Chapter 27—"Dedicated To The One I Love"
When I arrived home Jake was on the couch in front of the fire, his feet on the coffee table, reading a book. I put my suitcase and the box with the picture in it next to the door. “God, it’s good to see you,” I said as he gave me a long hug. “I didn’t expect you here.”
“I figured I could use your help planning a wedding.”
“What?” I pulled away from the hug and looked around as Ginger came out of the bedroom.
She came over and held out her hand. “My Christmas present.”
I looked at the diamond ring and then at her. “All I got was a new blanket.”
Ginger took both of my hands in hers. “Would you be my Maid of Honor?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Welcome back,” Peter said as he came in the living room followed by Suki and Racer. The other puppies made great Christmas presents for three lucky kids. Peter walked over and hugged me.
If I got enough hugs it might add up to one Dennis hug. That’s what I was counting on. That I could live with. “How is Suki doing without her pups?”
“She’s hovering over Racer most of the time. Hungry?”
The back door flew open. “You’re back.” Marty bounded into the room, his nervous energy intact. I bounded into his arms. We were all there. I wanted this moment, this place, these people to last forever.
Peter made dinner. Always and forever brown rice. Always and forever alfalfa sprouts. Sautéed vegetables, most of which he grew in the small greenhouse he constructed the past September. A side cabbage salad. A plate of carob brownies for dessert.
While we were sitting around eating, I told them all about the visit with Mama McKinney.
I cried. They cried. I cried some more. “Sometimes it hurts so much I don’t know how I can keep on living. Then I feel him there. It’s strange. I never felt that with Jeff.”
“I know what you mean,” Marty said. “It’s like he’s hovering.”
“I miss his hugs,” I said.
“They were the best,” Ginger said. Everyone nodded. Hook wasn’t stingy with his hugs.
“He learned it from his mom. Mama McKinney asked me to give all of you a hug from her,” I said. And I did.
“I have something to show you,” I got the box with the picture in it. “Mama McKinney gave it to me.”
I handed the picture around. Wordless. Speechless. Peter summed it up. “It is so perfect.”
That night I looked through my drawers for something I knew was there. The white candle Marty gave me for my birthday my freshman year. I took the sliver of a candle out of a wine bottle I had by my bed and put Marty’s candle in. Lit it. Got in bed. Pulled the covers over me and looked at the picture. Hook and me laughing. It was the only picture I had of him. I held it, feeling warm, feeling sad, feeling complete, feeling empty. I cried. I laughed. I didn’t know how I felt. I didn’t want to share this moment with anyone else. It was mine. I would carry his gentleness and his love. His love touched me deep and made me lovely. I missed him more than I could even imagine and yet at the same time he surrounded me. I could breathe. Love always lets you breathe. I fell asleep holding the picture convinced that he died knowing I loved him.
And so the second semester of my sophomore year began. I kept myself busy during the day with classes, studying in Hixson Lounge when I had free time and writing for the student newspaper. Nights were the hardest but with Hook everywhere around me and with the help of my friends, I could make it through.
Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States.
By Becky Jamison
The administration cancelled classes last Monday so that students could watch the inauguration of President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. In his speech, Nixon made a “sacred commitment to peace.” He asked the American people to “lower our voices” because “we cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard.”
The inauguration was not without controversy. More than a thousand anti-war demonstrators participated in an anti-inauguration march. More than eighty arrests were made. It was only the second time a presidential inauguration has been protested. The first was a protest of unemployed workers at Franklin Pierce’s inauguration in 1853.
The anti-war movement is alive and well. Join the LFC Students Against the War. The meetings are held in Hixson Lounge. Wednesdays at 7:00.
U.S. Soldier Body Count: 37,496