Monday, November 11, 2013

The Burden of Sorrow



"Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time...
It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other."
~~Leo F. Buscaglia~~

Note: The following is based on a true story.
This happened to my husband's family
while he was at war.



The doorbell rang.
She wasn’t expecting anyone. “Bob,” she called. “Will you get that?” She raised her foot off the sewing machine pedal and listened for his answer.
“Bob?”
“I’m going,” he said, and she heard the rustle of his newspaper, his feet shuffling toward the door. I should have gone, myself, she thought. His arthritis is so bad.
The front door opened and she heard low voices—something about the tone of Bob’s causing her to rise, blood thundering in her ears. Something was wrong. She hurried out of her sewing room and down the hall, passing Jeff’s pictures, touching them gently as she hurried by, a habit she’d developed since he left for Iraq
The images blurred as she passed them: Jeff in kindergarten; his first pony ride; receiving his Eagle Scout pin; high school graduation; boot camp; Baghdad. She hesitated, the memory of their parting so vivid. She'd cried, something Jeff had seldom seen her do, clutching at him, so afraid to let him go. He'd been the parent then, patting her, reassuring her when reassurance was futile. "I'll be fine, Mama. Don't worry about me." He'd grinned, actually grinned. "Well, don't worry too much, OK?" 
She turned into the living room. Bob stood in the open doorway, talking to someone outside, his big body blocking her view of the people on the doorstep. His voice was low, unintelligible, but the urgency was unmistakable.
“Bob?”
He twisted, his face blanched, lips colorless. “Marlys…” He reached for her, went to her, and over his shoulder she saw their visitors.
Two men in dress United States Army uniforms stood on the porch. She was struck by their pristine appearance, their somber mien. One of them was a sergeant and he held a manila folder under the crook of his right arm, his hand folded around its edge. Recoiling, she knew what was in there, and it began, ‘The President of the United States regrets to inform you…’
“No,” she said, as Bob lowered her onto the couch. “No!” she shouted to the men standing on the porch, twisting to snarl at them as they waited there in the sun.
Bob sat next to her, wrapping her in his embrace, throwing a leg across her, pinning her on the couch as she struggled to get free, the madness of denial overtaking her. “It’s all right, Marlys. It’s all right.” He held her, rocked her, and at last penetrated her sobbing, his words finally making sense. “They’re lost. They’re looking for a different address. It’s not Jeff. It’s not Jeff.”
“We—we’re sorry, folks,” one of the soldiers stammered.
And in lockstep the two men marched away, carrying their burden of sorrow, following the directions Bob had provided.

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