Eight years ago today, Danny and I said “I do” under a hot desert sun and embarked upon a journey that had already been set off course by the events of 9/11 just two months earlier. Danny was immediately furloughed from his job as a pilot and called to active duty with his Air Force C-130 unit in Colorado Springs. He reported for duty as soon as we returned from our honeymoon in Lake Tahoe. He was to serve six months on base and six months abroad. As newlyweds, knowing we had to be apart for six months was torture, but we didn’t have to be apart the other six. And just like that, we were selling our home in Arizona to set sail for Colorado. The plan was simple: start over.
By the time Danny’s year of duty was up, he had been called back to his job flying out of St. Louis for a commuter airline. What a relief! However, I was finding it wasn’t so simple to start your career up again in a new place where you knew no one, there was a recession on, and there were 200 applicants for every one job. Maybe we should’ve investigated this a bit more before we jumped ship back in the desert? There was only one thing to do. Move to St. Louis. And start over.
Life was finally moving along. Danny no longer had to commute from Denver to St. Louis for work as he had been, and I found a good job in the city. We were ready to settle in and start our family. Apparently, Al-Qaeda was to have a say in this too though, because no sooner than we started skipping down the yellow brick road did Danny get called up again. Six months in Colorado Springs; six months in Qatar. One year away from me. We made it work. I found a new job as a contractor where I could set my own hours. I flew out to Colorado two weekends a month and just before Danny was to do a 3-month stint flying in and out of war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, we got pregnant. And though he missed my first trimester, and we lived in two different states for the second, he was home for the third and most important part, the birth of our daughter in February 2007. What a great time to… START OVER!
Reagan was just six months old when we moved back to Colorado. Danny had achieved his ultimate goal: to fly for Frontier Airlines. It was exactly one month between his hiring and our move, during which time Danny was in training in Denver while I sold the house, packed it and boarded a plane with our newborn. It was the most stressful time I had ever been through and I thought I was near having a nervous breakdown. Now I know that was only God preparing me for what was the real stress to come. On Reagan’s first birthday, Danny was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The reset button had just been pressed again.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Danny is now cancer-free and waiting to be cleared by the FAA to return to work at Frontier. The Air Force is deciding whether to let him re-train in a new position (read desk job) or declare him medically-retired as the chemotherapy damaged his heart to where he is now considered “undeployable,” and can no longer fly for them. After thinking I had retired from my career in graphic design to be a full-time mom, I was suddenly looking for work again as soon as Danny had recovered from his treatment and could care for Reagan.
While this may not be the life we planned on, we’ve learned to be thankful for our blessings amidst the storms. And, there have been many. The two biggest being the birth of our daughter and of course, Danny conquering cancer. We figure with as much as we’ve weathered together in this first eight years, it should be all smooth sailing from here.