Sarah lay on her back, face up to the ceiling and took a deep breath. She had not felt this pain, this hurt in some time and had no coping mechanism for it. She was a problem solver, she knew it was her best and worst quality, because when presented with a problem she cannot fix, she cries. She had finally after all this time reached her wits end, and as the tears slowly trickled down her face she listened to the song lyrics meld to her soul, “just breathe”. She looked at the picture of her and Matt and felt her stomach muscles clench as a new bout of tears came over her. How long had it been since they had been together she thought? How long had it been since she had felt his hand in hers, or felt his lips against her head? She missed the little things,
much more than anything else.
The song changed but no matter what it was, every song brought her mind back to him “I’ll never tell you that your voice is my favorite sound”. His voice she sighed internally, the way his eyes spoke volumes, she couldn’t help but wonder if she would ever see them again. To date she had kept the positive mind set. With her husband gone overseas at war, she was the envy of the other wives on base because she seemed to have it all together. Her morning runs gave her the energy to get through the day but what people did not realize is that she ran in the morning because she did not sleep at night. She would lay awake at night thinking of him, wanting to have his warm body lying next to hers, and as she thought more about him yet another wave of tears came over her small meek body. She thought of Matt, held on to his memory and let the sweet relief of sleep take her in its arms.
The night before seemed like a blur. The tissues wadded up and lost in her covers was evidence that it had been a long night, but that would not stop her run this morning. If she let this feeling consume her she would lose everything and it wasn’t just about her and her husband any more, it was about Molly and Ryan as well. Upon Matt’s last return they had conceived Molly and quickly upon having their beautiful baby girl, they decided she needed a brother. Sarah remembered when Matt left this time, kissing her pregnant belly, it had been two years and eight months since Molly had been born when he left she had been left to record all of their memories for him. She still remembered screaming for him when she had Ryan, and it ran like a cold wind down her spine. She sent pictures and he had seen his son, but his daughter was forgetting what daddy looked like and would point to him in pictures asking who the man was holding mommy.
She pulled herself out of bed, threw her legs over the side and eased her way up to make as little noise as possible. Her children took after their father in so many ways, including that they were incredibly light sleepers. She dressed for her run, pants, top, socks shoes, iPod band around her arm, and called next door. Jennifer her next door neighbor had no children and was willing to come over to Sarah’s place to help out. It was their system. Sarah watched Jennifer’s house when she was out of town for work, which was months at a time sometimes, and Jennifer would always watch Sarah’s kids while she went for her morning run. The system had worked for them for the past two years and was preferable to waking up sleeping children to load
into a stroller to take on her run. On top of everything else Sarah had wanted to run this run on her own.
Jennifer’s chipper voice met Sarah’s tired head “Morning Sarah!”
“Morning Jen, would you mind coming over this morning?”
“Not at all darlin’, I’ll be over in a minute my breakfast is finishing up.”
“Sounds great, I’ll see you soon.”
The informality of their relationship was comforting but Jennifer was always that happy, excited. For Jennifer being a military wife was what was ideal considering she traveled so much herself. She loved being aunty Jen but never wanted children of her own, to the extent that she had had her tubes tied almost a decade ago. Sarah unlocked the front door and began stretching. Jennifer walked in quietly, smiling at Sarah whispered a quick good morning and then sat at the bar stool in their kitchen. Coffee, breakfast, and morning paper in hand she needed no further entertainment.
Sarah left without a word and began her run. Feeling her shoes on the road made her feel like she was twenty years old again when she was first learning how to be a runner. Pacing her start, monitoring her breathes and the way that her arms moved at her side. She was always intent on having perfect form for her warm up and wondered if she watched video of herself that she would be appalled at how quickly that good form disappeared. She blended in with the other morning runners, living on base had its advantages including that many people both men and women were runners in the morning as well intent on keeping their physical shape in tact.
She made her way onto the path that snaked its way through the park. As she began down her familiar path her mind wandered. She thought of the night before, of Matt, and tried to remind herself of what was important and how lucky she was to have two such gorgeous sweet children. They were healthy and what more could she ask for. She needed to remind herself that she had a good job, she had a great home, and she had a great man that would be coming home in just a few months time. Sarah felt the weight of the world life off of her shoulders and relaxed. She made her way around another turn and realized that there were not as many runners on this part of the path. Typically a realization like this would have put her at ease instead she felt in a sudden wave a cold chill rush down her back and she realized she was no longer running alone. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a shadow running close behind her. She quickened her pace and made her way back to the population of runners.
Walking the last block home she took in her surroundings less casually than she normally would have on any given day. When everything felt more normal she made her way to the front door, pulled her key from the pocket inside of her shoe and unlocked her front door. Jennifer came out of the kitchen smiling holding Ryan and sighed. “Here you go mom, he woke up right after you left. Good run?”
“Of course it was” she replied taking her big blue eyed son from his ‘Aunt Jen’s’ arms, “thanks as always”.
“Anytime, it reminds me why I choose the life I did” winking Jen smiles, and is gone as quickly as she came. After that things went along as usual. Breakfast for everyone, clean clothes clean faces, then play time. Play time was followed by lunch then art time. With Matt leaving again, Sarah and Matt met with a family therapist to discuss how best to handle the transition to a one parent family. Their family therapist had felt that this structure would help them with the every day things. During art time while Sarah was changing Ryan’s diaper the phone began to ring.
“Molly will you bring me the phone please?!”
“Molly please I’m changing brother!”
The silence filled the room, Sarah slowed her motions until Molly appeared in the door way, “Mommy?” Molly was carrying the phone, “He wants to talk to you”. Sarah reached for a sani-wipe and took the phone “Hello?”.
“Mrs. Harris?” a male voice answered, with an air of stiffness indicating to her immediately this was a military phone call. Her head began to spin, as she became light headed and sank back into the rocking chair in her sons room, her mind raced to the worse case scenario, he’s dead. Oh my god what am I going to do, wait, calm thing , a phone call that’s better than a knock on the door, ok, breath, Sarah breath.
“Mrs. Harris this is Colonel Mayborne. A car is going to pick you up on one hour. You need to find some child care”
Sarah was stunned. She had never heard of a thing. Is this a joke? “I’m sorry, what?”
“Ma’am I’m sorry I know there isn’t much time. A car will arrive in one hours time. Thanks to you ma’am.”