tagRomanceI Believe in Miracles

I Believe in Miracles


October 20th - Kandahar Valley, Afghanistan

Finally, mail from home. Scott hadn't received any correspondence from home since his outfit deployed to Afghanistan two months ago in late August. Grabbing the half dozen letters he headed toward the tent he shared with five other Marines. Of six return addresses on the envelopes three were from his mom and dad, two from his younger sister and only one from Stephanie. That was disappointing, maybe there would be more tomorrow now that the mail had finally caught up to the outfit.

Saving the one letter from Stephanie until last he quickly read through the ones from his family. Mom's letters were typical mom to son letters. Everything was fine at home although his father still worked too many hours at the office. She was still active in the church ladies group sending cards and gift boxes to the troops overseas. Mom closed each letter with. "We love you and are praying for your safe return." The first letter from his sister, Robin, was full of stories about her return to college that semester, how great the football team was doing and a description of her latest boyfriend.

Robin's second letter was not as much fun to read. She spoke of seeing Stephanie several times in the last several weeks. Stephanie was always with the same guy, Kyle Johnson. Robin was not happy about seeing them together, but she didn't go into any details. She closed her letter with "hurry home, you are missed."

Opening Stephanie's letter he began to read.

September 17th

Dear Scott

I know of no other way of saying this but I have been dating another guy ever since you left. I ran into Kyle Johnson in the hospital cafeteria during my lunch break from the emergency room. One thing lead to another and he asked me to dinner and I accepted. That Saturday we went to Cafe Max and he told me that he saw you at the Hilton the night before you deployed. Remember, that was the night that I had to work overtime in the emergency room because of the school bus accident that sent so many young kids to our trauma unit.

Anyway, Kyle told me he saw you sitting in the bar. He said you told him you were waiting for me. That's when your cell phone rang. It was me telling you I would be at least two hours, or more, late meeting you. I know you were unhappy, but there was nothing I could do about it.

It was then that Kyle left you to join some friends at another table. He told me that he saw Susan Morgan come into the lounge and sit next to you at the bar. Then he told me that he saw you walk her to the reception desk, get a room key and go up with her in the elevator.

I didn't want to believe it but then I remembered how cold and distant you seemed to be with me when I finally met up with you three hours later.

Kyle has been more than a dear friend to me and has told me quite a lot about some other things he saw you doing in the weeks before you left. How could you do that to me? I never want to hear from you again!

I have fallen in love with Kyle and he asked me to marry him. The wedding is October 12th. Don't bother sending a gift.


Scott sat on his rack stunned, tears rolling down his cheeks. He folded the letter and placed it in his shirt pocket under his flak jacket. Just as he opened his foot locker to take out a pad of writing paper the camp came under a barrage of rifle and automatic weapons fire. Grabbing his M-16 and helmet he ran to join his squad. For the next two hours the unit was engaged in a fierce fire fight with hundred or so insurgents. During the engagement Scott was hit several times and a tiny piece of shrapnel nicked his optic nerve and everything went black.

November 2nd - Ramstein, Germany

"Well Lieutenant it looks like we are shipping you home tomorrow to complete your recovery. The surgery went well and I believe we were able to repair that tiny nick to your optic nerve. I put your chances at about seventy-five percent that you will have your eyesight fully restored. We'll have to keep your eyes wrapped for a while before removing the bandages and then we will see how successful the operation was," The doctor continued saying. "The bullet wounds to your legs did considerable damage but that also should heal nicely. You will be in a wheelchair for the time being. But with extensive physical therapy you should be able to get around, unaided, without any trouble. One of your nurses will be in shortly to get you ready to leave. Good luck to you, son." And with that he left the room.

Thirty minutes later a pretty, young red haired nurse with green eyes entered Scott's room. "Hi Lieutenant Anderson. It's me Katelin, Katelin O'Hara. I see that they're sending you home tomorrow. You even get your own personal escort all the way to the veteran's hospital in your hometown. Want to guess who it is?" And then she quickly answered her own question, "Me!"

When Scott was first brought into the military hospital Katelin had been assigned to him. Katelin was the first nurse in a program, funded by a grant, from a large and influential consulting firm. The idea was that severely wounded service personnel would benefit from having one individual to provide them with physical and emotional support that was so important in their recovery. She took more than just a professional interest in him. She could see he was a good looking young man even under all the bandages covering his face and eyes. There was something about him that captivated her. He had a very positive attitude about his treatment and recovery. It was only when she brought up the subject of him going home and who might be waiting there for him did he become depressed and stopped talking.

One day, shortly after he arrived he asked about the uniform he had been wearing on the day he was admitted. She told him it was still there, hanging in the small closet along with his flak jacket and some of his personal belongings. He sighed and asked if there was still a letter in the shirt pocket.

When she retrieved the folded letter from the shirt said he needed to answer it and since he couldn't see would she please write it or him.

"Sure, no problem," She said as she sat next to his bed. "Fire away."

"First you need to read it while I think about what I want to say," he said.

As she began to read tears soon came to her eyes and then anger. How could anyone be so cruel to make accusations like this without hearing and considering any possible explanations.

Katelin began writing Scott's letter to Stephanie.

October 22nd

Dear Stephanie.

By now you may have heard what happened to me and I know you didn't want me to contact you. Let me begin by saying that there is nothing I can do or say can stop you from marrying Kyle. But I find it necessary to respond to some of the things he accused me of doing. Yes, I did secure a key from the reception desk with Susan. But it was a key to one of the banquet rooms on the second floor. You see Susan's mom and dad were already up there getting ready to set up and decorate for her engagement party. She came back down and saw me sitting at the bar and asked me to help her dad with some of the heavier boxes of liquor. I think you know her fiance, Thad Peterson.

Thad is an Ensign in the Navy and only had a two day pass before reporting for sea duty. He was on his way but was delayed by bad weather in Atlanta. So, Susan and her family were trying to have everything ready when their friends and he arrived. I helped them and I'm glad I did.

As far as being "cold and distant" with you, I apologize. I knew I would have to leave you for a very long time in less than 12 hours and I was feeling sorry for myself. But you seem to forget how annoyed you were with me when I spoke about our upcoming separation.

And what "other things" did Kyle tell you about me? I love you. I would never do anything to hurt you in any way.

I am not going to say anything about Kyle other than he has always had a problem with telling the truth. I know he has been after you for years and it looks like he finally got what he wanted. As you can see this letter is not in my handwriting. One of my nurses has been kind enough to write it for me as right now I cannot.

As far as a wedding gift goes I can only wish you the best.


P.S. My name is Katelin O'Hara. I am Lieutenant Anderson's nurse. He does not know I am adding this post script. You will never begin to fathom how much this man has sacrificed. I have sat with him many, many nights and listened to his tortured speech as he suffered through nightmare after nightmare always professing his love for you. You are one cruel and stupid bitch. Katelin did accompany Scott on the flight back to Jacksonville Naval Air Station and then on to the veteran's hospital in his home town. When he asked her why she replied, "I always wanted to live and work in Florida and I was just lucky enough to get a job at the hospital where you are being admitted." She didn't tell him that her father, who had considerable influence in the Department of Veteran Affairs, had seen to it that a position was made available to her.

November 4th - Malcom Randall Veterans Hospital, Gainesville, Florida

Scott and Katelin arrived late in the afternoon and after processing Scott was assigned a room and was moved into it. Scott's parents, John and Patricia Anderson, and his sister Robin were there waiting for him. After a lot tears, hugs and kisses the family sat down to catch up with all that had happened to Scott in the past few months. Katelin stayed in the background and only after Scott asked for her was her presence made known to the family. She explained what was going to take place over the next few days and that she would be there to look after Scott.

A little after seven that evening Doctor Schmidt entered the room. He explained in detail what Scott would be facing over the next several weeks and months. The bandages would removed from his eyes in a few days. He could start physical therapy as his leg wounds were healing nicely. Scott would be allowed to leave the hospital during the day time as long as he was accompanied by his nurse. Again, it was Katelin who was assigned this task.

On a Sunday afternoon the day before Scott's bandages were to be removed Scott's mom and dad decided to have a combination good luck/welcome home party for Scott. Scott's aunts and uncles along with his cousins and several friends and neighbors were invited to celebrate his homecoming. About four in the afternoon there was a knock at the door and Robin went to answer it. It was Stephanie standing there clutching Scott's letter.

"I would like to speak with Scott, if I may?" she asked.

"Why? Haven't you caused enough heart ache for him?" Robin replied.

"I've, I've come to apologize," she stammered. "I discovered that Kyle was, is, a liar. When I confronted him about everything he said, he became abusive and hit me."

"All right. Come in but make it quick and then get your ass out of here," Robin said as she turned and walked back into the house.

As Stephanie stepped into the room all conversation ceased and everyone looked at her, some with downright loathing, knowing what she had done to Scott.

"Scott, I am so sorry. How can I ever ask you to forgive me? The day after Kyle beat me I saw an attorney, got a restraining order and started divorce proceedings. I want to go back to the way things were before you left" she said as she knelt down in front of Scott's wheelchair and put her arms around him.

Standing behind Scott's wheelchair Katelin stood there with tears in her eyes and a look of sadness on her face. Katelin's reaction was not lost on Robin. Looking at her she immediately knew how much in love she was with her brother. Poking her mother she nodded toward Katelin. Mom's eyes said she had the same thought as Robin.

"I forgive you." Scott said with a smile on his face. "And, and . . ."

Before he could go any further Robin stepped between them and said, "I think it's time we were getting Scott back to the hospital. He has a long day ahead of him tomorrow. The bandages come off his eyes and we are praying his eyesight will return. Come on, Katelin, let me help you get him back into the van and I'll follow you to the hospital in my car".

Stephanie stepped back as family and friends surged forward to say good-bye and wish him well.

"I'll come by the hospital tomorrow. I want to be there when they take the bandages off and then we have a lot to talk about," Stephanie said as Katelin wheeled him out to the van.

Monday - November 14th

Monday morning Katelin wheeled Scott to the ophthalmologist's examination room. She left him there and went to a small conference room just down the hall. Inside the room she found Scott's parents, sister and Stephanie. Katelin explained that the bandage removal and subsequent tests would take about thirty minutes to complete and then Scott and his doctors would meet with them.

An hour passed before the door opened and Scott was pushed into the room by the eye specialist. The look on Scott's face and the fresh bandages covering his eyes said everything even before the doctor spoke.

"There is no change. He is still blind," Doctor Fletcher said. "I've ordered an MRI for this afternoon and perhaps that will give us some idea of what's going on."

Everyone was speechless. They had such high hopes that Scott would regain his sight. Katelin rose and stepped behind Scott's wheelchair and putting both hands on his shoulders began to gently massage the tension from his body. "OK. This is a setback but it is not the end. I'm sure Doctor Fletcher and his staff will be able to devise a another, more successful, treatment," she said.

Scott's parents and sister began offering positive comments in hope of raising Scott's spirits as they surrounded him.

Stephanie just sat in her chair. "I am not sure I can handle Scott being blind for the rest of his life. I mean, what am I going to do? I can't care for a blind man for the rest of my life," she said as she stood up and left the room.

"You bitch! Get the hell out of here!" Robin shouted after her. "Oh, Scotty everything is going to work out. I promise," she said softly to her brother.

Scott finally spoke, "I think I would like to go sit outside in the sunshine. Will you help me, Katelin?"

For the next hour and a half the family and Katelin sat in the court yard giving Scott all the love and support they could. Looking at her watch, Katelin announced that it was time for the MRI exam and they needed to go back inside.

After settling the family in the waiting room she pushed Scott down the corridor toward the MRI examination. Katelin and two techs placed him on the table that would slide him into the imaging machine. Before leaving him she bent down and kissed him and whispered into his ear, "Please don't worry. I am here for you and I'll always be here for you. I love you." She then rejoined the family in the waiting room.

When the exam was completed the MRI techs got Scott back into his wheelchair and the family, as well as Katelin, spent the remainder of the afternoon together.

Later, after mom, dad and Robin had left for the evening Scott and Katelin had a long conversation lasting well into the night.

The next morning after Scott had his breakfast and received a shave and a sponge bath by another of the nursing staff Katelin arrived. Putting him into his wheelchair she said, "we're going for a little ride to another wing of the hospital. There is someone I want you to meet."

After a short ride, with Katelin pushing him, they arrived at the Gait and Balance Clinic. "Scott meet Todd. He is going to begin with your physical therapy this morning. I am leaving you for a little while. Be back to get you later."

"Good morning Lieutenant. I went over your medical records and it looks like you and I are going to become close friends for the next several weeks. I won't lie to you, it's going to be rough. But, if you work hard I guarantee you will be standing and able to walk without crutches or a cane before Christmas. And if you work really, really hard you might even be able to going dancing on New Year's Eve," Todd said as he wheeled him over to the first of the progressive weight machines he would be exercising on that morning.

Two hours later Katelin returned. "Hey, big guy," she announced. "Are you ready to leave?"

"Damm, get me out of here! This guy is trying to kill me. If I could see him, I'd slug him," said an exhausted Scott with a grin on his face.

"Hey, it wasn't that bad. Just wait until tomorrow. That's when you're really going to get a workout, you big sissy," Todd chuckled as they left.

"Scott, they told me that they got the MRI results back. Let's go see Doctor Fletcher before lunch and hear what he has to say," Katelin said as they headed back toward the main building.

"Well, Scott I have some news. Some good and some bad," Doctor Fletcher began. "First the good. I went over the MRI results for hours last night and this morning. At first I couldn't see any reason why your eyesight has not returned. Your optic nerve has completely regenerated itself. As we went through the images, one layer at a time one of my MRI techs, Peter, noticed something. A small speck, about half the size of a grain of fine sand, appeared at level five of the images. It wasn't visible at level six and was not there at level four. Peter enlarged that image for me. We discovered that speck to be a tiny fragment of the original piece of shrapnel. Your body has been trying to isolate it by growing scar tissue, essentially a cyst around it. It's this cyst that is causing pressure on the nerve and preventing the return of your eyesight." "Can't you go back in and remove it?" Scott asked.

"It's not quite that simple," Doctor Fletcher replied. "The surgery is very tricky and complicated. There are only a few surgeons, three to be exact, in the U.S. that have the skill and expertise to to it. The one I'd recommend is Doctor Susan Lee at John Hopkins."

"Great." Katlin interjected, "can you get her to come and perform the surgery?" "Remember I said that there was good news and bad news. When I went to administration to secure permission to contact her to see if she would be willing to come down and help us they turned me down. No reason, just no. I think these bureaucrats only think of the bottom line. Too expensive."

Doctor Fletcher continued, "we'll appeal this, but it could take weeks, if not months, to reverse the decision. Time we don't have. As the cyst continues to grow it will completely destroy the nerve and then the blindness will be permanent." With this dreadful news hanging in the air, the doctor excused himself and left the room.

After several minutes of silence Scott said, "Katelin, please take me back to my room. I am not very hungry any more."

Once Scott was safely back to his room Katelin excused herself saying, "I'll be back shortly. I have to do something. I'll be back as soon as I can. I love you."

Once outside, Katelin tapped a number into her cell phone. When a voice answered she began speaking. "Hello, Andrea, it's me Katelin. I need to speak with my father. It is really important," she said, beginning to cry.

Andrea Phillips was one of Katelin's father's long time aides. She had been with him for close to thirty years. Had seen Katekin born and was there when Katelin's mother was killed by a drunk driver when Katelin was only five. Rather than placing her in a daycare center or with a nanny, Andrea had taken her home to spend time with her children who were about the same age while her father grieved and then returned to work.

"He's in a meeting with the President right now. I'll slip him a note and have him call you right back," Andrea replied.

She re-entered the conference room and passed Thomas O'Hara a note with just three words written on it. 'Katelin, important, crying.'

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