Ch. 50 Survivor's Guilt

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A few weeks later, I was at home. I was visiting with Kelly and Melanie. They'd come into town to see how Jake was doing.

He was fine. He was downstairs, watching some sporting event.

The doorbell rang.

I stood and got it.

Two men in uniform stood at the door.

"Ma'am, is this the Hamilton household?"

"It-It is. Should I get my husband?" I asked, caught off guard.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Please, come in."

They stepped in.

I went to the door to downstairs. "Jake, there are officers here."

A minute later, he came into view. He slowly came up the steps and sighed. He was in a grey shirt and jeans. He looked so relaxed. Jake turned to the men.

They saluted him.

He did it back and asked, "What can I do for you?"

They handed him an envelope.

He opened it. "Okay. This is just a paper saying that I'm no longer on active duty overseas and that I can't be again."

I nodded.

"Sir, there's one other thing," one of the men spoke.

We looked up at them.

They handed him another envelope.

Jake opened it, but didn't say anything.

"What is it?"

He looked at the men. "Thank you, gentlemen."

They saluted each other.

The men left.

I turned to Jake. "What is it?"

He shook his head.

"What?"

He went into the kitchen and went to the stove. He was about to light the paper on fire.

I snatched it from him.

"Bridget-"

I looked at the paper.

They wanted to give Jake a Medal of Honor--two, actually; the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

My eyes widened. I looked at him. "Why are you so distraught over this?"

"Because I don't want them. I don't deserve them. It's not like I died over there, Bridget. I didn't do shit. I left early, because I was weak."

"You left because you nearly died."

"They could've stitched me up."

"Jake, you would have died. Had you stayed, you-"

"At least that would have been worth it. At least I would have done something."

Hang on. What?

He reached for the paper. "Bridget, give me the damn papers."

"No."

"Bridget."

"No. You're not thinking clearly, Jake."

"Yes, I am." He grabbed my arm tightly, holding me still, and grabbed the paper.

"What's going on in here?" Kelly asked, walking in.

"Jake is being awarded a couple of medals and he wants to burn the papers."

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