Ryder and Dean insisted I write this story and share it on Memorial Day. It’s just a brief snippet set seven years after His Soldier.
His Soldier – Memorial Day
“Here you go, ladybug,” Dean said, giving his daughter her snack of apple slices and string cheese.
Charlotte munched on an apple slice. “Thank you, Daddy. Daddy, there is no school Monday. My teacher says it is um, Memory Day.”
With a chuckle, Dean corrected her gently, “Memorial Day.”
She bobbed her head. “To say thank you to Papa and Uncle Joel.”
“That’s right, a thank you to all those who have served for our country.” Dean sat beside her at the table. She was so clever for a four-year-old. And cute as a button. He tucked one of her copper-red curls back behind her ear. “Did you tell your class about Papa?”
“Uh-huh. I said Papa is a hero with a special leg ‘cause he saveded Uncle Joel.”
“Saved, and we are very lucky to have them both.” Dean kissed the top of his daughter’s head.
“You know your Uncle Dax was a hero too. He was in the army just like Papa.”
Charlotte gazed at him with her bright green eyes. “Nana visits him. Can we do that too? And say thank you.”
“I think that is a really nice idea, sweetie.” Dean smiled. “We’ll go on Monday, okay? But you know, Char, you won’t be able to see or talk to him.”
“I know, Daddy. He’s an angel. Nana says you cannot see him but he is there and he will be happy to see us. I’m going to go draw a picture for Uncle Dax!” Charlotte jumped up and dashed off.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Dean stayed there, thinking of his brother Dax and the sacrifice he had made.
On Memorial Day, Dean, Ryder and Charlotte took the drive to the cemetery to visit Dax. Charlotte had her picture and flowers which they helped her put in a holder by the gravestone.
Charlotte then started chatting about her picture.
Ryder put his arm around Dean and tugged him close. “We’ve got a special little girl,” Ryder whispered.
Laying his head on Ryder’s shoulder, Dean said, “We do. I wish Dax could’ve met her. He’d have been a great uncle…” He trailed off, unable to continue.
“She’ll still know him, love. We’ll make sure of that.” Ryder kissed his temple. “One day we can tell her the story of how he brought us together.”
Dean nodded. “I can’t believe it’s been almost seven years. I still miss him.” Ryder thumbed away a stray tear.
Before Ryder could speak, Dean turned to him. He cupped Ryder’s face and brushed their lips together. “I’m so lucky to have you and this beautiful life you’ve given me.”
Ryder smiled. “I love you.”
Dean kissed him again. “I love you, too.”
Charlotte waved them over. “Daddy, Papa, will you tell me the story again?”
“Of course, ladybug.” Ryder knelt down and he and Dean settled beside their daughter. Ryder lifted Charlotte into his lap and hugged her close. Dean put his arms around them both and told Charlotte the story of how they’d met and fell in love.