The gravel crunched under her feet as she walked to the end of the lane. The mail waiting in the tin mail box she had painted little white and purple flowers on a couple of months ago. She was waiting on a letter. One from her Soldier.
Only eighteen but she had loved him for as long as she could remember. They grew up together in the sense they attended the same school. She always thought he was the most handsome boy in school, but he never seemed to notice her till their junior year of high school. He enlisted wanting to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He loved America as much as he loves her it seemed. With a fierce passion to protect and defend. When he was sent out to Vietnam it was hard for her. Working in the diner pouring cups of coffee waiting for him to come home.
They had a simple wedding few months before he had left. He had been over there six months. It felt like forever. Married nine months only three were with him home, safe and warm.
She took a deep breath as she opened the mail box. She took the small stack and went through each one looking for the one that told her he was okay. Nothing. Maybe tomorrow. She made her way to the little house that they share. He painted the house a pretty shade of blue with white shutters and wrap around porch that had the porch swing he built on the left of the porch. She walked in and went to the desk where she kept all his letters and started rereading them. Stay calm, she whispered to herself. Surely there will be a letter tomorrow. She got to the last one, he was happy and safe. Their wedding picture sat on the desk, the smiling faces of two kids who just wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. In her heart, she knew he was the mate of her soul. There couldn’t be anyone else for her. No one else could possibly put up with her constant need to paint, or be willing to eat her lumpy mash potatoes or drink her too tart lemonade. No else could possibly have her heart the way he did.
The next day, like she does every day, walking down the gravel lane to get the mail out of the pretty painted mail box. She opens to another small stack, none are from him. She fought back tears mixed with fear and frustration. She told him somethings and needed to read his letters. They are all she had to communicate with him. She makes her way back to the house. The house was too quiet so she turns on the radio. Mel Cater singing Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me filled the room. Their song. She started on the little bit of dishes she needed to wash. Her tears adding to the bubbled dish water.
Morning came and then turned into that time of day when she would make the trip down the gravel lane. As she stepped out of the house, a cab pulls up. No one in the back seat. As the driver gets out and walks to her, she notices the color of the envelope in his hand. The color of We Regret To Inform You. The world felt like it was spinning. This had to be a nightmare. With the telegram in her hand she opened it to read that her sweet,loving, caring best friend, her husband had been killed. She should call someone, her mother most likely. She couldn’t think. Except that she needed to make her usual trip to the pretty painted mail box and see if she had a letter. With her heart seeming to take residence in her throat, she walked down the gravel lane. She opened the tin mail box with little white and purple flowers painted on it. There was a single letter sitting inside. His last letter.
He told her how he couldn’t wait to come home. How excited he was to become a father. How he hoped for a girl. Even giving her his name idea. Then ending the letter telling her how much he loved her.
With weak knees and letter clutched tightly in trembling hands she made her way back to the house. She sat in his favorite chair and put a hand on her rounded stomach and began to cry for the love of her life.
A few months later new life came into the world screaming and red faced. A little girl given the name her father picked for her. Her mother holds her close and begins to hum a Lullaby. Baby girl quieted down and her mother cuddled her close. Then she began to tell her sweet baby girl the story of her father. The first of a lifetime of keeping the memory of a brave soldier alive.