It was a hot day in late June 1998 and my new husband Steve, a few of our friends and I were loading a U-Haul on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg. Steve and I were heading to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. I had accepted a position at the University of North Florida and was excited to be in my new, white VW Cabrio convertible. In that moment, if anyone had said, “You’ll be back,” we would’ve laughed at them, as if we already knew all the answers to life.
Over the past 16 years, Steve and I have ventured into every new experience on our own, miles away from his family in Pittsburgh and mine in Northern Virginia. When things got tough, we stumbled, we screwed up, and we eventually figured it out. When our children were born, we used every possible aspect of “the village.” I’m proud of us for it. But, in the summer of 2013, when my declining health really started to impact the quality of our daily lives, we knew something had to change. It was scary to think of the changes we needed to make. What about our jobs that we love, is the housing market going to kill us, what about the kids and their friends, their schools, our neighbors, our friends…? The list went on and on - what were we going to do?
After roughly six months of lost sleep and countless what-if scenarios, we realized that taking risks is what we’ve always done. Reflecting on the good when things were bad helped us to see we had the strength to make the tough decision to move. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it became a flashing sign, a crystal-clear choice. And maybe, just maybe, by returning to the place we met and fell in love, moving would not only bring us closer to the family and friends we love, but it would also give us a chance to start healing, to walk our path of recovery.