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Lost At Sea

My father always told me, "Don't be that girl that takes off her wedding ring when it doesn't match her clothes. Be the girl that loves her husband so much that she doesn't need to wear one to show people that she loves someone." And I am. But I wear my ring anyway, because it keeps him close to me when he's gone. It sometimes feels like he always gone. Especially since the war got worse.
--
"Goodbye, my love. I will come home to you, as soon as this wretched war is over. You can count on that."
Those words are what he said when he left to fight. They are what keep me going now. You hear of all the terrible things happening, and almost everyone's loved ones are in the middle of it. Fighting for the freedom of people they don't know. People they will never meet. They are dying for strangers. And the people here are doing their best to help. Women are working because the men are gone. Children are collecting scrap metal and making red cross kits for the men over seas. Everyone has a smile on their face, but everyone is crying inside. Everyone's heart stops when they see a military truck drive down the street. They breathe a sigh of relief when it drives past them. It may sound selfish, but as long as its not bringing bad news for them, they're happy.
The most worn drawer in my house is the one where I keep his letters. I read them everyday. I write him everyday. I cry for him everyday. Everyday since the war started, I curse Hitler. I curse the war. It is never ending. You hear "Germany Advances" one day, and "Is The War Finally Ending?" the next. I've learned to not get hopeful. It isn't going to end for a long time. Its already been going on for three years. Just because we were a "neutral nation" until last December, doesn't mean we weren't fighting.
He left in May. Its now November. The first couple months were the worst. I walked around like an empty shell. Summer had always been my favorite season. Maybe it was because that's when I first met him.
It was 12 years ago when he first moved here. 13 years old, he was. Old compared to my 10 years. He moved in next door to my family. Out parents became great friends, and expected us to do the same. We didn't. I thought he was gross. He would rather play with his toy boats. He was a sailor, through and through. Always wanting to go to the beach, always wanting to be on a boat. He told me once that it spoke to him. It was his best friend. I knew when the war first started that he would sign up for the navy. I asked him not to. I begged him not to. He told me that he had to. He told me he would come home safe and sound.
My father had been a doctor in the great war. He had his left leg cut off. I didn't want the same to happen to him. But he left, and now I'm alone.
---

October Fourteenth, Nineteen Forty Two

My Love,
How are things on the home front? I am hoping you are well. Thank you for the package you sent. The cookies were the best you've ever made, although a bit stale. The war is going the same as it has been. Death everywhere, on both sides. It is starting to get cold. I'm sorry I won't be home for Christmas. At least I have you to think of, many of the men on this ship have no family. Some were street urchins that wanted a life of adventure. One man's brother got taken captive by the Germans and slowly tortured. He ended up killing himself. Now all that man wants is revenge. Is that the reason we're here, though? To get revenge? Is that what is has come to now? Shouldn't we be fighting for the people who have lost everything, not those who still have so much? I'm sorry if I am troubling you, everything really isn't that bad. We will win this war, my darling. The fighting will stop, and I will come home to you.
Your's always,
H. K. O'Leary

That was one of the two letters I received that day. The other wasn't nearly as comforting. Both of them made me cry. This one out of love for my husband, away from home, fighting. The other because it ripped my beating heart out of my chest. The other was much shorter, but much worse.

November 1942
The Navy Ship "USS Degree" was lost at sea off the coast of Poland. No bodies found, entire crew declared Missing In Action.

The world was spinning. I couldn't breathe. I didn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. It could not possibly be true. There had to have been some kind of mistake. He had told me he would come home, safe and sound. He had promised. People go missing in action everyday. You almost never hear of them being found. I think about him sinking down. I see his face drowning. I think of it all. What if that happened to him? What if he never comes back?
--
Its been days since I got the letter about him. No news at all. I read the news papers closer, looking for any little word about a navy ship wercked off of Poland. Nothing is ever there. I have cried more than I ever did before. More than when he left. More than when I read the letters he sent. More then I ever thought I would be able to cry.
--
They say you'll never make it home. They say you're gone. They tell me to give it up. To give you up. I'm not going to. Not now, not ever. I will wait a lifetime. I'll never bury your clothes. I miss your half Irish grin more than I've ever missed anything. You have to come home. I won't be able to survive without you.





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