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Letters From Home

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Could that really be him, the love of my life? Were my eyes cheating me and putting someone in place of him. Yes, I hadn’t seen him in three years but could this really be him?
Caroline walked to the door as she saw a young man that, if her eyes weren’t cheating her, looked just like Landon, the man that she married and loved with all her heart. She doubted it was him, because she hadn’t seen him in three years and only read his million letters over and over to believe he was really alive and coming home. But she didn’t know that for sure. Her neighbor’s husband had gone to war and never returned. He had left her with two children. Landon and Caroline had made a vow never to have children until he got home because of that reason. He didn’t want to leave her with a child and no father, he wanted to be there. If he came back he would know that God wanted them to have a family with a father and a mother. But all she had now was a million letters and the ring on her finger that was a foundation of their love.
Still walking to the door, time began to slow down. All seemed to stop.
*******************
Three Years Earlier

Caroline had gotten a boarding pass just so she could say good bye to Landon. This was the moment she hadn’t wanted to come, but couldn’t stop from happening. This was one thing that she thought of when she married him six months ago. She knew that she wasn’t going to stop him from doing something that he really wanted to do. He had told her that he would be gone for three years except for one trip home for one Christmas. She had told herself that her teaching job would keep her mind at ease and every time she looked at the diamond ring on her finger, meant that he was there and still with her wherever she was.

A ring at the time of their wedding just seemed like something people did because it was what you were supposed to do. But now that Landon was leaving her, for who knows how long, this ring was the memento of their life. The ring was him. He was with her right around her finger. But what if he died? What would she do then? But she couldn’t think about that now he was here now and every once in a while she would hear his voice when he called her every other week.

As she sat there looking at him intently eat his, hamburger from McDonalds, she thought of the letter she had placed in his luggage. This was a goal of hers, to send letters to him every week. She had placed the letter on the top of his luggage and when he got to Iraq he would open it up and think of her.
Dear Landon,
The time has come for you to leave but I know that you really aren’t leaving me. You are just going somewhere for a year or two. Nothing we can’t handle together.
When you asked me to marry you I knew that you were kind of like a package deal. If you were to mar-ry, I would have to understand that at any minute you would leave me and never come back. I think that is what keeps me loving you. You always told me that if you leave you would always come back for me and see me again. Our goodbyes are not forever. You never ever told me that you were mad at me, and you put up with everything. My life wouldn’t be the same without you. You are my life. I don’t know what I would be doing if you hadn’t come in and asked me to marry you. When you get out we will have a life that if full of joy and happiness.
I don’t want you to think that I am making all this up. I really want you to come home soon. Cathy can only take your place for so long, I mean at the dinner table or on night outs. But I think it will be just as good for her as for me. I wish this letter could be longer but I don’t think there is any more ways I can say I love and miss you than to say it. I LOVE AND MISS YOU so much. Just the thought of you not being next to me will be hard to get used to. But you will be home before you know and I know it and we will be in each other’s arms. I can’t wait until you come home. Landon just when you are feeling down look at the ring, that is me wrapped right around your finger…. I still can’t figure out how I ended up there…… oh yeah maybe because I love you soooooooooo much!!!
Your loving wife,
Caroline xoxoxoxoxoxoxox
*******************

As she stared off into the distance she could tell Landon wanted to say something.

“Did you ever really think this day would come?” he asked with a smirk.

“Not really, but I did have the thought when we got married you would have to leave some time or another. You are in the army and there is a war going on. But I didn’t think it would be six months after we got married. It does seem really soon.” Caroline said trying to not cry.

“Flight 243 with service to Miami, Florida is now ready for general boarding for passengers on this flight. Thank you for your patience and welcome aboard,” the loud speakers came on and I knew it was time.

“Well I guess that this is it. Here do you want the rest of this?” he asked Caroline handing her the rest of his ¼ pounder Angus beef sandwich with an extra order or fries.

“No, you take it. I don’t think that you will find these in Iraq and you have a long ride to Germany. I think that you need it more than I do. I can drive down to McDonalds and get one myself.”

As they made their way over to the gate Landon swooped her up into his arms and kissed her with the most passionate kiss he could muster up. Caroline did the same and was very surprised that he would do that in the middle of the airport. But apparently that didn’t stop him from showing his love.

“As long as you love me I will come back.”

“I love you Landon Pike. We will see each other soon. Just keep that in mind.”

“This is the final boarding call for Flight 243 with service to Miami, Florida. Please make your way to the gate as it will be closing in two minutes. Thank you!”

“Call me when you get the chance!! I LOVE YOU LANDON!!!!”

“I LOVE YOU TOO, CAROLINE!”

Those were the last words before he stepped through the gate to board his plane, in his army combat gear; boots, jacket, beret, and his bag that read “Sargent LMP”. That stood for Sargent Landon Michael Pike. She loved the way it sounded. As she looked out the window to see him board the plane, a tear moved down her face, one thing she didn’t want to do; cry when he left. She had to keep telling herself he was coming back and he wouldn’t leave her all alone. Something about the tear was different this time. It was almost like a happy tear. Like she knew that he was coming back and was happy about it.

As the plane took off, Caroline turned to leave. Caroline walked down the terminal she saw the faces of people. Some were happy some were distressed and some were sad. She told herself that no one is feeling like me; her heart broke in two. Caroline had made her way to the parking garage and looked for her keys in her purse. As she did she noticed an envelope that was placed in there. Maybe t it was just a bill that she had to pay up at city hall but then looked at it again. No this wasn’t a bill this was a letter, a letter to her. She tore open the envelope, her heart fluttered as she read the first words.

My Dearest Caroline,

By the time you are reading this I will hopefully be on my way to Iraq, a place that I want and don’t want to go. I know, and you know that it is my duty to serve and that I love what I do. That is not to say that I don’t want to leave you all by your lonesome while I have to survive all by myself. I guess we are alike. You are by yourself, and I am by myself. I don’t want you to think for a moment that I would rather be here than in your arms or you in mine. I think that when I married you, I knew that you understood what I had to do as a soldier. You were the only one that really knew that I must do this, even when it would take me thousands of miles away from you. I know that this is hard to believe but I will be a day ahead of you!!!

Caroline, when I asked you to marry me I figured that you wouldn’t, because I was in the Army and you didn’t want to think that I would leave and never come back. But with you, that is not the case. You have this idea that if I die we will see each other again. I share that faith with you. If I die than I will see you. That is what brought us together. We were meant for each other. I can’t remember a girl that I dated that thought about a future with me. They learned that I was in the Army and turned away. You turned toward me. I LOVE YOU FOR THAT!!!! You looked beyond the fact and it powered you to love even more. You somehow knew that we would live together. Maybe you did and maybe you are living now and not thinking about later. You have made the commitment to love and cherish me and you plan on doing that until you or I die, and even after. When I get back we will have a wonderful life ahead of us. I can’t wait to get home. I LOVE YOU AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU…..FOREVER!!!!!!
Love Landon

It would be three years until she saw him again and but even then, she didn’t know if he would come home. That was when he was off of duty and if he wanted he had the choice to re-enlist or stop at three years and call it good. Caroline hoped that he would choose to be done and finish his degree at college but she knew that he also liked being in the army. It kept him busy and that is what he liked to be, busy.

After driving for about six hours back home Caroline decided that she wasn’t going to let this time while he is gone, keep her from having fun. Right as she got home she called her best friend Cathy to see if she wanted to have dinner at a restaurant.

“Well yeah. Would this be a girl’s night out?”
Cathy said with joy.
“If that is what you want it to be than that sounds good. Where do you want to meet? I was thinking the Little Dinner down on 35th and Sycamore,” Caroline said not trying to sound glum and sad. She really needed to talk to someone.

“Yeah that works great. I have a hair appointment at five, right down the street. When I am done I will come over that should be about five-thirty or six. Do you want to meet at six? We can talk all we want. I have nothing going on tonight.”

“Sure I will see you then!!! BYE!!!”

With that she hung up the phone. Now what to do ‘till then? Quietly she thought to herself, looking at her watch. It read 2:13. This is going to be different. I am going to need to occupy myself all day every day for three years. She hoped that he would be able to stand the time alone.

After her dinner with Cathy she felt better. Cathy had asked if she could come over very often to hang out and eat dinner with Caroline. Of course Caroline said yes because Cathy was her best friend and she needed a best friend. Caroline felt that over the next few years she would have to live with herself, Cathy or other friends.
*****************

After one year of living without Landon, Caroline had gotten into a groove. She would get up, go to work, get a coffee with Cathy, check the mail, come home, feed the dog she had gotten, sit down to dinner, read a book, write on her latest letter to Landon, and go to bed. That was her typical day. She finally opened up the latest letter she had started to Landon and finished it with the intent of sending it and getting an immediate reply. Of course that reply would take two weeks to get but any words from Landon would be worth the wait.

My Dearest Landon,


The last time I talked to you was last year. Yes I have talked to you on Skype but that is not the same as seeing you handwriting and imagining your face as you write letters. Have I told you that I got a dog? I named her Gwen. She is a golden retriever. She is the one thing other than you that I know will always come home and loves me always. This letter will have to be short because I need to sleep and get some rest. I have been working hard and grading papers. Everyone is having fun here and nothing much has changed. My sister just had a baby. A little girl, named Tiffany. Catlin has had fun coming over and hanging out. We had tea and cookies one day and cake the other. Do you remember her? She would ask if she could come over when you were here. She is now six and has the most beautiful face.

Everything is going good here. I have had fun with Cathy. I got my hair cut and dyed. We also went and got our nails done, but you don’t want to hear about that. I LOVE YOU and hope that you are having ‘fun’ but don’t get bored and don’t feel bad because you are there and I am here. I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!!!
Your loving wife,
Caroline

She folded the letter and put it into an envelope and set it in the mail box so it would go out first thing that morning. She didn’t know it at the time but it would take two weeks to get to Iraq, and it would be opened by military mail.

After sending the letter Caroline waited for a reply. Thinking it would only take two weeks to get a reply, like before. Instead after four or five weeks she still hadn’t gotten a letter back. This was very unusual and was not like Landon to keep her waiting. Of course she started to worry if he was alright or safe. She had not re-ceived a letter from the military that said Landon was dead. This meant that he was still alive. Maybe he was trying to figure out what to say or he was out on a mission and had not gotten it. This started to worry her when after four months she never had gotten a response. So she decided to send another shorter follow up letter. Maybe the last one got lost in the mail.

Dear Landon,

I haven’t talked to you in forever. Five months is too long. Where have you been? Have you been out on a mission or have you been too busy to talk to me? I really want to talk to you? You are making me worried. All that I know is that you have to be alive. I would feel something different if you weren’t. You have to be there.

I STILL LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Caroline xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Her life continued to be the same but slowly she began to lose a part of her. A part of her was fading, and quickly. Gwen’s fur didn’t feel as soft and Catlin’s visits didn’t seem very important. She was beginning to lose her everyday senses. It felt like Landon was close and faraway at the same time. That was until the day she heard the car pull into the drive and a man step out. All at once she knew her life had just begun.





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