Somehow I knew before it happened. Call it a premonition, call it being sensitive, call it what you will. At one time, I called it love – until that day.
The military staff car came scurrying up our gravel driveway. I could see the dust storm it kicked up from a half mile away. I was painting the nursery upstairs – blue and pink.
I hope that you’ll forgive me. I know that you’ll be happy whether we have a boy or a girl. Somehow, I get the feeling it will be a little boy – just like his daddy: tall, handsome, proud, upstanding. I only wish you could be here. I can feel a little kick now and then. It gives me comfort in your absence.
Two men in dark green dress uniforms got out of their staff car. The doorbell rang – three times in rapid succession. The senior gentleman, with all the stars and ribbons, carried a grey envelope and green satchel. God, I didn’t want to open the door. Help me God.
“Are you Rosa? Rosa Marconi?”
“Yes – that’s me.”
“Can...can we come in m’am?” What could I say? I really didn’t want to hear them. I didn’t want them to be here.
“Mrs. Marconi, I regret to inform you that your husband, Emmet, has been killed in action. It seems that...”
“Stop, no! I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you! It’s a mistake. He’s coming home in four months when the baby comes!” I don’t remember saying this. I fell to the floor and rocked myself – like a baby. My head was spinning and their voices were drowned out by my screaming and bawling. God help me!
They continued their statement as if they had rehearsed it before they came.
“Emmet stepped on a land mine while on patrol with Charlie Company on a pre-dawn recon mission. You can rest assured that Emmet’s death was quick and he didn’t suffer unnecessarily. The United States of America is proud of your husband and his team. He showed outstanding courage and fortitude in serving his beloved country.”
The officer held out his hand, helped me up and sat down beside me on the sofa. The other officer opened the green satchel and held something in his hand.
“M’am, Emmet’s sergeant asked us to give this to you. I understand that you made this hanky for him?” I couldn’t believe it. This was the navy blue hanky I knitted for you the day before you were deployed. I squeezed it and rubbed my face into your essence – to breathe every bit of you into my heart. I felt dizzy and sick to my stomach.
Can we get you anything m’am? Glass of water or...” I couldn’t hear them. I didn’t want to hear them. I just wanted, my husband, back.
“No, no. Just go – please. And don’t come back- ever, until you can bring my husband back!
“M’am, we are sorry..”
“Just git! Don’t you understand?” I fell to the floor with your hanky in my hand and bawled again. They let themselves out, started their staff car and spun their tires. They left a haze of dust in their wake, but it was nothing like the haze in my mind and the emptiness in my heart.
That was the worst day of my life. I try to pretend that it never happened; that one sunny day you’ll come home. It’s the only thing that keeps me going, and of course, the baby. I have two weeks to go and I’m so tired. I dream of you holding me in your arms, lying in the tall grass, laughing and telling each other silly nursery rhymes.
Emmet dear, I pray every night that you’ll come into my dreams. How I long to see your smile, hear your laugh and feel your hand in mine. I sleep with your blue hanky beside my pillow. I touch my cheek to it, pretending it’s your strong hands caressing my skin.
Please come see me – just one night. That’s all I ask.
I remember the night you came – at last. Do you know how much joy you brought me? I held your hanky to my face, to inhale you. I caressed the hanky and felt your skin on mine. Your spirit came through the open window, riding on the wind of the thunderstorm. How romantic! How handsome you were in your dark green military parade suit. And that smile, you lit up the room, brighter than the lightning of the storm. Even the baby was kicking with excitement! Daddy’s home!
Oh, the rain is coming in. I must shut the window to keep us warm and keep baby safe. I’ll be right back sweetheart. Keep the bed warm, won’t you? I just have to go upstairs and shut the window. Don’t worry, I won’t trip. I’ll be fine.... Don’t worry about that noise. It was just me but I think baby and I will be fine. We’ll be fine. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine. I think we’ll be...okay. I think baby is just sleeping. I think baby is...
Isn’t it nice, that the three of us, are together?