Upstate New York: 2002
I have known Jacob most of my life, but the first time I really noticed him was at a party when we were seventeen. My friend Eileen was throwing a party on her parent’s farm, and we were sitting around the bonfire just as the sun began to set. I looked up in the middle of Eileen telling a story about Mr. P in math class, and there he was. Just casually walking up the hill with his hands in his dark denim jeans and plain black t-shirt that hugged every hard muscle in his body. When did that happen? Maybe it was just the bright orange sky behind him, but something about him was different.
Jacob stopped his stride when he got to a group of his friends. I continued to stare in his direction, mesmerized by this new pull he had on me. As he laughed at something they were saying, he looked over and he caught me staring right at him. My cheeks flushed with embarrassment, but I still couldn’t look away from him. He continued to look at me, and I still tell people he looked so hard, he looked right into my heart. He smiled at me and the rest, as they say, is history.
The day Jacob turned 18, he walked in to the recruiter’s office and signed up for the army. He had known that was what he wanted to do since he was little. All the men in his family served their country, as well as, his mom. A sense of duty runs deep for him. His plan was to use his military benefits to go to college after serving to become a teacher. He knew he wanted to serve his country before serving his hometown. That was just the way he was. He always had a lot to give to everyone around him, including me. He was a very loving and compassionate man, and I loved him because of it.
My path was a little different. My parents encouraged me to go to college at a young age, and so I went off to college immediately after graduating high school. Although despite my parents being accountants, it was my dream to become a writer, so I chose a creative writing program at the state college. Everyone said that once I went off to college and he was shipped off, we would go our separate ways as most young love does, but it never crossed our minds. Even though Jacob and I were on different paths, our love continued to flourish. He always encouraged me even if that took us away from each other. He wanted me to be happy.
I started classes at Rutgers University the same day that Jacob started his training. He quickly surpassed the expectations of all his commanding officers and was shipped off to a country in the middle east. Our senior year of high school was the year that the Twin Towers in New York had been attacked, so we knew that he was serve a real tour when he enlisted.
Although it was hard being apart, the separation only brought us closer. We began writing letters, which sounds so old fashion, but played to my strengths. I would write love letters to practice my prose, but it turns out that Jacob had a set of writing skills all his own. He never failed to amaze me in his abilities. His words filled my heart and made me yearn to see him once again. A month before he was due to come home on a quick break, I received a very unexpected package from him. He had never sent gifts before. There was a card on top of the box. Inside it read:
My dearest Charlotte,
Every day I am in harm’s way, but remembering that you are home waiting for me helps me get through it all. I think about your piercing green eyes, a smile that makes the world around you a happy place, and every scintillating word we have shared since I left. I yearn to be near you. I am so proud of the person you are and who you want to be. With every word I write to you, I want to show you how much you mean to me. I love you! Will you make me the luckiest person in the world and marry me?
Love Forever Yours,
As I stood there with tears in my eyes, I was awestruck. This was very unexpected. I mean we had never even discussed this. My body vibrated with happiness. I didn’t want him to wait for my answer, but I was unsure how to reach him quickly. He was not always available when I tried to call him due to his missions. The only way I know I could reach him was through a mailed letter. My answer could take weeks to reach him.
Just then my doorbell rang. Still in a fog, I walk over to answer the door. Jacob was kneeling in front of me holding a ring that I recognized. It was a very beautiful ring that was an heirloom in my family.
“How did you…When did you…What?” I said looking down at him.
“Charlotte Jane Schmitt, will you marry me?” he said to me.
To be continued…