Here’s the final piece of More Than My Own Life. I hope you like it.
~October 20, 2002~
My breathing picks up the closer I get to Denver. It’s just Jasmine and me in the car, and I’m simultaneously nervous and excited. The day’s finally come that Joshua’s home. I’ve booked a room at the Hilton for tonight so I don’t have to drive the three hours home until tomorrow. Tonight, I just want to enjoy my husband’s company. And I know he’s going to want to spend quality time with Jasmine.
I pull into the parking lot of the same school where I said good-bye to him over a year ago. It seems like it’s been a lifetime; so much has happened. Jasmine is awake and happy, so I take her out of the carrier rather than bringing the whole thing. There are several other excited looking wives, husbands, girlfriends, and boyfriends already here.
About ten minutes after I enter the gymnasium, the doors on the far side open, and the soldiers enter. I look for Joshua; he’s in the second wave of men. I make my way to the front of the crowd, yelling his name. He spots me and drops his Army-issue duffle, and runs toward me. He swoops me up in his arms, and I know there’s no place in the entire world I’d rather be.
A sudden squeal separates us; we’ve sandwiched Jasmine, and she doesn’t like it.
Joshua steps back and looks at the tiny person in my arms. “This is her? Jasmine?” he murmurs.
“Yes,” I tell him, offering our daughter to him.
He takes her, looking nervous, but relaxes quickly. He rests Jasmine on his forearm and gazes into her vibrant green eyes. It’s amazing to me that she fits there, between his wrist and elbow; my arms aren’t big enough to hold her that way, not even when she was a newborn. “Hi, Jasmine,” he whispers.
She coos in response.
I take half a step back to allow Joshua his moment with his daughter.
“You are the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen. Your mama was right when she told me you were perfect. Those pictures Aunt Kayla took don’t do you justice, though. You’re so much prettier in real life.”
Jasmine offers him a lopsided, toothless grin—yet another quality she inherited from Joshua (the lopsided part, not the toothless).
His face lights up in response. He glances over at me, but can’t keep his gaze away from Jasmine for long. I know the feeling; she demands attention. We’re going to have our hands full when she’s older.
I gaze at the two of them, mesmerized by the bonding of father and daughter. When he speaks the words I’ve seen written in his handwriting so many times over the past year, my heart melts.
“I love you, Jasmine Mae Bennett. More than my own life.”
So, it seems to me that this series wasn’t as popular as I’d hoped, so I won’t be doing another story at this time. If you guys decide you want another one, just let me know. You can do that by commenting on any post or shooting me an email to ladybugdaydreams (at) gmail (dot) com.