On this day 5 years ago, my husband lost a close friend in Battle. Every November I think we forget and then something jogs my memory and I shed a tear for him, although I never met him.
But he fought alongside my husband during a difficult tour, he had a 9 month old baby and we were expecting our first, so he became a mentor of sorts to my husband, filling him in on the interesting bits of parenting. I shed a tear for his ‘Mrs’ and his daughter. I shed a tear out of gratitude that my husband is still here to raise our children; and then I feel guilty.
One day I want to write a novel about the trials of life and love within the military. Actually, one day I want to finish my novel and get it published. If ever I have the confidence and willpower and time to finish and polish and edit correctly!
Have shared an unedited extract from my notebook below if anyone is interested in reading, all criticism received with grace (& tears!)
“For those that have had to fight for it, freedom has a flavour the protected will never know” Unknown.
Never forget the sacrifices made, and still being made, daily by our armed forces and their families.
The patrol was exhausting, as usual. Sweat trickled down his forehead and his breathing was heavy under the strain of his day sack and weapon. The heat was already intense, dust sticking to his perspiration, caking his face.
They heard the bang, and as they ducked down, and scrambled for cover an RPG screamed over their heads and exploded harmlessly behind them. The RPG had kicked up a massive dust cloud in its back blast. The yelling cacophony of different accents,cursing and swearing, shouted orders, the snap of gunfire filled the air, another screech of an RPG and the smell of cordite surrounded them. Then the words that no one wanted to hear. The words that mean they have lost yet another brother in arms.
‘CAS EVAC. CASUALTY. We need a MERT’ The snap of gunfire gave way to eerie silence as the enemy retreated and the soldiers administered what first aid they could to their fallen comrade. Eventually after what felt like too long, the welcome sound of the medical evacuation helicopter broke the silence.
To the lads on the ground it sounded like the beating of angel wings.
Tears of rage stream down her face. The raindrops on the window pane echo her tears as she stares vacantly, watching a miserable November day become a miserable November evening, her laptop balanced on her lap. The tears fall onto the keyboard and she struggles with the email she is writing:
The scan went well, baby is growing and about the size of a melon now. (I FEEL HUGE!!)….
If only you could have been there…
If only you could call…
Beth stares at the sealed envelope in her hand and places it against the computer screen, half hoping the blueish light from the screen might reveal its secret. Her hands hover, poised over the keyboard but she has nothing else she can think of to say. She can’t beg him to come home, she doesn’t want to ask how it is going, she knows she will only be greeted with silence, evasions, or more bad news of injuries and worse. And today, it is just too hard to pretend that normality is… well normal, without him here.
She hits the refresh button on her email, saving the draft and checking her inbox: Nothing. Instead the headline ‘Marine killed in Afghanistan’ haunts her.
She can’t help but morbidly wonder what would she do without him in her life. How would she cope raising a child alone at 26? Would it be easier to raise a girl or a boy as a single mother she wonders, staring intently at the envelope that would reveal that information about her baby, for her. What would she tell them about their father? Would she be strong enough to tell them he is a hero that died fighting for his country? or would she be too bitter and sad – too angry that he left her alone to raise them? The anger is easier to feel than the sadness. Would they want to hear stories of your heroics and bravery, or would they want to know the romance of how he saved her from herself?
Car headlights illuminate the room, and as it’s nearly 1 am she sneaks a peek behind the curtain and immediately wishes she hadn’t. A military police car pulls into the close, it slows down and in her mind she can see a stranger coming to her door to break her heart, their job made harder by the sight of her swollen tummy.
But it turns and slowly leaves – just a routine patrol. A kick from the baby inside her belly reminds her to breathe again.
The refresh button miraculously works – She has mail!
It’s not from him, its junk mail offering a cut price deal on something she doesn’t want. Her heart sinks lower than she thought possible. So she shuts down the computer and heads to bed in her rage. Angry at the lack of control she has over her own life. Angry at him. Angry at the military. Angry and frustrated.”