Soldier 6 and Alexis

It’s interesting to me how easy it is to talk about Josh, everything we went through, and everything I’ve gone through without him but to talk about stuff I’ve gone through before cancer is tough. I was asked for a bio from Soldier 6 as they prepare to gift me my service dog and lets just say it’s fairly vague (for the sake of my mother and because well, I just really don’t want to talk about the details). We are one week away from bringing Alexis home. Below, is what they posted on their site:

Help me welcome our newest member to the Soldiers 6 family, Natasha Orbeck. She and K9 Alexis will join forces one week from today. Below is her bio and pictures that she chose to share. They are beautiful and show her journey in joy and sorrow. We truly believe better days are ahead Natasha. Welcome❤️🐾 you are never alone. #evenheroesneedbackup

I was born in California and moved to Minnesota when I was 4 years old. My childhood was not easy and before my senior year of high school, I moved into my own apartment and joined the military. I worked as a waitress and bartender my entire senior year and often closed the place down. Needless to say, my grades took a dive. I did graduate and then quickly shipped off to my final phase of training known as AIT where I became a Combat Medic. I spent 1 year with a medevac unit stateside before volunteering to deploy with a separate unit.
We were stationed in Balad however I was one of the “lucky” medics that got to travel to other bases. I visited Tahlil, Basrah, Baghdad and Camp Warhorse to name a few. I received an ARCOM for my work as a medic which is something to be proud of however, I came home a different person.
I was skittish, angry, impatient, nervous, hyper vigilant and exhausted all of the time. I denied any issues as I continued to move forward in life by doing the things society expected. I went back to my job, bought a house and continued living despite the overwhelming thoughts of what if I just drove off this cliff or if I took all these pills at once…..
Then it happened, I met someone. A police officer in fact! He encouraged me to seek help and I reluctantly registered at the Minneapolis VA Post Traumatic Stress Recovery Clinic. Together with the PTSR clinic and my new boyfriend, I grew to enjoy life much more, be more confident and feel like I was in a good place. This boyfriend eventually became my husband and our lives became a never-ending story of goal seeking chaos mixed with an everlasting love.
I started college (again) and earned a degree before my husband decided to switch up his career a bit. He went from Police Officer to State Trooper so again our world had a little bit more chaos than order.
Then it happened, we’ got pregnant! In the midst of his academy and halfway through my second college degree! There was a lot of uncertainty with how we would make it work but we did. We lived separate until just before we had the baby. Our baby girl was born and we were excited to finally be parents!
Eventually, his work brought us full circle and we were able to move back to where we started. By this point, I realized the degree I had earned would not transfer so easily into jobs that I could work within an hour of home. I was not willing to live separate again so I offered myself up for college again… I began nursing school in 2015.
Then it happened, cancer. In the midst of our lives finally settling down and halfway through my third degree, my rock, my person was diagnosed with cancer. I stayed strong and positive as best as I could, and he did too. We had built a foundation of faith and love and knew that with everything we had been through, supported each other on, and been victorious in, that this fight would be no different.
Except it was. On July 27, 2017 just 13 months after diagnoses, my husband went to be with Jesus. Now I was there alone to fight my demons who were being stirred up in record fashion except I’m a mom now so I can’t just throw in the towel. Suppress, ignore and carry on is what I did. I’m a soldier after all; I can do this.
Many people saw me struggling but I assured them I would do no harm. Mentally that was hard, but my heart could not fathom leaving our daughter without both parents. I was offered a service dog before, but I denied it and said, “give it to someone who needs it more”.
After 10 months of being a single mom of one, I decided to become a single mom of two. Prior to Josh’s chemotherapy treatments, we banked specimens to continue our family. I made the gut-wrenching decision to follow through with our dream. I knew I wouldn’t get my fairytale ending but I felt compelled to live out what plans I could, and I am proud to say God gave us a boy!
It’s so easy to smile on the outside and occupy yourself with the demands of your days especially when kids are involved however, at night when they sleep and you’re up alone, your mind gets going again and it’s a fight to get back up after the spiral down to the demons.
I thought being a medic and seeing what I’d seen, helping those I could and failing others was the hardest thing I’d ever endure and it still pretty high up there but nothing can prepare you or come close to the pain of losing your person. The one man who didn’t turn away when I “wasn’t okay”. Now I talk to a stone and shake my fists at the sky and simply wonder why I have been asked with carrying so much. What does God see in me that this weight continues to rise?
Then in September of 2018, my battle committed suicide. Suddenly the grief over losing my Josh and everything prior became impossible to hide behind a smile. I knew I needed something, and I reluctantly agreed to have a service dog. I was met with a “finally!” as Dana could see all too well the need but could not move forward without my go ahead.
I am both anxious and excited to receive my dog as many have told me what a difference it makes. The one piece of humor I continue to find in it all is that she’s a lab. My husband Josh convinced me to get a lab once because “they only shed twice a year” I never questioned this but quickly realized that their “shedding seasons” lasted 6 months at a time.
I’d like to believe my husband is looking down and proud of the steps I have made for myself and our children and I am almost certain he is laughing over the fact that Alexis is a lab!
I am realizing that not only is it ok to be broken, it’s ok to ask for help and I pray Alexis helps me get back to the me I once was instead of this shattered soul who wears a mask.


Septembers have always been hard for me in relation to dealing with PTSD and anxiety. There is so much to be said for someone who can stand by your side when you’re hurting and make you feel like it’s ok to not be okay.

There are always hills and valleys in life and when you can find someone to talk through it all with, suddenly the downs don’t seem so deep and the highs are in the clouds.

Unfortunately, Brad was not that person. When things got rough for me, he deemed it too much to handle and left.

You don’t get to hill jump and avoid the valleys. You have to take one with the other and work through it. Grow through it.

Often I hear of couples growing apart and I get it, it happens. But what about those that choose to grow together?

Relationships are never perfect. I try to be patient and understanding in every new relationship because I know it’s all new for me and for the other person. How often do you find a 30 year old widow? (actually more often then you’d think but that besides the point)

Long story short, I was blindsided and while I wish him well, there will be no lasting friendship from it.

I will continue to keep an open mind because I’m not one to write off a chance at love again. I want to love and be loved but again, I am in no rush. I will no longer be outwardly seeking via online. I am over it. Love is such a beautiful thing when you can share it with someone who appreciates it. Here’s to hoping and keeping the faith that God’s plan has love in it.

I will admit I’d like to find love sooner than later but good things come to those who wait so I will simply put on my big girl panties and forge fires like I always do. I have got no time to dwell on something that didn’t work. Instead, I’ll spend my energy on things that do work while continuing to make forward progress in my studies, self care, and ability to be the best mom to these kids.

As big as the universe

The end of August and beginning of September are jam packed. Cole Joshua turns two and Amelia begins school! How can that be? It’s so incredible to watch kids grow and learn! I wish Josh was here to see it in person but I know he is beaming down with pride at all of us.

I am Cole’s favorite aunt and Amelia loves me more than I love her… or so she thinks anyway. Gabriel continues to be along for the ride and he hardly ever cries!

When we begin to talk about school, Amelia is excited. I know she is ready because she is bored at daycare. I am still a bit of a nervous nelly over all of it and I am really hurting knowing that Josh doesn’t get to walk her to class. I just know I am going to encounter dads walking their daughters and as happy as I am to see her begin this new adventure, I am going to be equally heartbroken.

I guess thats just how it goes in this life. Watching her walk down the hall as if she owned the place was quite the sight. She has so much confidence and the sweetest heart.

She is going to move mountains this one. She loves gymnastics, singing, dancing, barbies and the color pink…. yup, despite my greatest efforts, pink is still her favorite color. She is sensitive yet tough and amazingly patient with me unless she’s hungry! Come to think of it, this sounds pretty similar to me! Maybe she does have more of me than I thought! I cannot wait to watch her learn and grow. I am so grateful I get to be her mom!

She is so smart and she has recently started saying I love you more than…. and picking things that are big…

“Mommy, I love you as big as the world!”

She may love me as big as the world but it is so clear that I love her and her brother much much more than that….

“I love you as big as the universe little ones”

As big as the universe.