Hello everyone! I hope you are having a blessed Memorial Day. As we pause to remember those who have died to keep us free, please take a moment to pray for their families. They are still living the nightmare of waking up everyday without their loved one. Their brothers and sisters in arms wake up everyday without a text or call from their buddy. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
The parade came, and we had the truck all gussied up, with red, white, blue, and Army green. Hud drove with his BDUs on, and I sat on the back, waving at those who gathered to honor all our fallen soldiers. We got saluted by more people than I could count.
I got a hug from a Vietnam veteran. Another from a WWII Vet. A handshake from a Confederate reenactor. A salute from a Marine who looked suspiciously like Salem Springfield, but I couldn’t be sure.
We went to the football field for the ceremony, the laying of the wreaths and the gun salute and the singing of the National Anthem done by a member of every military branch, a Capella.
Then came the moment for the music. Becca stepped onto the platform, violin in hand, a mic before her to sing at intervals…while I played her backup…on Stanley’s violin. Becca had written the song, and we had practiced like crazy all Saturday evening and between church on Sunday.
And it was perfect. It was called, Do You Remember, Because I Can’t Forget. Soul-Stirring. And heart-wrenching. I cried all the way through it. But I cried even harder when she said, “Normally a dedication is given before a song is sung. But I’m going to do it now because it’s right. This song is dedicated to two Rangers, SPL Randy Bonner , and SPL Stanley Schnyder. Randy is on deployment right now, and Stanley gave it all taking Baghdad. They are both, one on earth and one in heaven, in the palm of our Savior’s Hand. No matter what, they are remembered. For us, as Christians, whether in deployment or in death, there is no Goodbye, only See You Later. And as both of our brothers have taught us, Goodbye isn’t in the Christian Family’s dictionary. If it’s in yours, please see me afterward, and I’ll gladly show you how you can become part of the Family and get rid of your goodbye. God Bless you for being here and God Bless America.”
I could never be that bold. I was almost afraid Becca would get in trouble for witnessing at a public event like that, but no one said a word to her about it, other than to ask her how to get rid of their goodbye. She led five people to Christ that day. I got three.
That evening, we stayed around and helped clean the stadium, the town volunteers insisting Military and Gold Stars shouldn’t have to, but we insisted on helping. After all, the fallen belong to us too.
As we were finishing, I picked up Stanley’s violin and started to leave, but suddenly, tears rushed to my eyes. I couldn’t see Becca and not wanting to cry in front of a dozen Soldiers, Marines, and strangers. So I ducked into the nearest private place…the bleachers.
By myself in the shadows, I allowed myself to miss Stanley, hugging his violin to my chest and sobbing, trying to shove away the memories of the day I got the news.
After a few moments, I heard Becca and Salem calling for me, and I wiped my face, my moment over, but it was time for it to be over. There was a time for mourning and a time for laughter. And Stanley would want me to choose the latter. Smiling, I called out to my friends, and we walked together to the vehicles.
That Friday started horribly. Becca came flying into the house, dictionary in her arms and tears pouring down her face. I grabbed her and shook her. “Becca! What’s wrong?”
“Something’s happening! I was on the phone with Randy, and then somebody yelled, and he said, ‘I love you!’ and the line cut! Something wrong, Chrissy!”
She burst into tears and clung to me, and we both ended up in the kitchen floor, bawling like toddlers and not caring, praying without ceasing that God would please shield Randy.
I stayed with her all day. We eventually went over to their base house and hunkered down, waiting for the call with eager trepidation. Salem drove up from Cherry Point, two hours away, to be with his family, and we all sat in the living room, waiting and praying.
Jason shattered the silence with a straightforward question. “If God…” he cleared his throat. “If God chooses to…take Randy away…will we still love Him?”
Silence hung in the room. Becca shuddered and rested her head against my shoulder, tears seeping into my shirt. Salem ran his hands through his non-existent hair, and Mrs. Springfield closed her eyes. Mr. Springfield paused in his pacing.
I glared at the DVD case propped on the bookshelf.
All heads turned towards Becca. “Because it’s not the end. God promised we will be together again. I won’t understand why. But I’ll still love Him.”
Salem nodded, his eyes red-rimmed, but as of yet, he was a genuine, stone-faced Marine. Mrs. Springfield sighed. “Yes, I’ll still love Him.”
“As hard as that would be…yes,” Mr. Springfield said.
The phone rang, but no one moved to answer it, staring at it in horror.
So I answered it.
“…Oh! Uh, hello, Miss Christina. Good to hear from you. Is Becca there?”
I squealed and nearly dropped the phone, and I know I’d left his ears ringing. “Becca! Take it! It’s him!”
Becca jumped to her feet, snatching the cordless from me. And with a voice as controlled as if she hadn’t been crying all day, she said, “Randy, don’t you ever scare me like that again! What’s the big idea?!”
I laughed so hard and hugged Mrs. Springfield and Mr. Springfield so hard. We thanked God and cried while Salem called their other son, Timothy, at the Air Force Academy and let him know Randy was all right. It was a beautiful evening.
And we ended it with that movie.
Before I left, Becca grabbed my hand and said, “Thank God, I didn’t have to say that final See You Later. Not yet.”
I hugged her tight as she cried with relief. “Not yet. It’s not time yet. But aren’t you so glad Goodbye isn’t in the dictionary?”
She nodded and wiped her eyes. “I’m gonna read that page all night…and all the letters. I’m just so grateful.”
“Me too, Becca.” I winked. “See You Later!”
Salem insisted I come with them to pick Randy up since I had been with them for the whole deployment. I agreed, then realized that he had motives, and I might have elbowed him in the ribs.
Randy ran up to his family, hugging his mom so tight he picked her up. She kissed his cheek; her baby was safe and sound. Becca wedged her way past her brothers to get to him next, and that’s when I saw a couple tears shining in his eyes.
He greeted his brothers, and then he looked at me. He thanked me for being there for Becca. Before I could speak, another Ranger walked up and slapped him on the shoulder. “Later, Boots.”
He grinned, “Later, Pickles.”
I stared at him. Tears rushed to my eyes. “Boots,” I whispered. Randy turned and looked at me. I’d have to show him that letter. He needed to see it.
Two Years Later…
Uncle Abel came to my wedding. And he was smiling. Becca was my maid of honor, and Mr. Springfield was Randy’s best man. Salem said he should have been the best man since he fell in love with me as a sister before Randy said anything. But Randy insisted he had fallen for me at first sight.
All I care about is that my soldier made it home. He’s deploying in about three months, but we’re okay. We have each other for now. And we will never say goodbye. Because they are not in the dictionary…neither are good cheer or Good Conduct Medal because Randy covered them up to get his See You Later Note in there…
“HEY, LIEBLING, YOU TOLD ME, IT’S NOT HERE. WHY ARE YOU LOOKING? WE ONLY HAVE ‘SEE YOU LATERS.’ BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL SEE YOU LATER, HERE OR THERE. ALL MY LOVE, MY DARLING. RANGERS LEAD THE WAY…AND SO DO LITTLE SISTERS…”
 Note to readers. This is a short story that is part of a WIP. Randy, Becca and a brother named Tim are adopted by the Springfields, but allowed to keep their birth name. That’s why she says Bonner and not Springfield.
So what did you think? Do you like the idea of no Goodbye's for Christians? Did this end the way you thought it would? Who was your favorite Character? Let me know in the comments below!
God Bless America and Never Forget the Fallen and their families.
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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