"When life held troubled times and had me down on my knees
there's always been someone there to come along and comfort me.
A kind word from a stranger to lend a helping hand.
A phone call from a friend just to say I understand.
And ain't it kind of funny that at the dark end of the road.
Someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope"
Angels Among us
Letting Go: Chapter 6 - I'm Sorry…Continued.
Zack had always been able to keep his emotions in check. Being a solider you had no choice but too. Yet he found as he continued to read this letter all his resolve melted away and he began to cry.
His vision growing blurry as each new drop hit the white piece of parchment that held all his brother's thoughts and fears. All those months with no word, not a single line or signature that showed Cody even remembered he had a brother.
Zack had found himself resenting his younger twin, and feeling abandoned and hurt by his brother's actions. Battles surrounded him and filled his days with chaos and danger; his nights were filled with thoughts of his family, but mostly of Cody.
So many questions still lingered unresolved in his mind. Cody had made it clear that if he were to leave, he would never be forgiven. But his heart was conflicted, one part of him knew that this is where he belonged, this was who he was. But the other part took into account his brother's arguments.
Was he really being selfish? Had he really given much thought to how his family would feel if anything were to happen to him? In those dark hours before sleep, those were the questions that haunted him the most. He continued to wipe the wet substance from his cheeks as his eyes adjusted to the words he read.
It's been a while, hasn't it? I take full blame, I just can't seem to get these words right. I have started and ended over a few dozen letters and they all sit in a top drawer of the desk in our room.
I wanted to send them out, but I just kept thinking that if I did it would mean I was saying goodbye, and I just couldn't bring
myself to do that.
I know you probably don't understand this, but as I wrote down each line, they seemed to cement your fate in my mind. I thought maybe if I left them in that drawer, you would be forced to return home to read them. Crazy thought, huh?
We were so close growing up and the thought of losing you terrified me. When you left it was as if a cord had been cut and the bond we share was shattered. I can't bear to see you hurting but I didn't want you to leave knowing I may have prevented something bad from happening.
I guess you could say I was being selfish and only thinking of myself, because the thought of never seeing that goofy smile of yours again broke my heart. I felt so lost and alone, and scared. I realized in those few moments on that basketball court how much you mean to me.
I need you in my life I need you to be beside me when the world becomes too much for me to handle. To cheer me on when I graduate from college, to stand beside me when I marry, to help raise my kids. I don't want them to miss out on knowing you, and having their crazy uncle Zack around.
I know we have our separate lives to live, but I just wish you hadn't chosen this one. Because it means that there is more of a chance I may lose you and all those dreams will never come to pass. You are the most important person in my life, and my life would be empty without you. I don't think there are enough doctors in the world to help patch up a hole that deep, or a heart that broken and shattered.
Please don't get me wrong, I am so, so very proud of you. I can't help but gloat at your accomplishments, and mom keeps me up to date on every single one. But I don't want to be given a serious of metals when you return home, or a folded up flag. I want you to carry them home; I want you to put up that flag, because without you both would be meaningless.
I miss you so much, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you, or pick up a picture of you. I was looking in the mirror the other morning and a thought occurred to me, I could always see a part of you, in that image, but suddenly you weren't there. And I had to take a step back because a loneliness like no other filled me, and it was hard to except it.
I guess being identical twins and somewhat mirror images of one another can make two people seem like one at times. I would guess some would be a little frightened by that thought, but not me, it was a comforting sight.
I always knew that the likeness staring back at me was me, but knowing there was a part of you in there somewhere, made me feel less…sad. I hope this makes sense, because I am not sure if I'm explaining this right, but somehow I think you know what I mean.
I wonder sometimes if we still have that connection, if it indeed isn't broken but simply lost. I was doing my homework one night and I swear I heard you call my name. I don't know, maybe this was all in my imagination, yet I knew somewhere deep down you've had the same experiences.
I need you to come home safely, I need you to take care of yourself so that you can live a long happy life and perhaps outlive me, of course preferably we'll be old farts sitting in our rocking chairs and trying to remember our own names when that time comes. But I can see that happening.
I love you so much bro, please, please come home. Life just isn't the same without you.
Just then there was a knock on the door and Zack couldn't help but feel a little saddened when Nat and his mother walked in, for he'd hoped it was his little brother. As soon as they saw the tears flowing down his face a concerned looked appeared across their features.
"Honey, what's wrong?" Carey cried rushing over to sit beside him. "Are you hurting should I get a doctor?"
"No, I'm just reading a letter." Zack cleared his throat trying to keep his emotions in check. But somehow that didn't seem so important anymore. "Mom, could you ask Cody to come in?"
"I'll go," Nat announced. "I think he may be in the chapel."
"Just please get him for me." Zack cried. "And Nat, thanks for everything."
Nat nodded and left the room in search of his friend's brother.
"Mom, I missed you." Zack cried as Carey wrapped her arms around him and let him cry on her shoulder. "I missed you both so much, war is hell on earth."
Carey let her son cry and felt him release all those feelings he had buried inside him for so long. He clinged to her as he did when he was a child, and she had comforted him after a horrifying nightmare and this was no different.
She couldn't imagine what her oldest son went through, and she knew she never would be able too. But that didn't matter anymore because he was home again, and her sleepless nights would be few and far between, because she knew he would be safe.
Nat found the sign marked chapel and entered the two double doors. He spent quite a few hours in this place when he returned and was recuperating from his injuries, taking comfort in the small room with a cross overlooking the pew's that sat before it.
He didn't have to search long to find the person he'd been looking for. Sitting in the back row tears filling his eyes was Cody wounded and hurt. He'd never been good at giving a pep talk so he simply sat beside him and waited for him to speak.
"I hurt him, I didn't mean to." Cody stated through his tears. "Now he can't even look at me."
"He loves you," Nat stated. "But hurt takes time to heal."
"Do you have a specific time frame you can give me?" Cody halfheartedly joked. "Because I'd really like to know how long that takes, even how long it takes to forgive for that matter."
"I'm sure Zack forgives you already." He told him as Cody placed his head in his hands.
"I know he does, but how long will it be before I can forgive myself?" Cody asked wiping another tear from his cheek. "I made leaving hard on him, and worst of all I cut myself off from him completely. What kind of a brother does that? I was so afraid to see him hurt physically that I refused to see the emotional impact my silence was causing him."
"That was a mistake, but it's over and you're here now." Nat said putting a hand on his shoulder for support. "That's all that really matters. The past is the past, it can't be undone, what you have is here and now, and depending on what you do with it, it will determine your future."
"How did you become such a philosopher?" Cody smiled.
"I guess I just learned to look beyond all the death and destruction and believe that there is something more out there, something bigger than us. That all this suffering has a purpose and we just need to look beyond it at what's good and pure." He stated. "Like the relationship you have with your family. Trust in that, trust in the fact that no matter what happens, your family will always love you, and understand."
"You're right, but if I may make a suggestion, I think it's time to forgive yourself?" Cody stated.
In his time of trying to help his best friend and his brother, he had almost forgotten about his own family.
"Seth I am sure would have been proud of you, but you need to live your life for you, and not anyone else." Cody continued. "That's what this whole situation taught me, that even though your family loves you and will always be there for you, in the end you determine your own path and let the people around you determine theirs, with a little help from up above that is. Let the past go, let it rest in peace."
"You are a very smart man you know that?" Nat smiled. "Take care of one another, a bond like yours doesn't come along every day."
Cody gave the man a slight hug and the oddest feeling came over him. A sense of peace, almost as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. And in that moment he knew this man was someone special.
"I think I should go and see Zack now." He stated getting up. "Thanks, you are truly heaven sent." He added with a smile finally leaving the small chapel.
Nathan sat in silence and an overwhelming feeling of happiness washed over him. A tall man in a uniform walked over and sat down beside him smiling as well.
Cody walked into Zack's room hesitantly, not wanting to disturb the tender moment between his mother and brother. But as soon as Zack saw him he smiled and beckoned him to them, in the next moment all three were holding one another in a strong embrace, tears flowing freely as they reunited.
Cody laid down next to his brother as Carey sat beside them, taking comfort in the closeness the three shared. She smiled at the two men she had helped to raise and felt an tremendous sense of pride. Her two little boys had become caring, kind hearted and loving adults and she knew that her prayers had been answered.
She turned around expecting to see Nat so she could thank him for bringing them together, but realized he wasn't in the room. Figuring he must still be in the chapel she gave her twins another hug, just as a nurse quietly walked in to check up on Zack's vital signs. Satisfied with the results she was about to leave when Carey stopped her.
"Excuse me, but is there any way you could do me a favor," She asked. "I know you're probably busy, but my son's friend is in the chapel down the hall, is there any way you could ask him to return."
"Of course." She smiled. "What's his name?"
"Oh, I'm sorry his name is Nathan Bryers." Carey smiled only to see confusion cross the other woman's face. "Are you alright?"
"I'm sorry, what's his name?" she asked. "I'm not sure if I heard you correctly."
"Nathan Bryers, Private Nathan Bryers." Carey repeated as Cody and Zack were now eyeing the nurse with concern. "Is something wrong?"
"I'm sorry you must be confused," She exclaimed a bit shocked. "Nathan Bryers died last week from injuries he sustained in Afghanistan."
"But, that's impossible he's the one that brought us here." Cody told her. "You must be mistaken."
Everyone in the room looked perplexed at the news they had just been given.
"I know it was him, I was there when the doctor signed his body over to the morgue." She stated. "I remember, because his dying wish was to be buried in Arlington next to his brother."
And with one final apology she walked out of the room leaving the three occupants in silence. So many thoughts filled their minds, so many questions without answers.
But as they took a hold of one another's hands and sent up a prayer to their friend, they concluded that sometimes there didn't need to be an explanation.
The world was truly filled with miracles and God had sent them an angel to help them find their way home to one another. With one final glance upward, Zack wished his friend a fond farewell and a very heartfelt thank you.
"You did good little brother." Seth exclaimed as he draped an arm over his brother's shoulders. "I'm very proud of you."
"Zack did so much for me; I wanted to return the favor." Nat told him. "Everything will be fine now, I finished my mission."
"Then by all means grandma's pie is waiting." Seth laughed at the surprised look on his brother's face. "What, it's your favorite, and what's heaven without her famous apple pie."
"Then you're right, we better get moving." Nat smirked. "I hear great uncle Albert has a mean appetite."
The two figures stood, still laughing as they headed up to the altar, Nat turned one final time and listened to Zack's voice.
"You're Welcome my friend." He then turned his attention to his older brother once more, as they headed home and disappeared from view.
An: All finished, I want to thank everyone for sticking with me through this story. Through you're encouraging reviews I decided to change the ending a bit. Originally this story was to be four chapters and Zack had died at the end. Nat was there as an angel to help the Martins deal with their loss. But now I am so glad you convinced me too change this because I think this may be one of my favorites, and all you're reviews and comments made it possible for me to continue. So thank you all for your kindness and support! :)
I would like to send a special thank you to Tiger002 for all his thoughts and advice. As well as Elianna22 for all her thoughts as well. :)
As for the idea it originally came about after hearing a song called "Angels among us" by Alabama so please take a listen when you get a minute, it's a really touching and heartwarming song. If you are interested there's an amazing version on you tube under the title "Alabama Angels Among us….Hero's Tribute" this video was sent to me by Tiger002 and is definitely worth watching but I warn you, you may want to keep a tissue handy. Until next time Take Care!
Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love.
To guide us with the light of love.