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It takes but a second to fall in love with someone, and the time passes so quickly it's hard to understand anything happening. Now though, I can honestly say I loved him more than I ever thought I could, and that, is where I first went wrong.
A feeling of butterflies danced around my stomach, but I could not place the reason. He smiled at me gently, and they flew around, dancing and flapping their wings to a soft beat. He was cute, there was no denying it, but I still wasn't sure I trusted him. I assumed it was the sparkly blue eyes with the shaggy brown hair: he could be described as the stereotypical high school hottie, though his personality screamed otherwise. He was sweet, though extremely shy. Intelligent, yet humble. I remember the first day I ever saw him I developed a crush, and I felt like that second grade little girl who didn't yet realize her best guy friend was who she would someday marry.
"What are you thinking?"
My train of thought disapeared as I slipped back into reality. Kent's arms were wrapped around me, my head resting on his chest. I sat between his legs on the bedroom floor, the plush white carpet looking bleached compared to the amount of tan on my legs.
We were in Hawaii, our "honey-moon" before the wedding. The hotel room was beautiful, with a black and white theme, completely opposite the tropical feel to the little island. The master suite was stunning, complete with silver bedrails and a black and white swirled duvet that gave me a headache if I stared too long. Along the walls a silver trim seperated the black bottom and the white top. A ceiling fan with designs matching that of the bedspread spung constantly, cooling the room about two degrees.
I pushed myself from the floor and collapsed on the neatly spread duvet, where Kent quickly joined me.
"Just about us," I sighed, breathing in the fresh air pouring in from the balcony.
He followed my gaze, examing the ocean view as I did. It was breathtaking; the clear blue of the water compared to the rustic orange of the sand sent excitement through my veins, and at that moment, I wanted only to dive into the endless blue ocean.
"It's beautiful," he said simply, and I turned and kissed him on the cheek.
If I could live forever in a single day, I would, without a doubt, choose to re-live the day Kent asked me to marry him.
It was October tenth, the leaves were already red and orange and the ground near the barn was covered in them. I remember taking my horse, Misty, out to the pasture for a ride.
She was hilarious, having a personality totally her own. I couldn't force her to do anything she didn't want to, and I envied that about her. In those big, brown eyes, I saw a kind of determination I so wished I could have, but I didn't.
Her golden mane was matted against her neck, and as she ran I could feel myself bouncing along with her.
I sensed his presence, and looked over to find him sitting on the fence, watching me ride. I immediately regretted not wearing my hair in a better way, but quickly remembered I had no reason to be self-concious when I was with him.
Of all men, I was convinced he was the most understanding. I felt I could tell him anything, and the more we were near each other, the stronger our trust grew.
I snuck another quick look, though this time he was not looking at me. His eyes looked out towards the sunset, watching the redish colors fade as night drew near. He had a half-smile on his face, and I wondered what he could possibly be thinking when Misty decided she was done for the day.
She stopped abrubtly, sending me flying over her neck. I fell, hard, to the ground, and felt the effects of the wind being knocked out of me.
Kent tensed, quickly jumping off the fence and over to my side. He picked me up, with ease I may add, and looked me straight in the eyes, silently asking if I was alright. When I smiled, as was always my immediate reaction to him, he chuckled, grabbing Misty's reins and leading her back into the barn.
"What, may I ask, is so funny?" I said, following closely behind him.
"Nothing," he smiled.
I rolled my eyes and took Misty's reins from him. He laughed as I walked quickly ahead, and ran to catch up.
Pulling my shoulder back towards him, he pulled me into a kiss. It took me by surprise, but I quickly regained the feeling of warmth he brought with him.
"What," I asked, short of breath, "is with you?"
He laughed, kissing me again. "I didn't know when I would get the guts to ask you, but when I saw you fall off that horse, I realized how quickly life goes by."
I laughed this time, completely confused. "Wait, you thought I was going to die?"
"Not exactly," he smiled, "but for some reason I felt protective of you, like I wasn't supposed to let anything bad happen to you."
I blushed, simply happy to be spending time with him, but I remembered what he said earlier, "Wait, you said 'get the guts to ask you'. What did you mean?"
He became more serious, though his smile shone warmly through his eyes.
"Amber," he began, slowly kneeling to the ground, "I have finally realized how much I truly love you. We haven't known each other too long, but it takes but a couple of seconds to find who you love; the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Amber Lynn Cardon, will you marry me?" As he asked, he pulled a silver box from his jeans pocket.
I wasn't big on tears, but they seemed to have no problem spilling down my cheeks at this moment of pure happiness. "Kenneth William Richwood, I will definitly marry you."
Love is a simple thing, though the defenition varries from person to person. If I was ever to be asked what I believed love to be, I would say it is the feeling that you feel when you realize the person you most care about, could be lost to you forever. In a time of despair or mourn, love is all around, though it forever burns a hole into your heart. Love, simply put, hurts.
The day Kent died, a memory of which day by day I ask to leave. The loss of someone close is never easy, but for me, it felt as if I was to blame.
We had been arguing for days: Kent wanted to join the military. I cried when he told me, terrified of how I would live if he never came home. I imagined those movies I had seen, where the women screamed in pain, for the men they most loved were now only memories. I didn't want to be one of those women.
"I won't get hurt, I promise."
He must have tried that line a million times, though I didn't believe him a single time he said it. I already knew the consequences, and I was not ready to take that leap of faith.
"Kent, as selfish as I'm being, I couldn't do it. What would happen if you never came home? I'd be a wreck. I wouldn't eat. I would get sick."
"Amber, I won't be gone too long. They let me take breaks."
I laughed, though not happily, more of a "I'm terrified you'll leave me but I'll pretend everything's okay" kind of laugh.
"Sweetheart," he said, taking me into his arms, and I, reluctantly, let him pull me in. "I love you, but I have to do this."
"Why?" I asked, afraid if I said anymore than one-word answerd I would bust into sobs.
"I feel I owe it to my country."
"Kent, you don't owe anyone anything."
"I know Amber, just trust me? Okay? I promise you, I will be home in a year, cuddling with you on the couch watching sappy movies. We'll get married, have kids of our own, and watch them grow and mature. Everything will be fine."
I ended up giving in, fault number two on my part. He made a promise that he was unable to keep, and for that, I wanted to punch him. I, on the other hand, let him go, and for that, I would not be able to live with myself ever again.
I watched his plane take-off with a heavy heart. Every second that passed was a longer distance Kent was from me. I didn't cry while he was with me, not even when I said goodbye, but the second he was out of sight, I fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
Now that I had seen him take-off, it was as if he had never existed, and he felt like a figment of my imagination.
I spent all of my time devoted to the T.V. screen and the internet keeping tabs on everything that was happening in Iraq.
I didn't once write a letter, for fear I would in turn recieve one saying he wouldn't be coming home. I tried clearing my mind of everything bad, but the images of Kent lying in the dirt, eyes closed, seeped back in, causing tears to break through.
I cried myself to sleep night after night, constantly wishing for him to burst through the door and pull me into his arms like he always used to do. My memories of him were fading, and that scared me.
About five months after he left, I got the knock on the door. Immediately I broke into tears, as if I already sensed who it was.
I knelt to the ground, closed my eyes, and prayed to God that it was my brother Pete at the door telling me Kent's flight home was coming seven months early.
Whoever it was knocked again, and I walked, shaking, to the door.
Standing before me was a man in a suit, carrying a single envelope. Behind him stood another man, staring at the ground as if he expected it to get up and walk away.
"Mrs. Richwood?" He asked?
I smiled, though I felt no emotion but sorrow and pain. "Actually, I'm Ms. Cardon. I haven't married yet."
The man frowened even deeper, and looked extremely uncomfortable. "I'm General Hughes."
I nodded, unable to speak.
He sighed, continuing slowly. "I'm so sorry I'm the one to have to tell you, Ms. Cardon, last night Kenneth Richwood was shot, he was in the hospital for about eight hours," I hadn't reacted yet, so he continued, "Dear, Kent was pronounced dead at seven o'clock this morning."
I nodded, trying hard to compose myself for two more minutes. I tried to speak, say thank you for letting me know or something short, but nothing came out. As much as I had expected this visit, I hadn't anticipated the amount of hurt it would bring.
The General looked pained, as if I was any of his problem. I was an eighteen year-old girl, whom Kent had asked to marry and then left in order to go to war. He died at age twenty one.
The General nodded, wished condolences, and left, the other man tearing up as he waved goodbye. The second the door closed, I lost all control, sobbing like a school-girl who didn't get her way. I fell onto the floor, with every intention of staying there until I died. A life without Kent, was unimaginable, yet, I was now living it.
April twentieth, my birthday, a day that used to be celebrated, but from here on out, would be viewed as tragic. The day I turned nineteen, Kent Richwood took his last breath.