I never thought that I would meet my future hubby on a blind date.
A co-worker of mine had been bugging me and bugging me about going on a blind date with her husband’s co-worker. Finally I gave in, I figured it could be fun or a waste of my time but hopefully fun. On October 4, 2003 I got up did the Susan B Komen Race for the Cure, then later in the day I went with some friends to the air show. All this time I wasn’t nervous which is very odd for me, I am generally pretty nervous before a date let alone a blind date. That evening I met up with Karen (my co-worker) and her husband and Ray at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I again wasn’t at all nervous I was at ease; we all sat down and just started talking. I learned that he was a Staff Sargent in the Air force he was stationed at Tinker AFB. It was so easy talking to him; he made the mistake of telling me that he was scared of roller coasters and heights. So I then started picking on him about it, and quickly realized he had an awesome sense of humor and was very much so a smart ass. I knew then we would get along great.
After the restaurant we went to a local brewery to have some drinks continued to have a great time. He made a comment that his “beer was broken” I had no clue what he was talking about so I picked up his bottle and started looking it over, trying to find it to be cracked or something. All along I haven’t noticed that his bottle was empty, he just needed a new beer. I felt like such an idiot, we both got a big laugh out of it. At the end of the night we exchanged numbers. He called me a few days later and told me he was going to see his best friend in Kansas to take a break from work and to celebrate his birthday. His birthday was on October 11th I called and was hoping and praying that I would get his voice mail, I started to get butterflies when I called him and thankfully I got the voice mail. I wished him a happy birthday and told him that I hope he was having a good time with his friend.
When he came back in to town he called me asked me to go out on another date, so we did go on a few more dates. He told me after a few weeks that my calling him on his birthday sealed the deal. He knew that I was someone he wanted to spend more time with. A few months after we started dating we were lying in bed and I could feel his heart beating super-fast. I asked him if he was ok because it was kind of freaking me out. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes and then he just blurted out I love you; my response was um ok thanks. Then he proceeded to tell me that I don’t have to say it to him if I didn’t want to. Fast forward a month or two we were already living together and I was leaving to go somewhere and we were saying good bye he said I love you and without hesitation I said it right back to him, then realized what I had said and quickly ran out the door laughing he told me I could take it back if I wanted to. I didn’t take it back.
He proposed to me on August 30, 2004 he was so nervous when he asked me and he was trying to be slick by hiding the box in his pocket (I totally saw the box and knew what was about to go down). He proposed and I of course said yes, I asked him why he was so nervous and I said it’s not like I was going to say no, we live together and that would have been very awkward that made him laugh. We were going to have a real wedding but due to both of our mothers being sick we decided to go to the Justice of the Peace or the JOP as he liked to call it. We got married on March 4, 2005 (3-4-05) I am the one who thought we should get married on that day because we would never forget the day because it was 345 easy right. I all ways messed it up and said we go married on the 5th instead of the 4th. So that was one of our many inside jokes.
In January 2006 he got orders to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas NV, I was excited because all I have ever known was the mid-west and we were young and liked to have a good time, what better place to go to than Sin City. That March we found out that I was pregnant, our son Tyler was born on December 5th. He is a spitting image of his father, I joke and say that I was just the surrogate because the only thing he has from me that I can see is my curly hair and chubby cheeks. Life was great for us, although we couldn’t wait to leave NV. We wanted to get stationed closer to our families.
January 2008 Ray had a mole on his left bicep that I had been bothering him to get checked out, well he finally did. The doctors did a biopsy removed the mole. The results were conflicting the base hospital said it was malignant melanoma and the second opinion form University of Colorado said it was benign. So Ray was told it was benign and to just keep an eye on other moles that might look funny or itch.
The following March after he came home from pt he was relaxing on the couch and he noticed a lump in his left arm pit. He thought it was a swollen sweat gland, but as the days went on the lump got bigger and began hurting. Back to the doctor he went; he had an ultra sound done followed by a CT scan. The results showed that he had a mass but they couldn’t tell without biopsy if it was cancerous or not. He did a biopsy the results came back on April 8,2009 it was cancer he had melanoma.
We then had to have conversations that a 30yr old man and a 32 year old woman should never have to have. The words “If I should die, or when it happens” kept coming out of his mouth. It was so scary to think of a future without him all I could think of was our son who was just two at the time. In order to make me laugh he started cracking jokes, he told me that if he did die that it was ok with him that I remarry, I was like shut up really because that’s exactly what I was thinking about doing. I told him that if it did happen that I was going to just find the first single Officer and get married to him because I was done with dealing with enlisted men. He got a good laugh out of that.
In May we were sent to Lackland AFB to Wilford Hall so he could have the mass removed plus his lymph nodes. 27 lymph nodes were removed but only one had cancer cells in it, we thought yes he is going to be fine. He had also had ultrasounds and CT scans and PET scans, there was a spot on his left lung that showed on the PET scan. The doctors assured him that they were monitoring it not to get worked up about it and to follow thru with radiation treatment. In June we pcs’d to Lackland permanently so he could get treatment on base and at MD Anderson in Houston. He started radiation in June, July he had tumors removed from his lungs for a possible clinical trial called the TIL trial. In August he started his treatment, IL-2 or High Dose Interleukin therapy. He went in the hospital on August 17th came home for a few hours on August 25th. I had to take him to the er because he was having problems breathing. He was readmitted again, they released him on September 9th so he could go to his appointment at MD Anderson on the 10th and 11th. We had all sorts of trouble with his oxygen machine during the 3 hour trip form San Antonio to Houston. We fought because we were both scared about what was going on. We finally made it to MD Anderson he has his first appointment the doctor informed us that he was in heart failure, they admitted Ray. I stayed with him all day and late into the night, I had to get a hotel room because there was no place for me to sleep or really sit, they had him in the er until he got a room. The next morning when I got back to the hospital he broke the news that he was told he had months if not weeks left to live. My world came crashing down, I felt as if I was in another place and it was all a bad dream. I had to return to San Antonio to get my son that evening I got home around two am and was back on the road at six with our friends to go be with Ray. My son stayed with my friend’s mom, while we went to visit with Ray. He was in and out of it, it was weird the way he was acting and the things he was saying. When I left I told him that I would bring Tyler back first thing in the morning. As we were saying good bye, looking back I think I knew that it would be that last time I would hear voice and hear him say I love you. He could see my worry on my face, he kept saying ‘babe its gonna be okay”. The next morning he slipped into a coma 10 minutes before I got to him and he passed away a few hours later. This last year has been rough on my son and I. Tyler still thinks that Ray is in the hospital and that one day he will come home.
Ray was my absolute best husband, father and friend, we were so much alike and we had so much in common. He had the best sense of humor, if something was upsetting me he would say the most inappropriate thing to make me laugh. I am so thankful we shared the same wacky humor; it helped us through his battle with cancer. We had a wonderful marriage we never fought although we bickered like an old married couple. I would give anything to have those six years of my life with him back again.