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In the Crosshairs of a Mother's Eye

By Rebecca Crawford

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Copyright 2003 Rebecca Crawford




     Liz agreed to fly home for a week.  Mrs. Letch was kind enough to make her reservations and contact her family, as Liz was still unable to talk about it.

     Mrs. Letch drove her to the airport.  “Would you like me to come in with you?”

     “No, I’ll be fine.”

     Mrs. Letch hugged Liz good bye. “I hope you can find some solitude in all of this.”

     “Me, too, Mrs. Letch.”

     Liz got out of the car, heading toward the check-in desk with her bags in hand.  She boarded the plane one hour later.  She had a window seat, where she spent her time looking out at the sky.

     When she arrived in Helena, Robin and Lee were there to pick her up.  Robin ran over giving her an intense hug.  Robin looking into Liz’s eyes, and knew nothing she said would fill the vacant loss she was going through.

     “Liz we missed you so much!”

     “I’ve missed all of you too.”

     Lee walked over taking Liz’s bags.  “Let me get these for you.”

     Liz tried to be cheerful.  “You won’t hear me complain.”

     They left the airport; loading up in the car and heading for Lee and Robin’s house.

“Liz, Lee and I were hoping you would stay with us, but if you want to stay at your grandparent’s house we’ll understand.”

     “I would rather stay with you two.  I’ll go to Grandma’s later, maybe tomorrow.”

     Liz just wanted to avoid sympathy right now, she didn’t want it.  The sympathy should be for Calvin, not her.

     That evening Lee built a fire in the fire place; getting out a bottle of wine.  Liz gave no objection to having a few glasses.  It freed her mind making it easier to speak about Calvin.  “Calvin was a good man.  I wish the two of you could have met him.”

     Lee’s heart broke for Liz.  “I’m sure I would have liked him very much.  We both hate that this has happened for you Liz.”

     Robin walked over sitting next to Liz.  “I know there is nothing we can say to make this better for you Liz, but we’re always here for you.  You’re like part of our family.”

     Liz started crying again.  “At least I have his child.  He meant the world to me Robin.  I don’t think there will ever be anyone who could take his place.”

     “No one can take the place of another person.”

     “You know they said that Calvin was shot then burned to ash in a furnace, but they still have no confirmed reports other then what the rebels said they did.  Now tell me how you can get a confirmed report of someone’s death if there’s no body left to prove or disapprove it.”

     “Sounds like military crap to me, Liz.  Nothing is ever made clear with them.”

     Liz’s tears fell.  “I can’t put him to rest with files reading unknown.”

     “Liz, all you can do now is think about yourself and the baby.  Your hands are tied until confirmation is made by the government.”

     “I know, but it’s so crazy.”

     Robin hugged Liz trying to sooth her.  It made her wonder if she would have the strength that Liz was showing if something were to prematurely happen to Lee.  “Go for walks tomorrow, Liz, where we use to play.  Even a walk along the river might bring some peace into your heart.  I know that your feelings won’t change over night, but please try and find some kind of serenity with this.”

     “I think a walk would be good.  I need time alone right now.  It’s just so hard, Robin.”

     “I can only imagine how hard it is, but we’re here for you anytime you need to talk about it.”

     Lee gave Liz a comforting smile.  “You have the heart of a lion, Liz.”

     “I don’t feel like it right now.”

     “Maybe not now, but you do, I know this.”

     Liz smiled up at Lee.  “I love you both so much.”

       Liz moved over by the fire, looking into its flickering flames and remembering back on the good times she had shared with Calvin and the love that had grown between them.  In a soft voice she said to herself, ‘It’s better to have been loved, then never loved at all.’

     Robin tried to get Liz into bed that night, but she chose to sleep by the fire.  Liz’s mind remained on Calvin as she drifted off watching the fire.

     The next morning Liz got up and had coffee and breakfast with Robin and Lee.  “I’ve been so wrapped up in my own world that I haven’t even asked about you two.  Since when did you move in together?”

     Robin smiled.  “Two months after you left, we couldn’t stand being apart, so Lee moved up here.”

     “What about your plans to go to college, Robin?”

     “I’m going at night and Lee works out on the Bloomfield ranch full time.  They absolutely adore him.”

     “Who wouldn’t adore him, I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do.”

     Lee smiled at Liz.  “Oh, there are a few things.”

     “Lee, you could survive off mother earth if you had to.”

     “Ah, don’t tell anyone the fan mail might start pouring in.”

     The three friends laughed.  Lee got up; putting his dishes in the sink.  “I’ll see you tonight.  Liz, you hang in there.”

     “I’m trying Lee.”

       Lee left the house heading for the ranch.  Robin and Liz sat there in the silence holding their coffee mugs.

     “Do you want me to go with you today, Liz?”

     “No, I think your right.  A walk alone through our old stomping ground might do me some good.”

     “I’ll get some chores done around here while you’re gone.”

     Liz got up from the table.  “I think I’ll get dressed for the day.”

     “Yes, I should too.”

     After they both got dressed, Liz hugged Robin, “See you in a little while.”


     Liz went outside, breathing in the fresh Montana air.  “I wish you could have seen this Calvin.”  Liz left the porch and walked off into the woods.  The memories of her childhood filling her mind as she walked the trails, the distant mountains still there as if lying in wait for her return.  Liz sat by the river at her and Robin’s favorite spot, watching the cool water stream by.  She picked up a stick; playing with it and poking it into the dirt.  Liz thought back to her and Calvin’s last night together, ‘I promise you, I will come back home.’  Remembering the sincerity in his voice and the look in his eyes made Liz start crying again.  She sat there for a long time as her tears fell into the stream below being carried away with the current.

     Half the day had drifted by before Liz finally came back to reality.  She made her way back to Robin’s house, and went in closing the door behind her.  She found Robin cleaning the bathroom.  Liz leaned up against the door jam.  “I had enough of that detail in boot camp.”

     Robin’s feet must have cleared the floor six inches.  “Liz!  You scared the crap out of me!”


     Robin turned around and sat on the toilet seat.  “How was your walk?”

     “Good, I guess.  I don’t think time will heal this scar.”

     “No, but it will get more bearable.”

     “I think I’ll run over to Gram and Gramp’s house.  Can I use your car?”

     “Sure, the keys are on the counter.  I don’t have school tonight, so there’s no need to hurry back.”

     “I appreciate it Robin.  I think I should spend the night with them.”

     “Hey, what ever you want to do.  This is your time, besides you’ll have my car if you when you want to come back.”

     Liz kissed Robin on the cheek and grabbing her bag and the keys off the counter left on her way to Grandma’s.

     When Liz pulled up out front, she sat there staring at the house.  She grabbed the keys; getting out of the car and heading for the front door.  Before she could knock, Grams opened it.  Grandma hugged her sweetly.  “Liz!”

     “Hi, Grams”

     “Come in child, come in.  This is still your home.”

      Liz walked through the doorway looking around the house.  “Where’s Grandpa?”

     “He’s up town, dear.”


     “Come, come, I’ve made your favorite, sugar cookies.”

     Liz followed Grams to the kitchen and sat at the table.  Grams brought over a big plate of cookies; sitting them on the table with a glass of milk for Liz.”

     “Eat my child.  You’re as thin as a rail.”

     “I just haven’t been hungry much, Grams.”

     “You have a beautiful child growing inside you, so you need your strength, now eat up.”

     Liz started eating some cookies with her milk.  She was hungrier than she thought.  “I’m sorry I didn’t come by yesterday, Grams.  I just needed some time.”

     “Oh, dear, that’s okay, I understand completely.”

     Liz knew Grams understood her pain, she had went through it herself when Liz’s mother was killed.

     Tears welled up in Liz’s eyes.  “I can’t accept the fact that he’s gone, Grams.  You and Grandpa would have loved him.”

     “Yes, I know we would have, Honey.  I realized long ago that all things happen for a reason.  We may not like it at the time, but it’s not for us to decide, but we can decide on how we choose to deal with it.”

     “I’m not dealing with it very well.”

     “Time, dear, in time.”

     “I’ve missed our talks, Grams.”

     Grams patted Liz’s hand like she always did.  “Yes, so have I, but I always knew you’d come home again.”

     Liz sat there eating the cookies Grams Hs made for her.  Grams caught her up to speed on the goings-on in town and who was with whom.  They laughed for sometime together about the details. 

     Grandpa came through the door.  “My beautiful girl is home again!”


     Liz got up, running to Grandpa and hugging him tightly.

     “I’ve missed those hugs!  Stand back now, let’s get a look at you.”  Grandpa looked her over.  “Grandma, I believe our girl is thinning out.  You should get some food into her.”

     “Oh, Grandpa, it won’t be long and I’ll look as big as a barn when the baby starts to show.”

     “You’ll still be beautiful to me.”

     Grandma got up, walking toward the stove.  “Will you be staying for dinner Liz?”

     “I had planned to stay over night if that’s okay?”

     “You can stay forever.”

     Liz spent the evening talking to Grandma and Grandpa about Calvin, what she was doing at Fort Bliss, and how she looked forward to the baby’s arrival.  That night she went upstairs, getting into her old bed with her strength slowly coming back to her.  It was hard for her to completely accept that Calvin would never return.

     The next morning she sat with Grandma at the table drinking coffee.  “You know Grams; I know I’ll make it though this.  I really have been left with no choice.  I’m here alive our child.  Calvin’s gone.  He’ll never walk through that door again.  Sometimes I feel like a part of me died with him.”

     Grandma gave her a stern look.  “The pain will ease over time, my dear, but he will be with you always through the spirit of your child.  Each time you look at your baby you’ll see him and remember all the joyous moments.  That’s what it was like for me and Grandpa.  We never completely lost your mother, we had you and you’re the part of her that lives on.”

     “When I was five and mom and dad were killed in that car accident, I didn’t fully understand, but now I do.  I missed them, being with them, but it was different then.”

     “It’s hard for children that young to comprehend things as devastating as that, honey.”

     “All I do remember is crying, wishing Mama was there to read to me my bed time stories, but she never came.”

     “I miss her still every day.  You never stop remembering those you love and no other love can take its place, but you learn where to store it away in your mind, so that you can go on.”

     “Grams, you and Grandpa mean the world to me.”

     “And you’re everything to us, my dear.”

     “I’m going back to Robin and Lee’s.  I’ll be back in a few days.  I’ll call you, okay?”

     “That’s fine, dear.  I know you’ll be back.”


     Grandma’s eyes twinkled with knowingness.  “All of this will work its way through, you’ll see.”

     Liz gave Grams a hug going into the living room where Grandpa sat reading the morning paper.  Liz gave him a big hug, kissing him good bye.

     Liz drove back to Robin and Lee’s.  They ate dinner that night with little talking, giving Liz time to reflect on what was to come.

     The week ended too quickly.  Lee had left for work already by the time Liz woke up.  She went strolling into the kitchen.  Robin sat at the table.  “Good morning.”

     “Hey, Robin, you, too.”

     “What time does your flight leave today?”

     “1:00 p.m., I wish I could stay here.  I don’t know if I can face going home, so much of Calvin is there.”

     “You can do this, Liz.”

     “Thanks for letting me stay, tell Lee thank you as well.”

     “Oh, speaking of Lee, he wrote a letter for you.  He said not to read it until you’re on the plane.”

     Robin handed Liz the envelope.  “I will wait until I’m on the plane.”

     Liz got ready to go.  Robin helped her pack her bags and carry them to the car.  They loaded the bags, got in and drove to the airport.  Robin pulled up to the departure doors.  “I’ll drop you off with your bags and then go park.”

     “No, I got it from here, Robin.

     Robin stared at Liz, her eyes filling with tears.  “I’ll miss you, Liz.  I’m so sorry about Calvin.”

       Liz leaned into the car and gave Robin a hug.  “No one ever promised us that our lives would be perfect.  Those were our childhood dreams.  Even when you’re not there, I know you’re with me, Robin.”

     “And don’t you forget it either!”

     “Never have.”

     Robin finally smiled, wiping the tears away.  Liz got her bags and headed for the departure entrance.  She turned around one last time, blowing a kiss and waving good bye to Robin.  Robin did the same.  Liz disappeared through the entrance of the airport.

     The flight was a little delayed, but Liz finally got on board and seated herself.  She had an isle seat this time, but still looked out the window feeling the loneliness coming over her again.  She knew that she had to finish her commitment to the Army.  Calvin had died serving his country and she wouldn’t dishonor him by giving up.  Liz suddenly remembered the letter from Lee.  She reached in, grabbing it out of her carry on bag and holding in both hands stared at it.

     Liz couldn’t wait; ripping it open and unfolding the letter that was inside, it read:

“Dearest Friend,

Remember the day we first met?  I knew then that you had the heart of a lion.  I know your strength and spirit will carry you through what has happened and what you will face in the future.  When you get down just lean on your inner strength, you have the soul of a fighter and you will defeat this.

We are always with you,

Love Lee

     Liz folded the letter back up, clutching it tightly in her hands as the plane took off.  She lay back against the seat rubbing her belly, saying quietly, “It’s just you and me and I promise to always tell you about your brave father.”

     Liz fell asleep with her one hand on her belly and the other hand holding Lee’s letter.





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