“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” - Joshua J. Marine
“Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason that it will.”
Dont be afraid to stand for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone.
"If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable - each segment distinct."
- Letty Cottin Pogrebin
It was a cold winter’s day as the church bells struck noon. I hated this place and yet I loved it. I walked down the grassy hills as Jill walked slowly beside me. The wind blew in our hair, Jill had the same blonde hair as her father and my green eyes. We walked through the bushes and passed a few other families who had been standing around this morbid field. Jill holding my hand tugged at my arm to get my attention, I turned and stared into her huge green eyes. “Yes dear” I said.
“Tell me it again” She replied softly.
“Tell you what?”
“The story… The one about you and Dad, the way you always tell it”
“Alright then” I sighed, I had told her this story so many times in her seven years on this Earth and she never grew tired of it. I never would either, after all it was my life. I’d never forget it, It’s one of those memories you just can’t forget…
I was seven when I first met your father, David McDuff his name was and he was in my class in primary school. We never got on though, he would tease me and I would usually cry and run away but I remember after every day of school when all the other boys were gone, he would find me.
“I’m sorry” David said
“Why would you say those things?” I would ask him
“I dunno, the other boys are really rough and I want them to be my friend so they don’t take my sweets like they do to Matty” David replied, he always hung around with kids far older than him because he believed that he’d get bullied if he didn’t. David was never a bad guy, he just fell in with the wrong crowd. “Can I… Can I walk you home?” he asked
“Why would I want you to walk me home?”
“Well, my mum gave me a bit of extra pocket money and I thought we could share it… I am sorry”
“Ok then but can you promise me something?”
“Please don’t call me names again” I said as David began to look nervous and worried as I said it, he was thinking about what the boys might do him if he didn’t bully me but all of a sudden, he put on his bravest face and said “I promise”. He still did though but stopped completely a week later and apologized again and made the same promise but that time he kept it. We went to the park after the shop and I didn’t go home until nine o’clock that night. I got grounded for a week but it was worth it. I’d never had so much fun. When we left primary school a few years later we went to two different high schools and he moved house so we didn’t see each other anymore.
I was sixteen when I next saw him, I was at a local disco with my best friend Louise and her boyfriend Seamus, she’d been trying to hook me up with guys for months but I wasn’t interested. It just didn’t appeal to me, dating. I liked being on my own, I had no one to please but myself. At the disco, Louise had picked out a new guy for me to talk to and I again wasn’t interested, but we danced most of the night. Later in the night I had begun to feel sick and went outside to sit down. The boy came with me, I knew his name was David but I never connected the dots after all what where the chances. We talked for hours and I shared things with him I hadn’t told anyone, I’d learnt how his father had died serving the military and how he wanted to join the army in memory of his Dad. Eventually we decided to trade numbers, I gave him my phone to type in his details and I would text him later in the morning, he handed my phone back, I put it in my bag and when I looked up at him.
I had my first kiss.
He left soon after and I remember squealing with excitement and looking down at my phone to see if he really put in his number and I read his name aloud. “David McDuff”
We began seeing each other and got married three years later. It was the happiest day of our lives and I knew it would be the start of a wonderful life together. A year later, David enlisted in the military, I was pregnant with you at the time but his heart was set on going. “Can’t it wait until after the baby’s born?” I asked
“Alice, I have to do this”
“Just wait another year, even just a few months…” I begged
“Alice, you know me… when I see that baby girl being born, I’ll never be able to leave. This is my last chance, One year of service… I promised my father before he died, I would serve for at least a year.”
“You don’t have to go”
“I do, Alice. I’m sorry if you can’t accept it but I do”
“Your father’s dead!” I shouted “In a few months, you’ll have new responsibilities”
“I’m sorry Alice”
“What if you don’t come back? What if you die out there and I’m left here alone?”
“—No David, what happens then?”
“I promise you, I’ll come back. I’ll always love you and when I get back we’ll raise this child as our own and give her the life she deserves but for now. This is what I have to do”
A few weeks later he left to go to war. We embraced as I watched him get on the boat and sail away, I knew that this would be the last time I would hear him, see him and touch him for a year.
Months passed and life went on, you were born four months later. You were a bundle of joy. You brought light in my darkest hour and a smile on my face in the saddest of times. Your father sent letters to us constantly and all we would talk about is you. He loved you so much and talked of how he couldn’t wait to see you and meet you and just hold you in his arms.
Jill sat the flowers on the ground and wiped away a tear as they stood on that cold grassy mound, staring at the tombstone. “Unfortunately… he never did” I said as Jill stroked the tomb stone that read “Here lies David McDuff, beloved son, father, husband, soldier”.
There was a knock on the door and when I answered it, I saw them. The uniformed men holding a box that was covered in a flag. As soon as I opened the door you had started crying, as if you already knew. I used to read you his letters before they stopped coming and when we found out he had been killed in action, I would read his letters to you which would always end with Don’t forget I always love you, Love from Daddy, Forever yours.
Jill and I held hands as we stood in front of the grave, fresh flowers lay before it, their sweet scent couldn’t heal the pain. “I love you Daddy, forever and always” Jill said.
I’ll always love you Alice, no matter where I am, no matter where I go. I will always think of one thing, you. No matter where life takes me I will always have one thing, my love for you. I promise you I’ll come home and we’ll raise Jill together, only a few months left. Til we can all be a family.
Memories are sweet, cherish it.
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