~ Chapter Five ~
We were all sitting around the fire place, cocoa mugs in hand, when it started. There were home videos of me and my dad from when I was about ten years old playing quietly on the TV, as part of welcoming him home. Luke was telling us all about the first time he met my dad when we heard the loud knock on the door. My eyes widened in excitement as I turned to Luke and grabbed his hands.
“Is this finally happening!?” I squeal as we both stand up. Luke grins widely in response and we walk briskly to the door. Grabbing the doorknob, I prepare myself to see a face I haven’t seen in months. I can’t believe I will finally get to talk to him again, I can’t believe that’s only a turn of a doorknob away.
Maybe that’s because it wasn’t.
I open the door to meet a man dressed in full military apparel, but he isn’t my father. My insides do flips as my breath catches.
“Faith?” The man asks. Before he spoke, I did not recognize him. But the way he addresses me, without saying my last name, immediately shows me who he is.
I grin a little in surprise as I answer, “Commander David?” Commander David is my fathers main commander, the one who lets him send me letters from time to time. He’s been a family friend for so long, I can’t believe I didn’t recognize him right away.
“Come on Faith, you know you can just call me David.” He smiles a little, but quickly lets his face drop back straight before speaking again. “The um… Your dad..” He trails off and suddenly I begin to realize what’s going on.
“Is he okay?” I say a silent prayer to myself that David is only here to tell me that my father’s flight is delayed again, or that he has to stay in Afghanistan for a few more days.
“I… Your fathers plane left this morning,” my hopes raise for a moment before plummeting back down again at his next words. “But, there… There was an attack.”
“No.” I whimper, pulling Luke closer to me. I grip onto his arm tightly as he pulls me into a secure hug, like he’s trying to protect me from the words I’m hearing.
“His plane was shot down by an enemy fighter plane… I’m so sorry Faith but, but your father has died.” His voice breaks at the end of the sentence as does my heart. I’d imagined loosing him so many times but I never thought it would really happen for real. He’s gone. He’s gone for good this time, he’s never coming back. My tears begin to flow like a waterfall from my eyes into Luke’s shoulder, and I can tell that he wants to cry too.
“Faith?” David asks, making me look up. I can see a few lone tears roll down his cheek, his eyes cloudy. It takes me by surprise at first, but I guess my father was one of his closest friends and it must be hard for him too. “I also have something for you… It’s, it’s from him.” My insides do their flipping thing again. I nod in response and follow him to the back of his truck, hand in hand with Luke. David deliberately opens the back hatch, and motions me closer to him so I can see what it is.
“He told me that if anything ever happened to him, he wanted me to make sure you got her back.” I peer into the back of his truck and let out a sob of happiness among the sorrow.
“Scout?” I cry. Upon hearing her name, Scout jumps out of the vehicle and onto me. She covers my face in nasty wet kisses, but I don’t care. Tears come to my eyes even quicker than I thought possible as I hug my dog. She’s the only thing I have left of my father now, the only living thing that still ties me to him. Luke kneels down next to me and pets Scout on the head. He grabs my hand with his free one and gives it a squeeze, which I know is his way of telling me that he’s there for me. I squeeze back hoping he understands that I’m grateful for him, grateful beyond words.
“There’s also this.” David says, handing me a bulging manila envelope with my name on the front. I stand up to take it from him and let a sob, that I’d been trying so hard to hold in, escape from my lips. “I should be on my way now.” He tips his hat to me and climbs back in the truck. Just as he’s about to pull out, he looks back out the window to me. “Just know that you can come talk to me about anything, anytime, alright?”
“Of course.” I reply with as much of a smile as I can manage and with that, he pulls away. Once David’s vehicle has disappeared from my sight, I let all my emotions loose. The tear ducts in my eyes release, the sobs in my throat cry out, the breath in my lungs catch, the strings of my heart break. Everything around me blurs as my tears cloud my vision like a vapor in the air. I let my body collapse into Luke’s arms and I cry like I have never cried before. Every emotion I have ever felt spills out of me like a boiling pot of water. Every thought I’ve ever had about my dad comes into my mind and makes me cry harder. And harder and harder, until I’m not sure if I have any tears left, yet they just keep coming.
I don’t know how long after I started crying that Luke scooped me up into his arms and carried me into the house, but I know he did. I don’t know when it started snowing, but I know it did. I don’t know who let Scout inside, but I know someone did. It seems that I don’t know a lot of things right now, but the one thing that I don’t think I’ll ever know is this:
I don’t know why my dad had to die, but I know he did.
Luke had carried me into the living room, where he set me down on my feet and kissed me gently. I wasn’t in the mood for a kiss so I didn’t kiss him back, but I didn’t pull away either. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate his effort at cheering me up, but there’s honestly nothing that could make me happy right now. Especially when I can see the home videos of me and my dad playing, making my tears drip more.
“Luke.” I groan almost silently.
“I know things are rough babe,” he answers just as quietly, "I know this is hard and I know that I will probably never understand what you are going through but I just want you to know that your not alone okay? No matter how alone you feel I’m always here for you, always. You can look to me for anything, anything at all. I will never leave your side, and I will help you through this. I don’t care how hard it is, I will. I love you.” His words melt my heart with kindness and I let out even more sobs.
“I love you too.” I sigh. I lift my head and put it on his chest, looking up into his eyes before uttering the words, "Hold me closer Luke, you’re all I have left.”
– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –– - – - – - –
~ “Hold Me Closer Luke, you’re all I have left.” ~