Angels and Eternity - a short story in three parts pt 1
The biggest shock of the whole thing is, nine months, two weeks, three days ago they were both standing in this very spot and he was proposing to her before she shipped out. Now, here he stood, alone, waiting to claim her remains after months of planning a wedding that would never happen.
The whole thing seemed surreal. Her mother stood next to him, with a firm set to her jaw shivering, he didn’t know if it was from the cold or the reality she would be standing next to her daughters casket in minutes. Her brother just stood there, looking ahead string blankly at nothing. He was certain, he didn’t even register the plane much less what it contained.
A week ago, they had been at her mothers home, the scene still clear in his minds eye: boxes of decorations everywhere, material strewn over the chairs and sofas, lists covering every table, her family, his family, all planning their wedding from afar. Thing separated into piles, material for her to approve, decorations they had been able to fax picture to her aboard ship so she had already approved, guests lists, RSVPs, the living and dining room was a mess. Everyone was laughing; joking about the fact he was finally getting married and had finally found someone strong enough to stand up to him. He had gone out for barely 10 minutes to pick up something for her mom, and when he returned his life had ended.
He remembered the first thing he noticed when he entered the house was the silence, how very heavy it was. The he saw the Chaplain and the Admiral standing in the hall way, her mother was crying hysterically and being held up by her brother, all eyes turned to him and no one could speak. He knew what had happened, but couldn’t get his head quite around it.
He had crossed the room in two steps, firmly taken a hold of her mother and leading her to her room, calling for the Navy doctor to sedate her. He busied himself with making her comfortable, so he wouldn’t have to think. To face the reality; if he didn’t face it, it would go away, wouldn’t it?
But of course it hadn’t and her he was, waiting to go to her funeral rather then stand by her at their wedding.
When a family member goes to war, this was sometimes the result, but why don’t you expect it when the family member is a women?
The plane landed, the honor guard took their place, and the door lowered, four caskets were clearly visible from the back, all had American flags.
He heard an officer; somewhere in the distance announce to the guard that “angels” were debarking from the plane for the last time. Angels meaning soldiers who had given their all for the country.
He stood straighter, holding the hands of what would have been his family, determined to be strong for them, and for her.
Two days from now would be harder. Then what? He didn’t know, he really didn’t know. His life had ended two weeks ago when a missile had knocked her plane out of the air, and the plane rushed to the ground ending their future.
The guard began carrying down the caskets, seeing them in plain site brought home the truth. Her mom couldn’t take any longer and began sobbing, as did her brother. He stood at attention and saluted all of the caskets, tears in his eyes.
They had met in Afghanistan, Terri and Mike. They had both been involving in country the name for an operation. They recognize each other because it turned out Terri had gone to the same high school as his sister and they had been friends.
The familiarity made them feel comfortable with each other and they began to hang out when she had shore leave and he was on leave himself. They had gone to Israel on a 5 day pass, Saudi Arabia, and other places together. He could talk to her and slowly but surely they had become friends.
One night, she had reminded him that she was almost thirty and no longer his sister’s high school friend with a twinkle in her eye. He blushed and they had become a couple. The route they both new they were headed.
He rotated home and six months later so did she? Their romance heated up, both families like them together, he did to so when she told him she was heading back to the Middle East, he had brought a ring and made it official. They were standing near this spot while she was waiting to climb into her plane and join the carrier, he had proposed. She accepted.
That night she called her mother and told her to plan a wedding, she wanted to get married as soon as she could after getting back home.
And so both of their moms had begun planning the wedding of her dreams through, faxes, computers and cell phones when she was allowed to use hers it had been an exciting time.
The wedding would have been in two weeks.
He watched silently as the casket was placed in the hearse, and cried silently inside.
Instead of a wedding, they will now be planning a funereal.
Michael clamped his lips together, took the arm of Melissa, her mother and led her over to the reception.
The pain had just began.