Author's Note: This story is based off of real events.
The day that I was informed of such horrifying news was the day before Christmas: Christmas Eve. First, let me start at the beginning. I was in South Carolina, joining my dad to celebrate Christmas. The court order said that I was to be switched every "major" holiday. My parents had split up when I was too little to even remember such events. Some of his family friends were coming up from Alabama to visit. I always enjoyed their company, for they were funny and helpful to all of my questions and needs. We often referred to them as family.
It was the 23rd and my dad, stepmother (Tammy), and I were eating cereal in the dining room. We usually had quiet breakfasts, because we were still tired from a good night's rest. We put our bowls into the sink and then we all sat down in the living room. We turned on the TV and started watching "America's Funniest Home Videos". We shared multiple laughs and decided to shift gears and do some sort of activity - since we didn't have forever to see each other. We went out to play some tennis in the neighborhood court a few hours later. It was me and my stepmother against my dad. We kicked his butt, enough said. We walked back home and enjoyed a sandwich and some chips. It was 1:00 when we had finished. We went upstairs to play the Wii. We were only trying to find something to do while we waited for the others. After dad beat us in Mario Kart, we picked out a card game to play downstairs. We had all agreed on Skip-Bo. We were waiting for our family friends while we played. "Do you think that they have already had something for dinner?" Tammy asked. "I doubt it," Dad replied. "What do you think we all should eat?" Tammy asked. "Since I got an Outback gift card, I was thinking that we could have a nice dinner there," Dad said. "What a great idea!" Tammy said, "And what if they have already eaten?" "Then me and Trent could maybe get us some takeout," Dad replied, "If it's okay with Trent." He looked over to me. "Oh yeah, I don't mind," I said a little "too" fast. We continued our game and at 5:00 p.m., they had arrived in our driveway.
"Hey!" We started, "How was the trip?" Grandma replied, "Oh the usual. Just a few hours of driving to see you wonderful people." There were only three who had come: Grandma, Gramps, and Uncle Steven. The other three, Aunt DeeAnne, Uncle Brent, and Cameron, were not able to come. Aunt DeeAnne was eight months pregnant and couldn't travel such a distance. "Have you had anything to eat for dinner?" Dad asked. "No, we were waiting to enjoy a delicious dinner with all of you!" Grandma replied. "Well we were thinking that if you guys hadn't had anything to eat, we would take you out to Outback," Dad said. "That would be so good!" Uncle Steven said. We walked the three into the house and got ready to go out to eat at Outback. There, we took our seats and ordered our drinks. "How are things in Alabama?" Tammy asked. "We have been so frantic, trying to get the baby's items situated. You know, they always like me to babysit." Grandma replied. It was true. Grandma didn't work, so she became a babysitting victim. Uncle Steven can't find work because he had an illness that gave him multiple seizures. When he had medicine, he acted perfectly normal, but for some reason people still wouldn't employ him. So Uncle Steven and Grandma usually watched Cameron, my cousin who was diagnosed with Autism and was a social outcast, after school.
We ordered our food and had some more discussions on our lives. "So, Trent. Do you have any girlfriends, yet?" Uncle Steven asked with a wink. "Uncle Steven, Dad and Tammy would have already told you if I had one or not. So the answer is no," I replied with a blush. "Oh well. There will be someone soon, I predict. Maybe in high school." Uncle Steven said in a joking manner. "I hope so," I simply reply with a hopeful smile. I had hardly gotten over what had happened with my ex girlfriend. I found her kissing someone else in the hallway. We fought all that night and I decided to just end it with her. I tuned in to the other conversation between the rest of the crew. "What's the plan for Christmas Eve?" Gramps asked. "We plan to make ornaments and all of that other cool stuff we usually do," Tammy replied. "Yep! I wonder what gifts you guys got me," Dad said while he looked at me and Tammy. "Oh you'll just have to see, Pops!" I told him jokingly, "I do think that you'll like it though." "Well I hope you like your gifts as well, kiddo." Dad said.
Our food arrived and we munched on it as we carried on our conversations. "This steak is absolutely wonderful!" Gramps exclaimed, "I wish we had such a wonderful Outback like this at home." We all finished up and paid for our food. When we arrived at home, it is already 8:00. "Well that was a wonderful meal," I said, "Thank you for taking us, Dad." "Any time for such a wonderful family," Dad replied. We all gathered around in the kitchen and took a few pre-Christmas pictures. Then we sat and watched TV while we waited to get tired. It was 11:00 and I was pooped. I went upstairs to my bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. Everyone came upstairs and said their good-night's. I wished them good-night and set my sleep timer on my TV for 30 minutes; I could't stand sleeping in silence. Only fifteen minutes passed by and I drifted off to sleep.
I wpke up at 8:00 and decided to rest just a little while longer. At 8:15, I got up and went downstairs to see my dad. "How was your sleep?" Dad asked. "Amazing," I simply replied, "How about yours?" "It was okay, I guess," He replied in a somewhat dull mood. We were the first to wake. "Want to help me make egg and cheese biscuits for everyone?" Dad asked. "Sure," I simply replied. By the time that we finished all of the biscuits, everyone was awake and hungry. We dished out food and sat in the dining room. Everyone made small talk about work and other adult-related themes in which I was not interested in. We finished and everyone entered the living room and we started to watch "Family Feud". "Trent," Dad said, "Tammy and I would like to speak with you for a little bit outside." "Okay," I replied. We went into the back yard porch and Dad said something to me that forever goes through my head to this day:
"Trent, I'm going to Afghanistan."