In an age when sharing with friends and family is second nature, it’s easy to forget just how much of our life ends up online. There is some great beauty in social media, like how it can tell our stories and catalog our memories.
Kimmy Kirkwood has one such story, and she shared it shared with US Marine sergeant Will Stacey.
The pair originally met at a Seattle high school, and knew the same group of friends. Kimmy had a crush, yes, but it wasn’t reciprocated. They went their separate ways: Kimmy to Chapman University, and Will to the Marine Corps.
He was stationed for training just twenty miles south of her.
When both returned to Seattle for the summer, they reconnected at a party. They were surrounded by people, but stayed up alone together until 5am just talking. It was a reconnection that started a deep relationship.
Summer came to a close, and Will was deployed to Afghanistan, as Kimmy began her first semester of studying abroad.
There was a four-month wait until Will had holiday leave back to the states.
Will wrote and kept this promise to return to the states for Kimmy.
I hope and pray that this afternoon was not the last time I will ever see you again. Will never make promises that I cannot keep, and I cannot promise my absolute safety. But I can promise this. You are what drives me […] 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. I love you too.
Kimmy and Will wrote each other love letters – forever preserved over Facebook.
By December of 2008, Will and Kimmy were both home, and got to spend the time together that they never could. They were blissfully happy.
Will was deployed time and again, and every time he returned, they would stay as close as possible.
He was always as happy to see her as she was to see him.
Hating to leave Kimmy alone, Will did get her this adorable puppy named Otis.
Through all his absences, Will Stacey knew that Kimmy Kirkwood was the one who made him truly happy.
In the summer of 2011, Will decided to reenlist. Says Kimmy:
It was something he had talked a lot about so it didn’t come as a big surprise, but it was really hard on us. I really wanted to move on with our lives, and not deal with more deployments. 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.
He was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant before re-enlisting, which was a testament to the quality of Marine he had become, and also volunteered to be part of an Embedded Training Team with a unit in the National Afghan Army.
With less than six weeks left on his deployment, Will Stacey’s patrol fell prey to an improvised explosive device. The blast took Will’s life. The woman he was ready to marry upon his return from deployment had her “world fall apart on January 31, 2012. I was walking Otis before work, when Will’s dad called.”
Before boarding a plane to return home to greet Will one final time – in a casket, for a funeral – she left a message on his wall. Her life was filled with tears, memories, loneliness and messages from people. But they weren’t from Will.
Then she realized something. If she ever missed Will or needed to be reminded of all of the wonderful times they had together, she could just go online. “Our entire relationship was documented, like a digital scrapbook with letters, conversations, photos, and videos.”