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Sam rose from their bed; obviously, Taylor had not slept last night, because she was not in their bed. She never got up before him. He walked downstairs into the living room. It was empty and the TV was on a music station playing a song he didn’t recognize. He then strolled into the kitchen where he saw her standing by the counter, making a pot of coffee. Then he let the sweet smell of pancakes, bacon, and sausage waft through his nose. Taylor turned around slowly after hearing him walk into the room. “Good morning honey.” Taylor’s expression was a mixture between sadness, happiness, and longing.
“Good morning love.” Sam returned with a smile that melted Taylor’s heart. A smile she wished she could wake up to every morning. Sam, seeing a sad thought cross Taylor’s mind said
“Tay it’s going to be okay Hun.”
“You say that all the time. How do you know it will be okay? It’s a war zone.” Tears were welling up in her eyes now.
Sam walked over to her, wrapped her in his arms, squeezed her tight, and whispered in her ear. “I promise you I’ll be okay, I will come home. I always come home”
“Okay” Taylor whispered back still holding back tears.
“It’s going to be okay. I will fight for you.”
Taylor didn’t say a word she just looked into Sam’s big brown eyes and her heart melted in her chest just as it always did when she was with him. When he looked into her eyes she got a sweet feeling of content. She was safe and loved. Slowly she wiggled out of his arms to finish making breakfast. Sam walked to the counter and grabbed a cup of coffee, then proceeded to the living room to watch the morning news.
Taylor soon called Sam into the kitchen. They ate in silence. There were a million things Taylor needed to say to Sam and she just couldn’t fathom that in less than two hours he had to leave. There was no stopping it. Sam just continued to look up into Taylor’s eyes seeing the sadness and worry on her face. He just flashed a sweet smile to her then continued to eat. They finished breakfast and went up stairs to get Sam ready in his ABUs to ship off.
As Taylor went into their closet to get his uniform, she lifted it slowly out of its hanging place in the closet, turned around, looked up into his eyes, and with a broad smile on her face said, “Sam, I am so proud of you. Never in my life have I been able to say I was more proud of anyone. You are my hero and I never want you to forget that.”
Holding back a tear Sam rushed across the room slings the uniform on their bed and wraps her in his arms around Taylor as if he were never going to let go. Finally, after a long time of smiling and tears he, backed up, and put on his shirt one then slipped his jacket on. Taylor walked downstairs with his bag in hand out the door to the car. She went back into the house back upstairs, Sam was dressed in his uniform, Taylor looked at him, and she was gleaming with pride.
Looking at her giggling, he asked her, “What?”
With nothing but a shrug she said, “Oh nothing just you.”
They walked out the door hand in hand to the car. This was it. It was a twenty-minute drive to the Base and then it was goodbye. The drive was beyond short. As both exited the car, Taylor began holding back sobs as tears streamed down her face while they walked towards the gates. Sam took her hand
“Tay don’t worry honey it’s going to be okay. I promise I’ll come home.”
“You can’t promise that and you know it.”
“No,” Sam said with a sly smile “you’re right I can’t, but I can promise you most of me will come home.” His small attempt at humor did nothing for Taylor.
“Not helping hon,” Taylor said still crying.
Trying to stop her from crying Sam said “Taylor, say this after me. Sam will come home.”
Taylor took a deep breath in, “Sam will come home.” She stopped sobbing now, just letting silent tears slide down her face. “I love you, Sam.”
“I love you too, Taylor. I will love you forever with all my heart.”
Taylor just smiled, squeezed his hand, and one more time looked into his eyes, and asked for one last kiss.
A month went by when Taylor received a letter from Sam. The letter read:
“It’s been a month I’ve been over here my love. Time goes so slow without you by my side. I don’t know how you’re doing or what you’ve been up to and that kills me. But we have already been sent out on a mission. I do not want you to worry dear but I will not be able to write for quite some time. I cannot tell you where I’ll be or give you any more information. I just want you to know I love you and I will come home. This will all be over soon.”
Taylor placed her hand on the counter leaving the letter lay there. She had no idea what to think. She had spent most of the last month doing anything and everything to keep busy. She slept in his favorite hoodie at night and clung to a pillow instead of him. She cried herself to sleep more nights than she could count, well that was when she slept. Most nights she lay in bed tossing and turning finally stopping and just looking up at the ceiling and thinking. Thinking made her cry more. She thought about how he wasn’t here. She thought about where he was. She thought about the best and worst cases. She didn’t know how it could get any harder.
Soon another month went by, no letter. Taylor decided not to worry. ‘Sam was still out on his mission and still unable to write.’ That’s what she told herself every day.
As the third month on the deployment rolled around Taylor’s friends and family started to notice she wasn’t the same. She didn’t really talk anymore. She didn’t go out. She didn’t do anything but go to work and come home. She never interacted with anyone.
Taylor’s sister decided she needed a night out to get her out of her misery. Taylor reluctantly agreed knowing her sister would not back down until she got a yes. She got herself dressed up, put a little make-up on, and went out with her sister. They laughed and giggled like old times. They had a good night and went back their separate ways. Taylor soon fell back into her old ways. It was like there was no way to get her out of it. She was a zombie trapped in a body conformed to fit society. She would not lose her cool and she would not act irrational, because there was always a reason to have hope. Taylor held onto her reasons for hope.
She woke up one morning earlier than normal; she could not fall back asleep. She climbed out of bed and found her way to the living room downstairs, and turned on the TV to a news report. She snapped out of her groggy haze to the voice of an older man on the news, “Four United States Air Force jets were shot down late last night making their mandatory weekly rounds. Captain Jonathan Young, First Lieutenant David Aid, First Lieutenant Samuel McBride,” She didn’t wait to hear the last name, everything suddenly went blank. Taylor’s heart stopped she knew what was next but refused to believe it. She fell back on the couch, shaking but thinking nothing, she didn’t know whether to scream, cry, or refuse to believe it. She didn’t have time to do any of the three. Her cell phone rang on the counter in the kitchen; she must have forgotten to take it to bed with her last night.
She didn’t know how she got herself to her phone. She simply heard herself say “Hello.”
“Taylor, oh Taylor it can’t be true!” She heard her frantic sister’s voice on the other end. “It’s not true darling, it just can’t be.”
Taylor didn’t say a word. She couldn’t respond. She couldn’t feel her own body, let alone fathom words.
“Taylor? Taylor!” Her sister obvious of Taylor’s state begged her to respond.
Taylor suddenly realized what was happening. She lay the phone down on the counter, slid down to the floor, curled her hands over her knees, and began to sob. Sam was gone, he was really gone. He wouldn’t come home. It was not seven months without him anymore. It was forever, waking up alone every morning, never hearing the sound of little pattering feet on the floor, she would never head a young, small voice cry ‘mommy’ or giggle to the laughter of her daddy tickling her. She was alone. She would never say I love you to him again. He would never say it to her. She would never hear his soft velvet voice, drawing her in, melting her heart, bringing tears of joy to her eyes. She would never hear that voice speak the sweet, soft words “I love you” or “You’re beautiful” ever again. She would be with another man, but she would never be with Sam again.
“You promised!” Taylor screamed to no one. “You promised you would come home!”