Glad we are finished with part 2, because that was just depressing!
I left off by mentioning that when I found out that Brandon was researching the Air Force, I normally would have flipped out, but there was something else in play that even he didn't know about. I happened to have a secret of my own (insert suspenseful music here).
A couple of months beforehand, I did something horrible.
I forgot Valentine's Day.
I know, I know, I win the Bad Wife Award. To make matters worse, Brandon had remembered me mentioning that I liked something months beforehand, and had bought it and been hiding it for weeks. He had also surprised me with pink champagne and donuts for breakfast, and planned a special dinner out at a lakeside cafe. He had put all this time and energy into planning a romantic day, and I hadn't even bought him a card.
So, I tried to cover for myself. We were together all day, and I didn't have a chance to go shopping by myself. But on a grocery run, I managed to send Brandon on a wild goose chase while I ran down the Valentine's aisle. I saw this book called "The Love Dare", grabbed it and some chocolates, and hit the checkout line.
I had never heard of "The Love Dare" and, honestly, I was expecting it to be a totally different kind of book. . . more like a "truth or dare" game for couples. It's not that at all. It's a very serious 40 day challenge of marriage devotionals and "dares" that one person does secretly on the other person. . . which meant that I got caught, because I gave it to him before I even read the back cover and it was obvious I had no idea what it was. (Just so you know, I did eventually give him a real gift, and I went out of my way to put tons of time and energy into the next Valentine's Day. I will never forget it again.).
So, months later, I had decided to do the dares on Brandon. I still felt really bad about my lousy gift, especially when he had put so much thought into mine. I thought it would be nice to actually do all of the dares in the book for him, as kind of a late "secret" gift.
I had already completed the first eleven dares. When it dared me to buy something unexpected for Brandon, I bought him a magazine featuring the guys from Mythbusters. When it asked me to contact him unexpectedly during the day, I called the hospital (which, by the way, was a bad idea since I normally just text his cell phone. He thought somebody had died when the hospital paged him and said his wife needed to speak to him).
But then I got to day 12: "Love lets the other one win." The dare was to willingly give into an area of disagreement and tell Brandon that I would put his preferences first.
When I read that, I was stumped. Brandon and I don't disagree on much. We even like the same tv shows. Sometimes we disagree over whose turn it is to walk the dogs, but I knew that wasn't quite the same thing. To really fulfill the dare, I wanted to give in to something that really mattered to Brandon. . . and I wanted it to be a real sacrifice. Not just "Yeah, you can have the remote control" because it didn't matter to me, but something that would cost me.
So, OF COURSE, that was the day I found out about the Air Force. Why, oh why, couldn't I have discovered his plans on some other day?? When I saw the computer screen and realized what was going on, that stupid dare was the first thing that popped into my head. The second was a long string of expletives that I can't post here. ;)
So that's why I calmly asked Brandon to give me the details. My face didn't match my words (he described my expression as "quiet despair"), but at least I tried, right?
It's kind of crazy to think about how the smallest decisions can impact your life. If I hadn't forgotten Valentine's Day, I never would have grabbed The Love Dare off the shelf. . . and I would have reacted completely differently.
And honestly, if we hadn't left California early (and if our permanent jobs hadn't taken so long to call us with their offers) we wouldn't have ended up in Montana. . . and if Brandon hadn't ended up at that hospital, working with an absolutely amazing retired Navy physician and an Army Reserve nurse, he probably wouldn't have started thinking about the military again.
But I did, and we did, and he did, and somehow we ended up in that place, on that day, with that dare. . .
Of course, that's just the beginning of the story. . .