CLOVER -- In November of 2006, Lance Cpl. Jason Deal told his family of a life-changing decision with only a month's notice. He was joining the Marine Corps and would be deployed to Iraq.
Before he left on Christmas night, Jason moved his things from a townhouse into his old bedroom at his parent's home in Clover. While Jason's mother, Donna, straightened the room she found a notebook. In that notebook was a list detailing the characteristics of Jason's ideal woman. Donna said the list was an exact description of his fiancé, Julia Eades.
"Everything there was Julia," Donna said. "He wrote the list before he met her, so I think God listened and brought him the perfect girl for him."
That "perfect girl" will become his wife this weekend when Jason returns to Clover to be married. The 26-year-old received three-weeks leave from the Marines to marry the woman that Donna feels was handpicked for him.
Never miss a local story.
Jason met Julia last year during a church group meeting at Canaan United Methodist Church in Smyrna, where they'll be married. He asked her to be his bride in January when he was on leave. Jason is currently stationed at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii with the Second Battalion Third Marine Division.
He left on Jan. 28 and they haven't seen each other since.
But they've been on each others' hearts and minds.
"It's going to be amazing to see him," Julia said. "I'm probably going to be crying my eyes out because I'll be so happy."
Julia said they'll use Jason's three-week stint to work on their relationship.
"We're just going to focus on us," Julia said. "The wedding is fine, but the main thing is that I'm going to spend my life with him."
In Jason's absence, his mom and future wife formed a bond, forging a close friendship based on the commonality of wondering and worrisome nights.
"Julia has been such a blessing for our family," Donna said. "Planning this wedding with her has helped me during the times when I didn't hear from him for a while, and didn't know if he was safe."
Julia said planning the wedding with Donna was also a positive outlet for her.
"It's helped me through everything," she said. "It's kept me busy and given me positive things to talk about, instead of talking about what he told me was going on in Iraq."
In addition to serving the country, Jason, a Clover High graduate, is a deacon at his church and has gone on two church missions. He's also a body builder and a past Mr. Clover.
His mother has decorated her home with awards from his stint in the Marines. Donna said "a mother and father couldn't be more proud" than she and her husband, Timmie, are of Jason.
A testament to his stay in the Marines will come on Saturday when Jason's five Marine Corps brothers, also on three-weeks leave, attend his wedding. Donna said their attendance is touching.
"For them to give up time with their family for my son," she said, "it just shows how much they care about him and I feel like they're my own sons -- I'm just so proud of all of them."
Momma Deal can't wait to see Jason walk down the isle.
"It's going to be beautiful to see my son in his uniform," Donna said in a quivering voice.
Jason is looking forward to his wedding day as well.
"I want to make it official before God and our families," Jason said. "It's ultimately about us coming together as one."
The couple will honeymoon in Charleston, where they plan to see Fort Sumter, go horseback riding and visit the historic market.
The three weeks will go by fast before he returns to duty, but the two will be reunited in December when Julia temporarily moves to Hawaii. However, another deployment will separate them shortly after, and Julia will return to Rock Hill to receive her college degree from Winthrop University.