"I don't actually remember meeting Will for the first time. He came to my high school in Seattle sophomore year, but I didn't develop a crush on him until the next summer..."
That's how Kimmy Kirkwood begins her and Will Stacey's story of "love and loss told through Facebook." Kimmy shared her story on FacebookStories.com (a site celebrating Facebook's 10 year anniversary) and it is as touching as it is devastating.
Kimmy talks about when they first met (he was a "bad boy," she was a "silly goody two-shoes"), how they lost touch after graduation (she went off to college, he joined the Marines) and how they reconnected, their first kiss, his first deployment and when they became, as they say, Facebook official.
"Will returned from his deployment in July 2008, and we met at a party in Seattle," she writes. "We were surrounded by people, but somehow spent the entire night together, and fell asleep talking around 5 a.m.
"From the moment we woke up a couple hours later, we were inseparable."
Kimmy details their next few years together: Of how they managed when she was studying abroad and he was deployed to Afghanistan. Of the dates they would go on when reunited, of the many firsts they celebrated together, of working through their problems and meeting each other's families.
In one Facebook message, Will wrote:
I cannot promise my absolute safety. But I can promise this. You are what drives me. I've already taped your picture to my rifle. You are what I wake up to in the morning, and what drives me through the day. Kimmy, you have finally given me something to fight to come home to. And until the day that I can step foot back on American soil, and come back to you, I will keep in my head every memory that I have of you and will hold close the memories that are to come.
In 2010, Will re-enlisted. "I really wanted to move on with our lives, and not deal with more deployments," Kimmy writes. "But one of the things that I loved most about Will was his passion for his career. He felt his job wasn't done, and was not ready to leave the military."
Will was promoted to Sergeant and was eventually shipped off to Now Zad, Afghanistan. The two had talked about getting engaged before he left, but they decided to wait and do it when he got back from his fourth deployment.
My world fell apart on Jan. 31, 2012. I was walking Otis [the dog Will bought her] before work, when Will's dad called. He had been hit by an IED on patrol and was killed. After getting off the phone with him, I blacked out for a few minutes before calling my family.
"I realized how amazing it was to have this reminder of who we were together," she explains on telling her story via Facebook. "Our entire relationship was documented, like a digital scrapbook with letters, conversations, photos, and videos...Sometimes when I'm lonely, I go back and read everything he sent to me."
If that doesn't speak to the wonders of the digital age, a woman, Brittany Elizabeth Cooney, commented on the story from her Facebook, to say, "My husband was with yours for his final deployment. He still speaks so highly of him. I think he may have teared up more than I did reading this. He was such a great Marine and great friend."