Authors: Christie Gucker
Tags: #love, #military, #ptsd, #soldier, #army, #love at first sight, #military romance, #the purple heart
Christie A.C. Gucker
Copyright 2012, Christie A.C. Gucker
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Pagan Writers Press
Edited by Toni Rakestraw
Cover by Chuck Baum
This book is dedicated to every man
and woman who has served as a
soldier to defend freedom for all. You are heroes. It is also
dedicated to the families of those soldiers, who give up their
fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children and
friends so that we can have those freedoms.
Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.
Thank you all.
Special dedication to the soldiers
in my family, my father John P. Choida,
grandfather Stephen P. Gaida, brother-in-law Darren Dreher,
my father-in-law Donald Gucker, and my grand uncles,
who have served or continue to do so for our country.
The mission of Battling BARE, Inc. is
to provide a network of support for the spouses, children and
family members who silently struggle to carry the burden of PTSD
with their beloved Service Members. By creating a safe place to
band together and share our stories, we will raise awareness about
PTSD and create positive programs of true healing for families
Please join this great organization to
help our soldiers and their families deal with PTSD.
Broken by battle...
Wounded by war...
My love is FOREVER—to you this I
Quiet your silent screams...
Help heal your shattered
Until once again, my love—YOU ARE
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
God, thank you for everything you give
to me. I know I am blessed. And I appreciate it all.
Of course I want to take this time to
thank my family for their never-ending support for my never-ending
endeavors. Chris, Sam and Sydney, you really have no idea how much
it means to know that you are there for me all the time.
Thanks to my mom Kathleen Choida, for
always being there for me and reading all my books and being my
Thank you to all my friends and family
for your love and support.
Now…I have to stop for a moment and
give a VERY VERY special thanks to two very important people in my
life, which brought two of the characters in this book to life.
Well, maybe I should say, the characters are based on them and
their awesome personalities! Gina Bennett and Cheryl Chere —you two
ladies have brought so much laughter to my life over the past few
years and heck, we’ve never even met in person. SO…if this book
ever goes to film? We have a date on the red carpet! Wishful
thinking but you never know. Thank you for always being there and
being my friend. I love you so much!
Special shout out to my
goddaughter/niece Chelsie Dreher—love you so much, babe.
I want to thank all my very wonderful
twitter gals who fangirl with me all the time. You ladies are the
BEST and thanks for everything you do for me! You KNOW who you all
are! Dee (Love you oodles), Kim (SPITTENS RULE), Angela, Jen
(although you only stalk my twitter! LOL <3s), Bearly (you are
important!), Nena, Michaela (LOVE YOU SO MUCH BABE), Marilyn (we
forge on together), Bobbie, LYCUM (always in my heart and DM!),
Karen, EYE …GOD the list could go on forever!!! Sorry if I didn’t
mention you by name, but I LOVE YOU ALL! You know that.
I would also like to thank these GREAT
military organizations: Battling BARE, Battle Buddy, Stop Soldier
Suicide, Honor and Respect our Troops, Wounded Warrior Project, One
Warrior Won, Lost Heroes, Hero To Hero, and Letters of
When they brought him to me,
I knew he wasn’t going to make it through the night. I had the
ominous feeling he wouldn’t even make it through the next few
hours. The damage to his body was well beyond anything that could
be repaired. He seemed to be quite aware of it, too. My heart sank
in my chest, as I would be the only one to help him now. I watched
as everyone moved on to other soldiers and sat down beside
My name is Sydney. Hang in
there with me, okay? I’m going to stay with you. I’ll be right here
for whatever you need.”
I held his hand in mine and
stared into his eyes; they showed me how truly frightened he was.
His hands were so cold, and growing increasingly colder. I tried to
give him all my strength. It was all I could offer him.
I’m dying, aren’t I? I
can’t believe this is how my life ends. I don’t want to die,” he
confessed in a shallow-breathed whisper. He was so young, probably
only in his early twenties, with so much life yet to live ahead of
him. Now he would never have that chance.
There’s nothing to be
afraid of—I promise. It’ll be beautiful on the other side. I just
know it. This life is only a stepping stone,” I tried to reassure
How do you know? How?” he
pleaded softly, needing to hear my response.
I didn’t have much of a response to
offer him. I didn’t know. To be honest, I was afraid to die, too.
What if there really was nothing more after this life? Is this
really how I chose to spend mine? In the grand scheme of the
universe, each person’s life is just a quick blip on the radar. It
wasn’t much time at all, if you thought about it that way. However,
there was also a big part of me that wanted to believe there’s
waiting for us after this little blip
I’d love to come back,
reincarnated into another person, to live every step of life. There
were so many things I would love to do all over again, like being a
baby in a father’s comforting arms, having that very first kiss, or
maybe falling in love. Falling in love; it was something I hadn’t
done yet in this life. Not true love, at least.
I wondered if I’d remember
anything from my previous life. I believed some people might. Old
souls, you know the ones I’m talking about. A child who says
something so profound, you can only stand there dumbfounded, and be
sure to spend too much time pondering it. I once heard a
three-year-old say ‘It’s never too late for now.’ I’d thought about
that one for an entire month. In fact, I always would. I’d made it
my life’s mantra.
I’ve held the hands of
dying men before, too many of them. They’ve never looked frightened
when they passed. They’ve always looked—at peace,” I told him, as
he squeezed my hand with what little strength he had
It doesn’t hurt anymore,
you know? I can’t feel the pain.... Wait. Wait. Is that my father?
Yes, it is. I see my father. He’s calling for me.... He’s smiling.
He’s so young. I think I should go to him. I want to go to
Then go to him. It’s where
you’re supposed to be, that’s why he’s here. He came for you. Don’t
be afraid. It’s okay to go.” Those would be the last words he would
He smiled, and then his gaze
shifted past me. He looked happy and at peace. Then he was gone. I
felt my eyes well up with tears. No matter how many times I’d
watched someone die, the emotions I felt were so strong. I never
got used to it.
I waited until his hands
went completely cold, while cradling them in my own. I covered his
body with a white sheet, said a quick prayer for him, and left the
When I woke up that morning, I felt
like something was slightly off balance. I wasn’t exactly sure why.
After coming straight home from work the night before, I had only
made myself dinner and watched a movie. Maybe I was forgetting
something? I just couldn’t put my finger on it so checking my
planner to make sure would be one of the first things on my list. I
got up slowly and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My
reflection looked healthy and refreshed, but I certainly didn’t
feel it. My long hair was matted to my head with sweat, making a
faux turban. I ran my fingers through it to try to pry it loose.
The nightmare had disrupted my sleep again. As hard as I tried, I
just couldn’t remember this one. I often didn’t remember them at
all, but knew this one was about the war. I could remember hearing
gunfire and panic, but that was it. There had been a lot of similar
dreams lately, and they felt more like recurring distant memories.
I guessed it was a bit of my very own Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder. There was no way you could enter war and not be affected
by it somehow. Every soldier had some form.
I had been working with soldiers
returning from war for about three years now. Some of their stories
had repercussions on my vivid imagination. But I had my own
stories, having originally been an army nurse during the war on the
; you could say. I had watched many of the
soldiers in my care die from traumatic wounds. It was what I did
when there was nothing we could do to save them. I helped them
accept their fate the best I could in the short time we had, in
order for them to move on in peace. These men didn’t have to die if
it weren’t for the greed and selfishness of power-hungry tyrants.
It all seemed so tragic and unnecessary. It proved to actuate my
perspective on life, enough to bend my career in a different
direction. I wanted to work with the living once my tour was up
because I could no longer care for the dying. It was too final for
me. I had considered becoming an OB nurse, helping to bring life
into this world rather than watch it leave, but that just didn’t
feel right. I wasn’t quite sure why. Instead, I returned to school
and received my degree in Psychology, so that I could continue
working with the military, but this time as a civilian. Now, I help
the soldiers return to life outside of the military instead of
guiding them to their end. I help them find their way again. I help
them find their life.