After a solemn dinner, Kate dropped Lauren and Judy off at their hotel, and shortly after put Sarah to bed and thought seriously about signing her papers to get out of the Air Force. She decided to go for it. With her mind made up to take the early out, she slept peacefully.
In the morning, she requested the paperwork from Sergeant Thompson. “Are you sure? You only have a few months left.”
“I know, but what’s the point? I have Sarah to think about now and it guarantees I don’t have to leave on TDY or deploy.”
He nodded. “It doesn’t make me happy, but I understand. I’ll get the forms to you this afternoon. I’m on my way to a briefing.”
“Thanks.” Glad that was over with, she went to her office and tackled the next pile sitting there. She felt like she was in charge again, and that made her feel a whole lot better. It wasn’t just herself she had to think about anymore. She was a mom now and that was the most important role she had. And she would do whatever she needed to protect her new charge and give her what she needed.
Sergeant Thompson must have left her papers on her desk while she was delivering some reports to another office in the building. There was a sticky note with the message, “We’ll miss you.” She took them with her and drove off base to a local café so it was quiet for her to think and concentrate. She munched on a chicken salad while she filled them out.
Once Kate arrived back to work, she turned in her paperwork. She scrawled on his original note, “Thanks” and heaved a sigh of relief as she walked back to her office. That done, she felt a huge weight lift from her shoulders. After the paperwork got approved, she would start looking for a job and another daycare center for Sarah unless Mrs. P wanted to watch Sarah full-time.
She hummed through the rest of her day, then went home to Sarah. “Hi, I’m home,” she called after shutting the door. Buttons came running, jumping on her uniform. “Down, boy,” she said, laughing. Next, Sarah came running. “Hi, honey. How was your day?” she picked her up.
“Good. I make ‘nakes and ‘tars with Play Doh (R).”
“Really? That sounds like fun.” Kate turned as Spencer joined them in the entryway. “How did your day go?”
“Great.” Spencer was in his ‘play clothes’, an old t-shirt and jeans.
“Good to hear it.” Kate put Sarah down and she ran off to play. Kate headed to the kitchen and Spencer followed. Kate opened the fridge and grabbed the lemonade. She gestured to Spencer, but he didn’t want any. She took a clean glass from the cupboard, poured and said, “I put in my paperwork, so we’ll see.”
“Are you sure about that?” He leaned on the counter, a look of concern on his face.
“Yep. I feel so much better. I have to think about Sarah now.” Spencer came close and rubbed her shoulders. “I understand. I’ll help you anyway I can.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it. Are you leaving now?” She returned the pitcher to the fridge.
“I better. I brought my uniform, so I’ll change before I go.”
“All right, have a good night.” Kate knew he’d be tired tonight, but he called her earlier and said he was able to go home and nap while Sarah was with Mrs. P.
Kate walked to the living room to see what Sarah was doing. She was having a little tea party with her dishes. Bo-Bo was sitting on a blanket with some tea and some sort of imaginary snack on a plate. “Can I have some tea?”
“Sure. With sugar?”
“Yes, please.” Kate sat down beside the bear and stretched her legs out. As she unlaced her boots, she thought about their future and how much more secure it should be to stay stateside and home. Whatever job she considered, couldn’t include any kind of travel. She thought she should be able to find something on the base. “Thank you,” she said to Sarah. “It’s very good.” She gave her a smile and rubbed her soft head. Spencer had done a good job in choosing her outfit this morning.
Next weekend they were all going to the St. Louis Zoo, and Kate was looking forward to it. Sarah didn’t know yet, in case it rained or something at the base came up. She didn’t want to get her hopes up for nothing. Kate remembered waiting for her mother’s return when she left. A month later, she realized she wasn’t. Now she was mindful not to excite Sarah until moments before any major event so as not to spoil it.
Spencer joined them, now in his uniform. “I’m off to save the world,” he said.
Sarah looked up briefly and said, “Bye, Mr. Daddy.”
Spencer grinned at her. “Bye, Sarah, you be good and I’ll see you later, okay?”
She nodded as she gave her bear more tea.
Kate walked Spencer to the door. “Thank you for watching her,” she gave him a hug. And a kiss.
“You’re welcome. We had fun. I’ll see you later.” He gave her another kiss on the cheek and walked out the door.
Until next time,