Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2178660-A-Side-wise-Christmas
by fyn
Rated: E · Short Story · Military · #2178660
An Unexpected Homecoming is STILL a homecoming none-the-less!

December 3rd
In the sandbox

Dear Mom and Dad,
Remember how we used to go to Island Beach State Park and Mom would fuss because of the constant wind and sand getting into our tuna fish sandwiches? Everything crunches here. Seems as if the wind never stops. Yesterday the sky turned orange and a wall of sand blew in. There is no place I don't have sand! I'd be thrilled to see even an inch of all that snow you've got back home!

By now, I expect Dad has all the lights up on the house, the tree decorated and taking up half the living room. Mom, I can almost smell all the cookies i know you've been baking. It helps, you know to remember, imagine and envision home. One thing, when I get home, I never, repeat, never (!) want to hear 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' ever again. Makes me cry inside. I miss you two so much.

We have a little desert pine in the mess hall. Think along the lines of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree only a bit more pathetic! A battery string of lights that's always dying, three candy canes (half-melted and sandy) and a foil star on top. Nothing like our ten-foot trees at home, but better than nothing. We got a box of Christmas cards --the 'To Any Soldier' type. Mine was from a family in Kansas and they put a very sweet note inside along with a picture of their daughter. She looks about the same age as Kelly.

How's she doing, Mom? Bet she's all kinds of excited about Santa and presents. I hope she's being good, but with the Santa threat, I figure she is. I miss her hugs, her stamping her foot when she doesn't get her way and her morning snuggles. Please tell her that the picture she colored for me is out where everyone can see it, and everyone said what a good job she did. They really liked the purple people and the blue grass!

More later, they're calling us for formation...

December 11th

I’m okay. Wasn’t called for formation. The locals decided to have one of their ‘shoot ‘em up’ parties and it was a mess. Think a fireworks display going off all at once, but not up into the sky. This was my first ‘altercation.’ A bit different from gunfire during hunting season, Dad. But you know that. Keep Mom from frazzling as only you can.

Got hit in the leg and took a bullet in my side. I didn’t need my appendix anyway, right. I hurt like hell but am okay. Bad enough I’m off duty, not bad enough to be sent anywhere. Least no one (on our side) was killed.

Can’t wait til I’m mobile again. Hurts too much to use crutches what with my side and all. Lucky for me in was an in and out, straight through. Sarge says I’ve earned my stripes and there will be a Purple Heart coming down the line. Rather get leave. My roomie’s been medevacked out, don’t even know where they sent her. Packed up all her gear though. Hard not knowing.

Your Christmas box arrived intact while I was in the hospital. Keeping it until Christmas Day.

I’ll have to finish this tomorrow. I’m pretty tired and it is time for my pain meds.

December 12th

Leg’s doing much better! Using just the one crutch. Easier on my side. Doing a bunch of walking. My body isn’t used to all this doing nothing. Never thought I’d miss PT! My side is doing okay, the doctors say. Still really hurts, but it has to heal from the inside out and, well, guess it’s going to take some time. Had a fever this morning. They gave me stronger antibiotics.

I know I’m supposed to be super strong and all that, but I am really missing home right now. Mom would be fussing over me and feeding me chicken soup and Kelly would just snuggle in on my good side. I could be lying on the couch directing the ‘present presentation’ for Mom. I can hear me – “Move that gold wrapped gift over near the red striped one, no, the other one. And move that blue package away from the green one. Put it near the silver one.” Just like Mom does. Sides on fire. More pain meds.

December 13th

Writing this from the infirmary. They are talking about surgery. The doctors are going to move me to the hospital in a bit. Guess I’ve got a heck of an infection going. They do that. Guess they soak their bullets in some weird stuff. No honor. Anyway, I’ll be just fine. Putting this in the mail (funny – emails aren’t put ‘in’ the mail, but I still say that…sigh.) else Mom, you’ll be freaking that you haven’t heard from me. I love you both! DON’T WORRY!!!! ~~ Sarah

December 21st

Dear Dad,

This is not how I imagined coming home to see you. Feeling like I’ve let everyone down. I know, I know, I haven’t, but still, feels like that. By now, you know I’m headed stateside. Mom is going to freak, I’m in rough shape, Dad. Look pretty awful. Try to get Mom to chill, okay? She doesn’t need to get all upset. Can’t wait to see you both, but I sure wish it was under better conditions. ~~S

AP NEWS – Three medevac choppers were shot down in the Mid-East today as they were transporting wounded soldiers to where they would be medevacked home. Might be an early Christmas Miracle, because there were no fatalities in the crash landings of the choppers. Better still, all were safely rescued and are now on their way stateside and expected to arrive at Bethesda Naval Hospital on Christmas Eve.--

“This is Jamie Iverson for KBMD News here at Bethesda navel Hospital where the wounded soldiers from the three choppers that were shot down two days ago have recently arrived. All of the soldiers and crew are doing reasonably well as of this moment. One is in surgery, but for nonlife-threatening injuries.

“Joining me is Alex Henderson, father of one of the soldiers originally being transported home. Sir, I understand your daughter, SP4 Sarah Henderson has arrived and that you and your wife have been to see her. How is she doing?”

“She’s doing quite well, all things considered. Her mother is in with her now and has calmed down now that she’s seen Sarah. It’s been a rough few weeks since she was injured during a battle at the base. She’s fighting off an infection she sustained due to the bullets used in the incursion being treated with a bio-enzyme that causes a mass infection. She’s weak, of course, but the doctors are encouraging in their prognosis for a full recovery.”

“Well, I bet she’s happy to be stateside for the holidays.”

“She wants to be home. That can’t happen right now, but everything is staying as is at home until she can be released. We are hoping to have her here for a bit before she returns to duty.”

“And who is this you are holding in your arms?”

“This is Kelly, Sarah’s daughter.”

“Mommy’s in the hopital. She got shot but she’s gonna be okay cuz Mommy’s Wonder Woman!”

“She certainly is, young lady."

“Santa’s coming here and we gots presents for Mommy. Can we go see Mommy again now?” Kelly said as she squirmed in her grandfather’s arms.

“This is a family who is going to have a very Merry Christmas this year! I’m Jamie Iverson and back to you in the studio, Bob.”

Sarah lay in her hospital bed on the 3rd floor of Bethesda Naval Hospital with visiting hour rules being thrown out the window so she could be with her parents and her daughter. Three IVs ran antibacterial, and anti-viral liquids into her combatting the cocktail of germs that entered her body when she’d been shot. Already looking much better, with color in her pale cheeks again, she talked quietly with her daughter.

Alex stood behind his wife who sat on the other side of Sarah’s bed. I’m so glad she’s home, but I don’t know how we can let her go again, when she’s better. She’s already sounding excited about returning to duty. I never knew it could be this hard, he thought.

“Quit worrying, Dad. I know that ‘worried dad’ look. I know people don’t really think about the fact that when someone signs up for the military, that, in a sense, the whole family is signing on. I’m sorry you all had to go through this, but you know how I feel about doing my part.”

“I know, sweetie. We’ll be fine.”

“I’m gonna be miltary like Mommy when I gets big. It’s a portent job, right Mommy?”

“Yes, it is, Kelly.”

“I wish you were home though. Grampa says Santa’s gonna come here AND at home when you get leave. How can you get leave and be here? You won’t leave on leave, will you?”

“No, I’ll get to be home with you for a while, but then I will have to go back to finish my job.”

“Grampa says you have to finish what you start. Right, Grampa?”

Alex nodded.

A nurse knocked on the side of the open door to Sarah’s room. “Thought you folks would like to know that the latest lab reports are showing that the IVs are doing their job too. It’s getting late so I am kicking you all out for the night. I’ll be checking on Sarah regularly, but our brave girl here needs some sleep and you all look as if you do too.”

They said their goodbyes and Sarah’s mom carried Kelly who was half-asleep as she walked down the hall. “I’ll meet you in the lobby, hon. I have one thing I need to do tonight before we leave.”

“Going to stop in at the chapel, Dad?” asked Sarah sleepily.

“You bet, darlin’. I need to say ‘thank you’ for the best Christmas present a dad could get.”

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