Tara and Charlotte remained in the lobby struggling with the reality of Tom’s condition. Doctors refused to provide a glimpse into the Tom’s future; rather, the diagnosis was limited to the present. That concerned Tara. She sat doubled over, resting her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands.
“He should be relaxing on a cruise, not recovering from brain surgery.” Tara blurted. “What was he doing in Pennsylvania?”
“He must have taken an earlier flight home to surprise you.”
“That doesn’t explain why he flew into Pennsylvania?”
Charlotte shrugged. “Maybe he couldn’t get a flight into New York.”
Tara considered this scenario. Surprising her with an earlier flight home would explain his evasive behavior each time the subject arose. However, she had a difficult time believing he couldn’t get a flight into New York. He was aware of the cruise dates for at least three months. It wasn’t like him to procrastinate. Then it dawned on her…the plane fare to Pennsylvania may have been cheaper. Either that or he hopped onto a military flight.
Guilt swept through her chest as she recalled all of the angry thoughts that ran through her mind over the past eighteen hours. While she focused on a stupid vacation, her husband fought for his life.
“I wish I could get out of this dress. I hate it.”
“It’s a pretty dress,” Charlotte said in a flat tone. “It looks pretty on you.”
Tara smoothed the flowing skirt. “I bought it for Tom,” she confessed. “My hair, the dress, these painful shoes are all for him. I wanted to look my best when he arrived.”
“You didn’t need a new fancy dress to impress him. He would have been awestruck no matter what you wore.”
Earlier in our marriage, that was true, Tara thought. Tom’s eyes used to reflect his love for her. Then something changed. She wasn’t sure if the twenty extra pounds of fat she wore around her midsection turned him off, or if he resented her for leaving Texas while he was in Iraq.
Had she known her departure would cost their military housing, she may have stuck it out down there raising their daughter alone. She didn’t know much about caring for a newborn. While the other military wives were helpful, they were busy with their own families. No one had time to care for Lilly while Tara remained in bed holding a pity party. Besides, Lilly cried all of the time. There were times Tara didn’t want to be around her daughter, how could she expect anyone else to hang around? One visit from Margie convinced Tara that she could not manage without her mother. The next time Tom called from Iraq, she told him she planned to relocate to New York until his overseas tour ended. He sympathized and supported her decision, until he learned it would take at least a year to reinstate their military housing.
Tara shook herself back to the present and leaped from her seat. “Yes?” She responded, expecting to see a doctor standing in front of her. Instead, looking down at her was a tall,...