I was pregnant, lonely and scared...but not alone.
I eased my aching body onto the top step of the back porch and took a deep breath. Five months pregnant, I rarely left the house. I’d come outside for some fresh air—and some company. I felt lonely and scared. I half-hoped a neighbor would see me and ask if I was okay, show me someone cared. My husband, Bill, a Navy airman, usually did that. But today, like too many days, he’d been called away to the base.
I had no clue life as a military wife would be like this. I’d left family and friends behind to move into a tiny apartment in the back of an old wooden house in Hanford, California, 25 miles away from the base where Bill was stationed. He’d stay there two days for active duty, come home for a day, then leave again. I hadn’t made friends with the neighbors or the other military wives. There was only so much television I could watch before I felt the walls closing in. That’s when I’d go outside and sit under the shade of the veranda to clear my head, take my mind off my loneliness.
I breathed in deeply, ran my hand across my stomach. There was no relief in sight. Bill was scheduled for a ten month tour overseas in a few months—the Navy wouldn’t let him out of it, even for a pregnant wife. Bill worried that I’d have to go through childbirth and spend the baby’s first months alone. I worried too. If he couldn’t be here for me, who would?
A quiet, stern voice suddenly cut through my thoughts. Go back inside, now.
It wasn’t a neighbor’s voice. Not my husband. There was no one in sight. It was a struggle in my condition to stand up quickly, but that’s what I did. I turned around, opened the front door, stepped inside. The door slammed behind me.
What was that? I spun on my heels and peered through the window in the front door.
Splintered wood and roofing tiles hung from above, the porch was covered in sharp, heavy chunks of debris. The porch roof had collapsed—right where I’d been sitting moments before.