MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF
A Love Story by
Diane Stark (McConnell) Sanfilippo
Chapter 60 – Bon Voyage!
Saturday morning began later than usual, as the soft whirr of the window air-conditioning unit seemed to lull our sleeping children right back to sleep when they began to stir. Michael no longer jumped into bed with us the first thing in the morning, preferring instead to sit in his big boy bed and play with his cars and trucks, making mountains out of pillows with tunnels burrowed under the covers, all the while making soft ‘engine’ sounds.
We explained to him before Margie was born that when we brought the new baby home he would have to play more quietly since babies need to sleep a lot, but I doubt if that had as much to do with his quiet play, rather simply a new phase in his young life, and not the result of our conversation. Even though he was almost three, he still would do exactly what I told him not to do, and if told to do something that is exactly what he did not do. Sometimes we tried to turn this little bit of inherited idiosyncrasy around on him, and we would ask him to do just the opposite of what we wanted. We had told him to be sure to wake up his sister every morning so she could eat, and since he was not very happy about her ‘biting’ his Mommy this time it had worked! I seriously doubted if our ‘trick’ would work much longer as he was already beginning to second-guess both his father and me.
Pretending to sleep, I watched our son as he played among the blankets and pillows. He was so much like his father, yet so different too. I had never seen a baby photo of Billy, not even when cleaning out the house after Helen’s funeral, so I had no idea if Michael resembled him when he was small. Like his father, his features were even and, ‘pretty’, and while I would never have used the word in front of Billy, I was proud of my ‘pretty’ little boy and his equally ‘pretty’ little sister. Yes, together Billy and I had passed genes on to our children that would enable them to go far in this world, and we could only hope that they would use them to their best advantage. Most of all I wanted them to be ‘kind’ and ‘loving’, and to find love as wonderful as the love from which they were created. That was the one most important thing that I wished for my children besides the usual good health and good mind.
I often prayed they would find someone to love and to love them as much as Billy and I loved each other. If only they could find the manner of happiness that we shared, that is all I could wish, although I knew that the love I shared with their father was rare indeed. With a lot of patience on Billy’s part, I had learned that love is a two-way street, and that to keep our marriage going in the same direction, sometimes one had to give into the other, and vice versa. There was nothing 50/50 about life or marriage, just the ability to give all of yourself at all times, and with both doing so, everyone is a winner.
Through trial and error I discovered that it was of utmost importance to keep the ‘romance’ in our marriage, and thankfully with Billy more than cooperative that was the simplest part since my handsome husband was indeed a romantic! I had also learned that it is not good enough just to say ‘I love you’ since those are just words, and can often be nothing more. So we both learned to back up our words with kindness, respect, and affection, although words were important too, and Billy had certainly taught me more ‘lines’ than I could have ever learned on my own. Tradition was also an important part of our marriage, like our ‘pineapple sandwiches’ when we moved, and although it may have been ‘silly’, according to others, sharing a ‘saying’ and ‘songs’ that meant something just to us alone was a vital part of the ‘romance’ in our marriage. I cherished each and every one of our ‘traditions, from the way Billy would ‘wink’ at me from across a parade field or anywhere else that was too public for words, and I knew that he was silently saying ‘I love you’. Even though separated by a distance where one would have to shout for the other to hear, or when we were in a crowd, we communicated our love. The moves were so very subtle that no one else but me would have noticed, but I always watched Billy, and only Billy, waiting for our secret message and never was I disappointed, and this made me love him even more.
Often we would even finish other’s sentences because we now even ‘thought’ alike, and while we both made friends easily, we never shared our ‘secrets’ with anyone, no matter how close a friend they were. After the way that we both had seen our parents disrespect each other, we had been determined to do it right, and so far, our determination was working just fine. Long ago I had given up tantrums and throwing things, and long ago Billy had tamed his own temper, and now our home was filled with love, and joy in the love that we felt for each other and our children.
“How lucky you are,” I silently thought about our children, “to grow up in a home where there will be no fights, no cursing, no disrespect, and no drinking! To grow up knowing you are loved for yourself, and yourself alone, and that love is quiet and kind, and never violent.”
Yes, these two little ones were going to grow up in a happy, whole home, with both a mommy and a daddy who loved and respected each other, and who loved them. They would never be embarrassed to bring friends home for a sleep-over, or worry about what they would find when they came home from school. We might not be able to give them the security of a ‘hometown’ since we would lead the nomadic life of a military family, but we could give them the richness of discovering the world, hopefully the ability to cope with changing situations, and the opportunity to meet and make new friends.
By example, we would teach them to respect authority, each other, their family, and their friends. Although they may not wake up in the same house every day of their lives, they would wake up with the knowledge that their parents loved them, and the security of a two-parent home, even if sometimes their Daddy had to go away for months at a time. This I was determined to provide them, along with the best of what we could afford. We would not load them down with toys on Christmas in a futile attempt to make up for the misery of the rest of the year, but each new day would be like Christmas, filled with happiness and gleeful anticipation. Yes, I was determined that my children would have everything that I had wished for, and this did not mean a new doll or a bicycle every year, but a happy home, with parents who were still ‘in love’, and I certainly could not imagine that I would ever not be in love with Billy McConnell. He was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I hoped I was the same to him, and he often told me that I was. I could think of nothing that I could possibly want more that would even compare to this knowledge.
Grateful for the time that I could lay in the bed and reflect on our lives, while Billy gently snored beside me, every time that I did not think life could get any better, it always had, and always would, of that I was certain. Half asleep, and half awake as my mind concentrated on all that I had to be grateful for, I heard Margie as she began to suck her fist with greedy visions of peaches and cereal, so I slipped quietly from the bed, put my finger to my lips before Michael could speak, and softly said, “Don’t wake up your Daddy.”
Billy was still sleeping soundly, and I knew that it would be a long day for all of us, so sleep was what he needed more than anything else. Surprisingly obedient, Michael immediately went back to work constructing in his bed while I plugged in Margie’s dish and put the fruit and cereal in two of the three compartments. While her breakfast heated, I changed her diaper and tied a bib around her neck so she could substitute the tiny silver baby spoon for the fist that now filled her rosebud mouth. She must be hungry since she was sucking so hard on that fist that it was pink from her efforts, so I put her in her infant seat and spooned the cereal and fruit into her mouth as quickly as she would eat it. This was not an infant who spit out most of what was put into her mouth, rather she had quickly learned to taste the food for a second, and then after swallowing, she would open her mouth for more. She had quite an appetite for such a young baby, and I had to remind myself constantly that she was really a month older than her birth date!
Cereal and fruit finished, I wiped her face and hands, which often went back into her mouth following a spoonful of food, and feeling the sticky wetness in the now soaked pads in my nursing bra, I knew that I was behind schedule, at least as far as my breasts were concerned.
With the baby in my arms, I quietly slid my pillows up against the headboard so that I could sit back and nurse, and then opening my nursing bra and taking out a soaked pad, I put my daughter to my breast. With the force of a bilge pump she grasped my nipple in her mouth and was quickly suctioning it dry with a contented look in her eyes as she stared into my face. How anyone cannot at least attempt to nurse a baby, I will never understand since I felt like we were completely bonded by this wonder of nature, and I enjoyed it almost as much as she did.
It was her enormous first burp that awakened Billy, and as he stretched and yawned, he muttered, “That’s my little girl,” and I burst out laughing.
Then Michael decided to get in on the attention, and he began making his own belching sounds, which was something that Billy had taught him much to my dismay. I just KNEW that someday he would imitate this disgusting noise when we were eating with someone other than immediate family, who just laughed at his ‘cuteness’. So far, it had not happened, but we would be among total strangers, paying customers on the cruise ship, and who knows what my small son would come up with next, more than likely with the encouragement of his father.
“Are you excited yet?” Billy asked as Margie fastened tightly onto the other breast.
“Yes and no,” I replied since I was hoping that I would not get seasick, and I knew that the closer we got to paradise, the closer Billy got to Vietnam. “I am so afraid that I am going to get sick since I still get so carsick, and always have, and my father told me that he was deathly ill for about the first three months at sea during the war. I can’t take any Dramamine since it would affect my milk, and if I do nothing but throw up, I won’t have milk anyway.”
“Oh, you will be fine,” Billy assured me. “That ship is not like a little minesweeper or a car, it has ballast tanks for keeping her level and she won’t be tossed around, not even in a storm, and this isn’t storm season.”
He tried to reassure me, but I was getting rubber legs about this voyage, while looking forward to it at the same time. It was almost comparable to Christmas – the excitement of Santa, but the reality of my father’s drinking.
“Guess its time for fresh baked donuts and juice,” Billy said as he pulled himself to a sitting position, raised his arms, and stretched, “and after we eat, I’ll take the clothes to the Laundromat while Michael watches his morning cartoons.”
Those were certain to be abundant on this Saturday morning, so Michael would certainly not be bored. How he could sit for hours and watch the same cartoons repeatedly, I never understood, but all the other children his age did the same, so this was nothing unusual.
“I want to make sure that we have everything clean before we board, except for the diapers that we can’t avoid, but maybe I will wait and wash those about 3:00 in the afternoon so we won’t have all that many dirty ones to carry aboard.” Nodding my head in agreement, I took my now sleeping daughter and put her over my shoulder for another burp, and as soon as she promptly complied, I slipped her onto her soft pallet.
Walking into the dressing room where Billy was going over his morning stubble with his electric razor, I put both my arms around his waist from behind and looking into his eyes reflected in the mirror, I said, “Well, this is the day! I can’t believe that after all this waiting; we are finally leaving for Hawaii!”
Turning around, Billy held me in his arms and said, “Well, I have always wanted to take you on a ‘honeymoon cruise’, but I did not plan on having the children first!”
“This is just fine”, I replied, “I would not change a thing, except to make Vietnam go away,” as tears started to well up in my eyes, as much from the excitement of the voyage, but also from the fear that we would barely get there and he would have to leave.
As the first tear trickled slowly down my cheek, Billy kissed it away as he always did and promised me, “Honey, I will be fine. Do you think for even one minute that I want another man to sleep with my wife, or be a father to my children? No, not in a hundred years, so nothing is going to happen to me, besides I am too mean to die!”
I continued to hold onto him and thought that I would forever remember this moment, with the television turned down low and the cartoon antics making our son laugh aloud. Yes, I would remember that he promised me that he would never die.
The morning went by quickly as I repacked our two large suitcases with our now clean clothes. I had brought almost every piece of clothing that we owned, except for the heavy winter coats, and those I put into storage since we would not need them! One large garment bag with hangers held Billy’s summer uniforms, his only civilian suit, and my three dresses, which I would alternate wearing to supper aboard ship. The only uniforms Billy would need in tropical Hawaii were his dress whites, which I doubted would fit his recently filled out, well-muscled body and his ‘suntans’, which was his favorite uniform, although the Army eventually did away with that one. His fatigues, which would probably be his daily uniform, he rolled and packed into the bottom of the garment bag and would need only a quick pressing, but I felt sure that I could borrow an iron until our household goods arrived. Ever since he had been on active duty, I had been ironing his fatigues, which had to be ramrod stiff almost to the point of standing on their own. A 2nd Lieutenant’s pay simply did not stretch to cover laundry expenses, and I really did not mind and considered it a ‘labor of love’. I learned how to put ‘airborne creases’ in all of his shirts and now just from habit I ironed all of our shirts this way, even my own. On laundry day, I would wash the fatigues, dip them in sink filled with an entire box of heavy starch, and then hang them on the line while they were still dripping wet until they were almost dry. By not allowing them to dry completely I saved the step of having to sprinkle and roll them for ironing, and could just take them off the line, roll them, put them in a damp towel, usually in the refrigerator, and iron them one at a time. This was by no means a simple or easy process and each uniform took about an hour and a half to finish, but they were crisp, just like Billy liked them, with their airborne creases marking him as a ‘serious’ soldier.
With his boots shining to a mirror finish, he looked just as handsome in his fatigue uniforms as he did in his favorite suntans, but personally, I favored the dress blues with their light infantry blue stripes, noting his branch of service, and the shade of blue perfectly matched the blue of his eyes. Someday I hoped that we could afford ‘mess blues’, the ‘black tie’ tuxedo of military uniforms, but that could wait until he became a ‘field grade’ officer, Major and above. For now, he looked simply wonderful to me in any uniform that he wore, and I was proud to contribute to his professional demeanor, even if only by ironing and creasing his uniforms, just so.
Packing did not take long but I decided not to dress Michael until right before time to leave for the ship so he would still be clean and unwrinkled when we reached the terminal. By the time we boarded, and all the ‘bon voyage’ parties ended, it would almost be his bedtime, although we were assured that there would be some kind of buffet on board for those who had not eaten supper. Billy decided that he would just bring hamburgers back to the room for a late lunch and that way we would not be hungry until the ship got under way and we could locate the buffet. I was really looking forward to five days of ‘gourmet dining’, after our steady diet of hamburgers, although we had usually had a nice meal for supper. Billy was looking forward to the shrimp, or prawns that he hoped would be on the menu, and of course all the ‘in-between’ meals that would be offered.
The Lurline could in no way be compared to the ‘super luxury liners’ of today, but she was considered elegant for her time. I had read all the literature that the Matson Lines had sent us describing in detail the ‘ballast tanks’ on each side of the ship which balanced her against rough seas, so I felt fairly secure that the voyage would be smooth, the days and nights balmy, and the food plentiful and delicious. Yes, I was looking forward to this ‘break’ in routine and my ‘reward’ before having to plan and cook meals again once we were settled on Oahu. I had certainly had a nice long ‘vacation’ from the kitchen chores, and I enjoyed cooking, so I was looking forward once again to having a kitchen of my own.
Saturday afternoon brought the last day of ‘Darby’s Ranger’s and Billy would not have missed it for the world. He had just returned from washing the diapers when it came on, so while Michael played with his cars and trucks on one bed, I curled up to read in Billy’s arms on the other bed while the baby took her afternoon nap. Frankly I did not care if I ever again saw or heard the film, but many years later I did watch it again and was astonished that I still remembered, almost word for word, most of the dialogue.
Just before the end of the movie, I began to dress Michael and make myself presentable, since Uncle Charles, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Kendall and Aunt Dorothy, ‘Dot’, as she asked me to call her, would be arriving soon to take us to the ship. I knew I would long remember my newfound family, and their many kindnesses, and this was the best part of our stay in California, in this miserable heat called an ‘inversion’. We were yet to see the sun, and I wondered where the phrase ‘sunny California’ came from, or was that Florida?
I was beginning to get excited but Billy had been on a cruise with his parents, and was determined that he was not going to miss one scene of ‘his’ movie and he had yet to move or even take his eyes away from the screen. After I dressed Michael, I asked him not to get dirty since soon his uncles would be coming to take us over to the big ship, although there was very little he could get into in this tiny room since the bed was his ‘playground’. Then I fed Margie her supper, nursed and changed her into a fresh stretchy suit, then dressed myself and put on a little bit of makeup, mostly to hide the bruises of weariness under my eyes, and I added a tiny bit of green eye shadow. I really needed to go to the beauty shop, and although assured that there would be one on board, I was worried about the inflated prices. Although Billy told me to ‘splurge’ so that I would feel comfortable with all the glamorous ‘rich’ passengers aboard ship, I was more concerned with the way I would look when we docked in Honolulu.
The families arrived just on time, in two cars, since they came from two different directions, and we needed the space for our luggage. Our little family rode in the car with Uncle Charles and Aunt Ruth since Uncle Kendall’s daughters pretty well filled up their backseat, but thankfully, they owned a station wagon, so had plenty of room for our luggage. It was just a ten-minute drive to Terminal Island and the pier from our motel, and I could see the big ship pulled up to the same dock that had been empty the night we had turned in our car. We could almost see the pier from our motel room, but not quite since long, low warehouses blocked our view, although with the size of ‘The Lurline’, she towered over the roofs of most of them. I was not in awe over the size of the ship since as a child I had used aircraft carriers as playgrounds when my father was on active duty in the Navy. Actually, I was a bit disappointed that she was not nearly as large as I expected, although I am not sure what I had thought to compare her to, perhaps cruisers. The pictures that accompanied the brochure had shown her at sea and not pulled up to a pier, so the perspective was completely lost. Had my father not been in the Navy, and had I not seen so many battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, and other warships, I probably would have been more impressed. Uncle Charles and Aunt Ruth seemed to more than make up for my lack of enthusiasm, and I hoped that they all would be able to come aboard to see us off.
In fact, as we approached the boarding ramp with all the family in tow, and after having our orders checked, everyone followed us on board so we had plenty of help with the children and our carry-on bags. We did not have to worry about our luggage since we checked it, much like checking luggage when flying, and it would go directly to our cabin. I feared it would not be as simple when we arrived in Oahu, and just hoped that someone would be there to meet us.
Michael could not have been more excited, and I am sure that the ship loomed larger to a little boy than to any adult, although my aunts, uncles, and cousins seemed very excited too. We never did check out our cabin before we sailed since ‘guests’ were not allowed below deck, and if I had been able to see what Uncle Sam had arranged for us, I just might have gotten off and insisted on taking an airplane! For now, we joined in the revelers and received our portions of confetti and streamers, which Michael delighted throwing onto the dock. The atmosphere was ‘Mardi Gras’ and ‘New Years Eve’ all rolled into one as the happy voyagers popped the corks on bottles of champagne and stewards in their starched white jackets passed hors oeuvres on large silver trays among the passengers and their friends. Could they possibly do this every week when The Lurline docked? I supposed they could since each group of passengers was different, but it must get old for the crew after awhile, and just another of the duties of their jobs, although you certainly could not tell it by the broad smiles on most of their faces.
With the final whistle and long, deafening blasts from the ship’s foghorns, it was time for all visitors to disembark. We kissed and hugged everyone and thanked all for their Southern California hospitality, and added that we hoped they could come to see us on Oahu, and if not there, in Georgia once we returned. With assurances that we would meet again, all my family paraded down the gangplank, but stood on the dock to wave while the tugboats slowly pulled the big ship away from the pier. With a final blast of the foghorn, the ship was turned and headed out to sea, and all of a sudden, I began feeling queasy.
This was ridiculous; we had not even left the bay! I had not even brought any Dramamine, since first I never thought that I would need it or anyone else either. Second, I could not have taken it since I was nursing and everything I took eventually made its way to the baby, and third, I thought that if Michael became ill, then there would be plenty of medicine aboard in the ship’s sickbay. I just had not thought that I would begin to feel ill even before the lights of Los Angeles were out of sight! Fighting the growing feeling of riding on a merry-go-round that was spinning too fast, Billy gathered up the few ‘carry-on’ pieces of luggage, to include the diaper bag, and while he led the way with Michael holding onto his hand, carrying Margie I followed behind while we sought out our cabin.
Finally reaching the proper deck, we asked a stewardess if she might show us the way, and imagine our surprise and anger when she opened the door to two tiny rooms just across the hall from each other with two double berths, one on top of the other! Some ‘honeymoon’ this was going to be with Billy and Michael in one cabin, and Margie and I in the other cabin! This was definitely not exactly what we had counted on, but the old Army saying is that if they wanted soldiers to have wives, they would have issued them now came to mind! I guess that this way they hoped there would be no shipboard conceptions! How would we possibly work this out? With tears of frustration and disappointment in my eyes, and the doors to both cabins open so we could at least hear each other, we settled into our confined domicile, at least for the next five days. I guess that most passengers did not spend much time in their cabins since we barely had room to turn around, or even for an open suitcase. There was one small dresser in each cabin, although for five days, we had not planned to unpack, but now we had no other choice. Certainly, the ‘paying passengers’ had far better accommodations, and as we were later to find out from another young officer aboard with his wife and family, they had the same situation. No honeymoon suites for Army officers, just ‘crew cabins’, although we would be expected to tip the two stewards and the stewardess assigned to us, the latter because we had an infant, just as if we were in a ‘real’ cabin. The stewardess was available to supply baby food and to baby sit, but her fee for the latter was out of our league, so now we had to tip three crewmembers, the mater de in the dining room, and our waiter! Billy had not counted on this added expense, but he still insisted that I make an appointment to have my hair done. We also drew the ‘first seating’ for supper with the other passengers who were not traveling ‘first class’, since the ‘rich’ did not want to be bothered by children during their meals. However, all the other amenities were available to us, IF we could find a way to partake with two little ones to worry about. We had also counted on Michael being able to participate in the children’s activities in the playroom, but even though he was ‘potty trained’ – one prerequisite – he was not three years old, at least not for one more month!
Feeling more nauseous by the minute, tears now rolling down my face, I unpacked our clothing for the next five days, and then with the children in tow we set out to find the ‘Bon Voyage buffet’. Billy, upset by my disappointment, tried to make me laugh by saying that at least he would make sure that he got Uncle Sam’s money’s worth by eating everything that was not still alive all the way to Hawaii!
After walking in what seemed to be endless corridors we finally found a huge buffet set up in one of the ballrooms with tables overflowing with exotic-looking food, some foods that neither of us had ever seen before, much less tasted, and all presented in beautiful form. Here, we teamed up with the other Army family, and after finding a table in the corner so the children were out of the way of the still partying revelers, one couple at a time we filled our plates and brought them back to our table. Billy was ecstatic to find huge punch bowls filled with steamed shrimp in a nest of ice; although he would have preferred them fried, he managed to eat more than his share. I fixed Michael a plate of fruit, cold cuts and cheese with crackers, but there was not a glass of milk in sight, and since this was a buffet there were no waiters to ask, rather they were busy bringing trays of food from the kitchen and taking the empty trays back. At least we did not need to have to tip anyone else! I had to be satisfied that he was getting his calcium with the cheese, and he drank an overly sweet punch, probably made with tropical fruits, with his snack. Although I really did not feel much like eating, I knew that I would need my strength to keep up with Michael aboard this huge floating playground and of course nutrients for the baby. Slowly, I nibbled on some fruit and cheese, and a few shrimp from Billy’s plate along with a pate` that I found delicious, although I could not get Billy to even taste it! The fresh pineapple was plentiful, but we could not get used to the overly sweet taste of the mangos and papayas, so I vowed to avoid them when I could. As we ate, we talked and got to know each other and found out that our new ‘friend’s’ table was right next to ours in the main dining room, and also that they played Bridge, which was a big plus. We would not be able to take part in the dancing and partying, although Billy was not disappointed since he did not enjoy dancing like I did, but my dream of dancing on the deck in the moonlight had been shot all to pieces. With my mind working overtime, I thought that perhaps we could exchange ‘baby sitting’ duties with our new friends, and then all of us could enjoy at least one or two hours of dancing in the moonlight. With this thought, and my increasing queasiness, I suggested to Billy that perhaps it was time to find our tiny cabins once again so I could nurse the baby in privacy.
With our appetites satisfied, although I had eaten very little, we parted for our rooms where Billy wanted to figure our how we were going to make love in the moonlight with separate rooms and single berths! Both rooms did have a porthole, and a tiny portable crib for the baby, so as soon as Billy was sure that Michael was asleep, he was able to leave the door cracked since we were on a tiny dead-end hall where our cabins were the only rooms, he slipped into mine and crawled into my berth.
“Not exactly what we expected?” he more asked than said, but since I was beginning to feel even more miserable, I only shook my head, with tears once again filling my eyes.
Oh, how I had looked forward to this voyage and having a real ‘honeymoon’ on the high seas with my handsome husband, and now we had separate rooms! Nevertheless, Billy was not about to let this minor roadblock keep him from his conjugal rights, and as he slipped off his pants, he cut off the light over the berth and pointed to the porthole where, lo and behold, we could see the moon reflected in the sea! This was another miracle! He slowly undressed me, foregoing our ritual shower since we had bathed at the motel, and gently, tenderly took me into paradise with him as we rocked with the rhythm of the ship while it rose and fell as it met the waves head-on. Yes, I thought, all I have to do is leave it to my Billy to find a solution to any problem, and knew that once again, he would not disappoint me although I knew I would miss his soft snore and his arms around me while I slept.
Even though displeased by our quarters, I relished Billy’s lovemaking and realized that we didn’t need more room than this single berth, after all we had shared a bed in Fertile Valley for months that was just inches wider, and I knew that I would have welcomed him even if we had to make love on the floor. He whispered all the words he knew that I loved to hear and he kissed me long and deep, exploring my mouth with his tongue and I his, and I knew that I would not and could never deny my handsome Airborne Ranger the pleasure he derived from my Reubenesque postpartum body! He would just laugh when I would tell him that he had indeed married a ‘pig’, referring back to the name the cadets called the coeds at North Georgia. I would never have said it if I did not know that I could count on him to say something to make me feel better, and he did.
“I like my women with some meat on their bones, and I particularly like those big boobs! If it takes one to have the other, then consider me a happy man.”
He had always known how to make me feel better about myself, even though the mirror said otherwise. Billy and I had become adults together. Children when we met, fell in love, conceived a child and married, we had grown up together, and I liked him, as much as loved him, more than ever, this handsome soldier of mine, who was my love, my heart, and who professed to love me ‘more than life itself’. So this night, the first of our five day voyage, we made love with the moon shining through the porthole, much like he promised all the way west, and as usual, he made sure that I was as satisfied as he was.
What delight I felt with the words and promises he uttered while in the heat of the moment, but I knew that even afterwards, he meant every word as he said, “Oh little girl, if anyone had ever told me that I would love anyone as much as I love you, I would never have believed them. Diane, I do love you more than life itself, and then some. I just can’t seem to find the words that describe the way I feel, but you are my life, my love, and mine forever.”
While the moon danced on the water just outside the porthole, I echoed his sentiment. “Oh my darling, darling Billy, how I love to say your name, and how I love to be in your arms. I could stay here this way forever, and I too love you more than life itself. Hold me and don’t ever let me go!”
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