I told Kally to turn her blog over to me today, because I have something to say and, well, she's busy catching up on baking and getting ready to go to be with her mother and family for a few days to celebrate Christmas. I'm afraid I was a harsh taskmaster the last two months as she worked on Nobody's Hero, which now has been released to my great satisfaction. Karla and I are well pleased with how Kally has shared our story, even if Kally--and Karla--did put me through emotional hell to get to that ending all you romance readers expect, albeit with some unexpected surprises, I'm sure. There sure were lots of surprises for me, at least. I will say Kally has me under strict orders--NO SPOILERS, whatever that means. She said to just say it and her readers would know.
But yesterday I was reading Facebook postings over Kally's shoulder (old habits are hard to break and I've been reading over her shoulder a couple months now, but I'll try to be less intimidating to her for a while--soon). Anyway, I know not everyone experiences joy during the holidays, especially those missing loved ones through physical separation both temporary and permanent. I learned during my decades serving in the Marine Corps how hard it is to be separated from family during the holidays. Joni and I missed so many Christmases while I was deployed to Kosovo, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
I want to say to those who are deployed this year, thank you for your service. There is nothing more satisfying to know you have served your country. Sometimes it seems as if the mission is impossible, but just keep fighting on. And to family members of those deployed, waiting for them at home is even harder on you than it is them. Military personnel stay so busy, it's hard to sit and dwell on those they're missing, but you have to deal with keeping the family strong and the household running day in and day out. Sometimes Joni would get depressed this time of year. If you're feeling down, lonely, or overwhelmed, don't hesitate to ask others in your family or community to help. Keep the faith until you are reunited with your loved ones.
But I learned in 2002 that sometimes we don't get to reunite again in this life. When I lost Joni to cancer in early November that year, if it wasn't for a neon-pink haired teenager who rescued me from a very lonely Thanksgiving, I'm not sure I'd have survived my next deployment. But for many years to come, especially after I retired from the Corps, the light went out for me and the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's became torture. I tended to just let the co-owners at my club pick up the slack for me and wallowed in regrets about all I hadn't been or done for my loved one while she was here.
It didn't help that Joni always made Christmas special and that this was her favorite holiday of all. She'd even postpone it for when I was home sometimes, just to be able to share it with me. I, of course, was more interested in being with her than in trimming the tree, but one memory I'll always have is of her placing her special angel tree topper on our tree. I usually had to hold her steady--okay, that part of tree decorating I enjoyed (as well as what usually came after). Recently, I found that angel again--and with Karla also rediscovered the light and joy of the Christmas season. I am more blessed than one man deserves to be.
This year, I hope you will find special Christmas magic, too. No, it may not be that you'll be with the ones you love, or that you will have even found that special person yet. But the magic and miracles are there if you look for them--or do something to create them. As those of you who read her posts on Facebook know, Kally and her family will be celebrating their Christmas miracle, which happened earlier this week when they got their first good news since April--knowing there's hope and that the surgeons have a plan to eradicate the cancer riddling her sister's body with the expectation the radical surgery will cure her and give her many more years of health.
I know others are struggling with similar losses and struggles this year. But try to look for hope and joy around you. One of Kally's beta readers shared on Facebook yesterday that she was on an EMT run with a woman who had no hands and no legs, but was the happiest most joyous person she'd met in a long while. It's all about attitude--and mine stunk for the last few years, as I'm sure Marc and Damian would tell you (if I'd let them on here).
What I'm trying to say is that it's not the circumstances of the situation that make you happy or sad--it's your attitude and how you look at it. I was quite a bear to those around me during the holidays after Joni died, because I missed her so much it hurt. I tried to fill the void by reaching out to the families of a couple of the men I lost in Afghanistan and Iraq to try to make their holidays better.
This year, I hope you will find your joy in the holidays (whichever holidays you celebrate), no matter your circumstances. Help someone in need, call a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in a long while, visit someone who might be feeling lonely and forgotten, and always hold close to your heart those you love, whether they're still in this world or waiting for you in the next. Just never take the ones who are here for granted or forget to tell them you love them. If they aren't physically here with you any longer, they are still with you, in your heart and memories.
That is all. No, wait...
That is all. No, wait...
Merry Christmas and a
happy, healthy New Year from
the Masters at Arms Club family!
Master Sergeant Adam Montague, USMC Retired
The original cover:
The current cover (as of May 2014):
I love them both!
Nobody's Hero (Rescue Me Saga #2) is available as an individual book at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and All Romance eBooks. It's also part of the 3-book box set (a savings of $4.99 or equivalent). And Master Adam says you MUST read in order, starting with the combined volume Book One: Masters at Arms & Nobody's Angel (which comes before Hero), or you will be lost and confused (not unlike him through most of Nobody's Hero). He and Karla began their journey toward a "happily ever after" ending in that book nine years ago Thanksgiving, then they reunited in July and continued the journey when Karla arrived from New York reeling from a tragic loss and wound up in the arms of Master Adam. Since then, there have been lots of highs and lows ahead, and they continue in Nobody's Hero, but love will prevail if Karla and Kally have anything to say about it! You can find a listing of all my books, the reading order, a printable list, and all the buy links at http://kallypsomasters.com/books.