Five Things You Won't Learn About Colonel Will Sheppard from The Best Things in Life Are Free
1. Will Sheppard had no intention of going into the Air Force. He was the first in his family to go to college and he wanted to design cars. But then one day, the campus recruiter said, "Wouldn't you rather design airplanes?"
He learned to fly and that he was a natural leader and he never did design airplanes.
2. After that mission he doesn't talk about, he was going to resign his commission. But they gave him a medal that he keeps in the safe and can't wear and flies his family into Germany. He made love to his wife for the first time in seven months, in a little hotel room, with their five-year-old son asleep in the other room, and Will mufflings his gasps in the skin of her neck and shoulder. She gets him through that week and his next assignment is a nice, safe, stateside teaching assignment. He says he's going to quit after that, but she just kisses his temple and tells him to take it one day at a time and when that tour is up, he just goes to the next one and nothing more is said.
He knows that he's one bad mission away from retirement because she's not there to catch him anymore.
3. John was a quiet little boy and after they'd moved three times, he didn't seem to make friends easily. Will enrolled him in sports and pushed him to make friends, but not because he wanted a perfect son.
He was just afraid John was unhappy and that it was his fault.
4. This is how he found out his wife was dying:
He had been sent home in the first wave, which pissed him off because he liked to be the last man out. She had sent John to a friend's house for the night and he's glad John is making friends again. When she sits him down on their bed and tells him about the cancer, he asks a lot of questions - it takes him a little too long to realize that this is already ordained, that his wife is going to die. He wants to talk treatment and chances and she's telling him that there pretty much are none. Then he's angry, not at God or life or the military, but at her for waiting to tell him and he wants to ask what would have happened if she'd fallen ill when John was there, if she'd endangered him by trying to keep going until Will got home instead of calling for help, and mostly for sounding resigned to abandoning her son to a life with Will as his only parent because they were a team and he's the weak link - there's no way he can do it himself.
But before he can really work up the steam to be angry and say something nasty, it hits him, that his wife, his partner, his love is going to be gone soon. Gone, and he missed so much time, thinking he'd make it up to her later. So he sits on the bed and gathers her against him and strokes her hair and kisses her forehead and murmurs calming phrases that are more for him than her. And then she starts to undo his necktie and unbutton his shirt and he shrinks back but she just laughs and kisses him. "I'm not going to break," she says, drawing him down with her. "I want..." And he does everything she asks and more, because he hasn't given her nearly enough in their life together.
In less than a month, she'll be too weak to squeeze his hand.
5. The Colonel is really looking forward to the day (in the future, he's in no hurry, really) when John settles down. He just wants to be invited over for dinner and hey, it would be nice to have some grandkids to spoil.
But he'll take what he can get.