Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Soldier’s Girl Always Puts On A Smile

Summer was over and the harsh reality of the Army was gaining on us fast. My parents reminded me over and over again that I was not to cry. I had to be brave and happy for him. “You don’t want him to remember the last time he saw you, you were crying. You want him to think of your pretty smiling face. You have such a pretty face.” The night before he left he met me at my house. Apparently, I had done something my parents were not pleased about and I was grounded. Grounded for the last night Ronnie would be here! It was SO not fair! Ok,they didn't know about the Cozy. They wanted to make sure we were not married the night before he went off to the Army. Everyone, especially my parents, knew how crazy we were about each other.

Ronnie came over for dinner. My family knew this was a special dinner for Ronnie and I so the first floor of the house was off limits to everyone but us. Yes, I was going to impress him with my cooking skills. I cooked steak, corn, mashed potatoes and biscuits. I made sure he did not see the mashed potatoes as I put far too much butter in them and it turned into a sort of weird looking soupy thing. The biscuits I forgot were in the oven until Ronnie asked “Is something on fire?” Ok, so my cooking wasn’t impressive but he enjoyed it all the same. He was such a good sport.

After dinner we sat in the living room talking and holding hands. Eventually I turned on the stereo and placed a small 45 record on the turn table…Madonna - Crazy For You. This is the song Ronnie picked out as “Our Song” just after we started dating. One night after picking me up from work he said we needed a song. I cannot remember what song I had picked out but really, I hadn’t thought about it as much as he had. Ronnie knew exactly what song should be “our song.” He thought about the night we met every time he heard ‘Crazy For You.’ It was perfect.

Since it was his last night I wanted to have one last slow dance with him. Halfway through the song he broke down in tears. I didn’t want to make him cry. I wanted him to have a happy memory of us dancing together to “our song”. We held each other on the couch for awhile then he said he had to go. I convinced my Dad that while Mom was out it would be ok if Ronnie and I went out for half an hour. “Okay, but you better be back here before your Mom gets home or we will both be in trouble.”

Ronnie was relieved that we would have some time alone together but not sure if it was really a good idea. I think my parents were secretly afraid we would run off to a Justice of the Peace and elope. Maybe that was why they changed my curfew. We did think about it once at the end of a date. Ronnie said he didn’t want leave me just yet. He couldn’t wait until we were married. Then we wouldn’t have to say good bye at the end of each night. The more we thought about it the more we were convinced those country road side Justice of the Peace must have been made up for movies. We couldn’t find one, not a one.

Since my Dad agreed to let us have 30 minutes together we went to a party behind the billboards where Ronnie’s friends were waiting for him. No matter who offered me a drink Ronnie was quick to shoo them away. Half an hour later, Ronnie had me home and was kissing me good night. He said “I will be kissing you good morning soon.” I blushed from head to toe! I knew he meant that he would be back in the morning but still, oh my! The way he said it.

Ronnie agreed to let me go with him to the recruiters office where the Army van would pick him up. I promised to be good and cheerful so he wouldn’t cry. I smiled, hugged him and kissed him several times then I smiled and waved as the green van drove away.

I went back home, back to bed and cried myself to sleep. Over the next few months crying myself to sleep became a habit. I tried to be upbeat and cheerful but there were so many places, things, songs and many little things that made me think of Ronnie and how my heart ached for him. My friends were growing tired of my mournful behavior and exhausted from trying to cheer me up. I could manage a smile now and then but it never lasted.

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