‘I have cancer. One of the incurable ones they can’t remove by surgery. It will always come back. I’ve been fighting this for four years, they gave me five.’

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“I met my wife in the summer of 2003. She was friends with my sister, who I was sharing a drink with, along with my other sister and some friends. I had just come home on leave from the Army and wanted to spend some time with them. We didn’t hit it off right away, but there was a spark between us that we hadn’t quite realized just yet.

About a year later, we reconnected over the phone and over the course of about a month, we developed a long-distance relationship that grew and blossomed into the most beautiful relationship I’ve ever heard of. For the next nine months, we talked on the phone every day. Missing only a week here and there because of training, but otherwise we didn’t miss a beat. She came out to see me three times, and I was able to go only once, but that was during Christmas and it was when I proposed.

Middle aged couple smiles in selfie with waterfall in background

Here’s where her strength started to show. Marrying me meant leaving behind everything and everyone she’s ever known, packing up her life, her son, and anything else we could fit in the moving truck; coming to live with me. To say she took a leap of faith would be an understatement. Unbeknownst to the both of us, this meant she would be giving up a large portion of her identity, and for most of the next ten years, she became ‘Sergeant Moss’s Wife.’

Husband and wife hold up cocktail at event

We got married June 5, 2004 and immediately moved to Oklahoma. It was a huge adjustment moving from the mountains and forests of Idaho to the flat plains of the Sooner State. But no sooner than we got there (no pun intended), the Army decided to give us both a fresh start. I received orders to be a recruiter in Los Angeles County, California. So the three of us loaded up the truck and moved to Palmdale, California. Still in LA County, but far from the glitz and glamour of swimming pools and movie stars.

Recruiting is a tough gig. Long hours, high pressure, six days a week, etc., but we were grateful because it wasn’t a deployment. The year was 2005 when we first got there, and while I wasn’t hiding from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wasn’t ready to leave my wife, my step-son Jordan, and now my daughter to be, since Kim got pregnant right before we left Oklahoma. When Courtney was born, she had colic. She cried all day long, I was gone from about 7 AM to around 9 PM every day, so there was little I could do to help. Kim shouldered that burden all alone. She didn’t have her family nearby. We were friendly with, but not that close to the other recruiter’s wives, and Jordan, now 11-years-old, was trying to figure out where he fit in. For three years she was basically a single parent removed from the all of the support she desperately needed, until we moved back to Oklahoma.

Sergeant stands smiling with wife beside

When we got to Oklahoma, I got placed in a unit bound for Iraq, but we knew it was coming so it wasn’t a complete surprise. No, our surprise came when we learned her step-father, who she considers to be her dad, was diagnosed with cancer. He later passed in June 2009, and I left for Iraq within a month. I can’t imagine the turmoil that was swirling in her mind, but she handled it like a champ.

I wish I could say my deployment to Iraq went smoothly. About halfway through, I got sick to the point I was bleeding internally and ended up getting MEDEVAC’d to Landstuhl, Germany. I was in the ICU for a week, then inpatient for two more until I was recovered enough to go back to Iraq and finish the deployment with my soldiers.

Again, keeping things in perspective, Kim didn’t get a chaplain at the door saying I wasn’t coming home, but it’s not a stretch to say she was waiting for the car to pull up. Things settled down for a little bit once I got home, and for the next year or two everyone was happy. Things were even pretty good when I went to Afghanistan, and Kim’s mom came to stay with her through that deployment. Then the Army moved us to Indiana. Then we heard about Kim’s mom.  She had cancer, we lost her a month later. Kim was very close to her mother, and this rocked her to her core. It’s been a couple years since then and she still feels that stinging pain and emptiness that will never go away. But again, she handles everything with a beauty and grace that I admire so much. Kim and I have been through a lot, so much more than is even listed here. Having said that though, we weren’t prepared for the latest bit of news.

Husband and wife smile in selfie holding up drinks

I have cancer. One of the incurable ones they can’t remove by surgery. If I go into remission, it will always come back. I’ve been fighting this for four years now, they gave me five, but by God I’m going to beat that by a mile! Kim is counting on me and I can’t let her down. Throughout our journey, we’ve hit some amazing highs, and we’ve hit some unbearable lows. But through it all, Kim and I have found strength in each other. We hold hands at the market, dance in the kitchen, and still get lost in each other’s souls. When things aren’t so good, we hold on to each other for support until we find our footing again. We’re not perfect, but we are perfect for each other. She is my soulmate and the best friend I’ve ever had.”

Man with cancer sits in hospital bed with hair net on

Husband and wife sit on ground outside with their daughter and son

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Richard Moss. Submit your story here. For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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