Thinking back to the summer of 2009, I feel strong. Did I feel strong then? No way. I was nervous, scared, unsure, and a million other things. But strong I was not. I thought my little world was over because my boyfriend of only four months was leaving for Basic Training at the USAFA Prep School. How on EARTH was I going to handle not seeing him for months at a time? And if I couldn't see him, we could at least talk, right? Wrong. He was not allowed to have a cell phone during basic training (duh -- but I was new to this military stuff, remember...). And when he finished and classes started, he was only authorized his phone on weekends... which left extremely long weeks of not hearing his voice. (Thank goodness for Google chat!)
July 14th, 2009 was just a normal summer day for most. It was Bastille Day in France. And it was the day I discovered some of my own inner strength and how to rely on friends. Dan's flight left from Midcontinent International Airport in Kansas City in the morning. He was flying to Denver and then on to Colorado Springs, where he would surrender all communication and begin basic training (his second one, so he wasn't nervous -- that job was all mine) the following day. I wanted to be the person who took him to the airport, the last one he saw. I think in the back of my mind I thought that he wouldn't actually go, even though I'd been picturing it in my head for months. He would try to kiss me good-bye, laugh, and tell me it was all a joke, right? Nope. Because I knew deep down that it was going to be tough, I asked a couple of friends to tag along so I wouldn't be alone right afterward.
Missy and Sam, good friends from Phi Sigma Pi, went with us to the airport and graciously let us have our last moments together as just a couple. (See, Missy is my Little, and Sam is Dan's Big, so it really was just a big, sad good-bye.) We finally left him at the airport, which was the first of many trips there that year for me. We started driving away, and Missy and Sam tried their very best to keep the conversation going so I could hold it together. (They really are amazing!) Not five minutes later, my cell phone rang; Dan's name appeared on the caller ID. He's changed his mind, I'm sure of it! Let's go back and get him! ... not. He had forgotten to take his pocket knife out of his backpack, and he needed me to take it for him so he could make it through security. I went back inside, received the knife, and we had to go through the whole dreadful good-bye once again. The second time was worse. I moped my way back out to the car, and Missy and Sam once again tried to cheer me up.
It was a long ride back to Warrensburg that day, although it was really only an hour and a half. On the way there, I saw SO many cars with Colorado license plates. It was insane and made me feel even worse. Then, a Rodney Atkins song came on the radio, and it was one that I knew well but had never taken the time to consider before. This time, the words struck me as personal, and I took not:
If you're goin' through hell,
Keep on goin;
Don't slow down;
If you're scared don't show it;
You might get out
'fore the devil even knows you're there.
Each time I hear that song, I think back to the day I took Dan to the airport for USAFA Prep School, and it always makes me smile, reassuring me that I made it through on my own and that we made it through the test together.
We all know the outcome: not only did I make it through the day with a lot of talking, reading, and eating with Missy and Sam (and spending HOURS in the book store in Warrensburg), but I am still with my military man nearly three years after the first time I dropped him off at the airport. We have now been together for three years and two months, are engaged, and will be getting married in just two years. Three years ago, would I have told you this would all work out? No, I would have laughed at you. Am I happy that it did? EXTREMELY. Words cannot say enough. I have surprised myself a lot over this time, and although I am still learning, I feel OPTIMISTIC about the future with the military rather than uneasy. After all, love conquers all things.
Before Dan left, we did take a few pictures (big surprise there!)... enjoy:
This post was definitely a trip back in time for me. When I think about that summer, it seems like it was so long ago. In reality, it hasn't even been three years yet. I cannot believe how time plays tricks like this. It seems like it was forever ago.