The last time her home felt so large and lonely was after Bobby died. During the week after his death the house had been filled with concerned and grieving friends and relatives. Then one morning, Cassidy awoke to realize that the place was empty. Everyone had returned to their own homes and resumed their own lives, leaving Cassidy to deal with the aftermath. For days, she wandered around the house, crying and feeling sorry for herself. Now, as she walked through the door, those same feelings of sadness and dread flooded over her.
To make matters worse, the airline had lost her luggage. Two hours of arguing with the baggage claim supervisors resulted in speculation that her baggage had accidentally been routed to Denver. Dallas/Denver, they both started with the letter D so she could see where that simple mistake could have been made. Idiots! Thank God she'd put Chase's shirt in her carry-on bag. Leaving with only a promise of the luggage being delivered to her home when it was located, Cassidy made the nearly three-hour drive back to Killeen and her empty house.
She dropped her keys on the foyer table and bent to pick up the slew of mail covering the hardwood floor. Thumbing through the stack, she discovered a letter from Bobby's mother. Cassidy glanced over at the quilt Bobby's mother made for their first anniversary resting on the back of the sofa.
She tossed the rest of the mail on the table, picked up her bag and went to her bedroom. After changing into a pair of cotton shorts, Cassidy donned Chase's shirt and headed back downstairs with the letter still in hand.
Pictures of her and Bobby hung on the wall, reminding her of happier times. She set the letter on the coffee table and went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of hot tea. Bobby's favorite mug, with the words "Support our Troops--Do a Soldier" scrawled on the side, rested in the dish drainer. Maybe it was time to move away from the memories and start fresh.
Cassidy curled up on the couch with her mug, picked up the letter and ripped open the envelope.
I'm so sorry we missed you at Easter this year, but I understand your need to be with your own family. Thank you for the beautiful flower basket you sent. I plan on planting the bulbs around Robert's grave.
Since we haven't seen you since Christmas, Dad and I would love for you to take a week this summer and visit. I know it's been a difficult year for you. It has been for us too, but we're dealing with the pain and learning to move on. We can only hope that you eventually will too. Just know that no matter whom you meet or what happens in the future, you'll always be a part of our life.
I know you're busy, but I'd love to hear from you, so please give me a call when you get a chance.
Cassidy drew in a deep breath and set the letter back on the table. Seeing his parents at Christmas had been so painful that she'd made a point to avoid them ever since. It was wrong and she'd have to try to make things right. Maybe spending a couple of days with them and facing her pain was what she needed to move on. After all, hiding inside the house only kept her rooted in the past, perpetuating her suffering.
Her focus wandered to the wedding picture sitting proudly on the top shelf of the entertainment center. A new wave of guilt washed over her. She slipped from the couch, pulled the picture down and returned to her seat. Running her fingers over Bobby's image, she remembered that day with such clarity. With sable hair and chocolate eyes, he'd been so handsome in his black tuxedo, the definition of tall, dark and handsome.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, choking back the lump in her throat. Tears flooded her eyes and scurried down her face. "I know I promised I'd wait for you, but you made a promise too. You promised me you'd come home safe. I've kept my part of the deal for as long as I can."
Tears dripped off her cheeks onto the glass, blurring his image. "I love you and I'll always love you, but I can't do this anymore." She set the picture on the floor, snuggled against the throw pillow and pulled the quilt off the back of the couch. "I want more."