Hello! Long time no see! I'm sorry about the delay in posts, but this past month has been crazy busy with church and school finals! (My husband is a teacher and I helped with the pre-edits on student papers!) My health is finally improving (vitamin deficiencies can through you for a loop!), so hopefully, I'm back on track now!
I'm excited to bring you episode two of GID! (If you are new, read part one here!) Today, we're picking up where we left off, so let's jump back in!
The following morning the bell rang, and Becca entered, her wallet tucked under her arm, and a book clutched in her hands. She made a bee-line for the counter.
“Hey…can we talk?”
I nodded, knowing this was gonna be hard. “I have an hour left. But if it can’t wait—”
“It can. Cause I don’t want to rush.”
“Okay, here, take this to the corner booth and wait for me,” I said, sliding a lemonade across the counter. She took it and retreated, opening the book and settling in.
At last, the hour was up, and I came to her booth. “I know a better place for us to talk, come on.”
Moments later, we were sitting at the pier out back. “This is where he brought me last night…”
I winced. “Okay, so I blew that one…”
“No, this is fine.” Becca took a deep breath. “Randy told me you were the one who told him how to tell me.”
“It’s…what my brother did for me…before he left.”
She held the dictionary out towards me. “I don’t know what your brother did, but I wanted you to see what mine did.”
I smiled, touched that she wanted to share something so special with a stranger. I flipped to the page where “Goodbye” should have been. And I pressed my hand to my mouth to keep from audibly crying.
In neat capital letters—such an Army thing—he had written and glued over the entry:
“I TOLD YOU, 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, SIS. RANGERS LEAD THE WAY.”
“This,” I said, “is true big brother love.”
“He never would have thought to do it if not for you. I…thank you for giving him the idea. I will cherish this for the rest of my life.”
I hugged her, and she cried on my shoulder. I’m not a heavy make-up kind of girl, but what little mascara I had on was running all over the place.
When we pulled back, I gripped her shoulders. “When can you come back? I’ll show you what my brother did for me.”
“You don’t have to share it. I know it must be special to you.”
“I…want to. Really. Please?”
“I’ll be here Friday.”
“Meet me here at 3:00, okay?”
“I’ll be here.”
She met me there on the pier on Friday, and I handed her a to-go cup of lemonade. I pulled out the book that I had kept beside my Bible ever since I had gotten it. I gave it to her and waited.
She turned to that page. Like her brother, mine had covered the entry.
“GOODBYES AREN'T FOR US. WE DON’T NEED THEM. BECAUSE NOTHING WILL EVER TAKE AWAY OUR HOME IN ETERNITY. CHRISSY, GOODBYE ISNT IN THE DICTIONARY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY. ALL MY LOVE UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, SEE YOU LATER.”
Big brother love.
Randy deployed the three weeks later. I was there with his family at Becca’s request. I gave them space, letting them say their ‘see you laters.’ He shook my hand before he headed for the plane. “See you later, Miss Christina.”
“See you later, Ranger.”
Becca came to see me every week. We’d drink Lemonade and talk about our brothers, and I was able to heal a little on the inside, sharing about how amazing Stanley was. And I learned what happened to her other brother, the one they almost lost. He had been a prisoner of war at the beginning of the war in Iraq. Celebrated his eighteenth birthday sick from an infected Camel bite. And Randy had been able to bring him home.
She brought letters that Randy had written home, sharing portions and allowing me to lose myself in the Army life I missed so much, all the acronyms and little jokes that are only funny to Army people. I brought some of Stanley’s letters, and we both laughed too hard at the pranks he played with his two buddies, Boots and Pickles. He never did tell me their real names, and I never got to meet them. They came to the funeral, but we were all too much of a wreck to talk. I can’t even remember what they looked like.
We cried over the honesty of our brothers. Both shared that at times, they were scared and didn’t really want to admit it to any of the guys. But then they apologized for telling us. Neither of us had minded.
Stanley wrote home, a few weeks before he died, “I’ve always respected Boots, but today, he made me respect him more. Risked his life to bring back Jerkface, the guy I told you about that pesters the snot out of everyone, especially Boots. Jerkface got hurt up really bad, and Boots nearly got himself killed going after him. J got EVACed, and Boots is going tomorrow. I’m sitting with him, watching him sleep, and…he just looks like a kid… I can easily see him as the kind that would call for his mom, then feel bad for wishing her there to see him like this. But I wish she was here. He’s too protective of us to realize it, but he needs somebody looking after him too. Big puppy if you ask me. Hey, if you ever decide soldiers aren’t that bad…😉 seriously, though, he’s a great guy.”
I rolled my eyes. “He was always trying to find me a husband. He so wanted me to marry one of his guys.”
Becca smiled and squeezed my hand. “Obviously, that’s up to God, but Boots doesn’t sound like a bad guy…I mean, he’s the one who asked if the others would like to do Bible study together, right?”
“Yes, that’s him. Who knows. I hope God does give him a good one. He sounds like he needs a protective wife.”
“Well, God will get her for him.”
We finished our lemonade and chatted a little longer, then I hurried back to work. I was trying to concentrate, but all I could think about was Memorial Day coming up. Me and my younger brother Hudson were supposed to go to the parade this year and drive Stanley’s truck…that was gonna be hard.
Uncle Abel smiled as I refilled the lemonade tank. “We’ll be closing up a little early this evening. So, we’ll see you bright and early Monday?”
I turned to him in surprise. Why it shocked me that he would have the café open on a holiday, I don’t know…but to expect me to be there? To miss Stanley’s parade? “I…I can’t come.”
He frowned. “We have inventory. Everyone will have to be here for us to finish on time.”
“Then let me do my part this evening. Please, I have to have Monday off!”
Uncle Abel frowned. “Is this about that parade?”
I swallowed back a look of defiance. “Yes. I’m going for Stanley.”
I could have kept it together. I could have breathed through it.
But he rolled his eyes and frowned.
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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