversation and you never want to say goodbye. Well, that was us.
At times I could hear the loneliness in his voice and I heard the tiredness, too. Marcus was not the same player from many seasons ago. He was considered the “old man” on his team, being in his thirties and having multiple injuries were weighing heavily on him. Training camp was kickin’ his butt and it was harder for him to recover. Marcus was trying his absolute hardest, but was feeling his ten years of playing, for sure.
The last two days of camp, I decided to do something drastic. I took my nine-month-pregnant self, gathered my kids, rounded up my mom, got on a plane and made the six-hour journey to Florida. I would not go another day without being with my man. The best part is that it was a surprise! He had NO CLUE we were coming.
We arrived at the Jacksonville Jaguar practice field and we hid until practice was over. As Marcus walked off the field, we were all waiting for him. Seeing my husband for the first time in weeks was a feeling I’ll never forget. I had butterflies, I was nervous, happy, anxious… I was going through every emotion possible. When he saw us, he couldn’t believe his eyes and was over the moon! Our kids screamed and jumped into his arms. It was like a movie; this entire scene should have been played in slow-motion. I can hold on to this moment forever.
We spent the next three weeks in Florida, like one big happy family. I was only supposed to stay for a week, but I couldn’t leave. After a week, my mom left back to Seattle to return to work and we stayed behind. I figured that after the pre-season, Marcus had a few days off and he could fly back with us to Seattle, then return to Florida to start the season. The perfect plan!
The last pre-season game came and went, and it was time for Marcus to fly us back to Seattle and return to Florida until I have our baby. Spending three weeks with him was like a dream. I actually proved to myself that I could have moved our family to Florida and been just fine. I quickly found the local stores, places for the kids to play and of course, the mall! Then I contemplated never returning to Seattle, but I knew at this point it would complicate things more. As we boarded the plane, I was sick to my stomach, because I knew our time together was once again, starting to come to an end.
As the plane taxied into the SeaTac Airport, Marcus checked his phone and saw he had a missed call. He immediately knew what the phone call was about.
He had been released from the Jaguars.
We both had a good laugh because essentially, he got “fired on his day off.”
Deep down, we both knew Marcus had been ready to hang up his cleats, but he wasn’t going to stop until they kicked him out. When he got that phone call, I sensed disappointment, but also a relief.
As we walked off the plane, we left the football chapter of his life, our life, behind. Just like that, it was over. Ten years in the league had come to an end. Marcus closed the door and never looked back.
Marcus was there for the birth of his fourth daughter and has been by our sides ever since.
Look how God works! God’s timing is everything!
I was starting to beat myself up for not dropping everything and moving to Jacksonville, but as you can see, everything happens for a reason. It was all a part of God’s divine plan for our lives.
The next season, Marcus signed a one-day contract with the Seattle Seahawks and was able to retire with his home team. Football fairytale story, complete.
Good luck to all of those in camp this season and to their families!