WHAT’S YOUR STORY: Laughary’s Story: Soul mates

Zach Mills

Ernest Hemingway wrote an inspiring story about war, love and loss, romance and heartbreak in “A Farewell to Arms.”

As America stands on the brink of another possible war, Stephanie Laughary, a senior from Webster County, is experiencing those same emotions and has had to say a very painful farewell.

She had to say goodbye to the love of her life, her knight in shining armor — her best friend.

Laughary’s boyfriend of almost two years was deployed from his military base at Fort Campbell to Kuwait last Sunday.

It will be six months to a year before Laughary will get the possibility of seeing him again.

Laughary met Darren Pleskach, of Modesto, Calif., at a Nashville night club July 3, 2001, and the two have been together ever since.

“It was an instant connection,” Laughary said. “Something clicked the night we met. We had a lot of the same values and interests … We’re soul mates!”

Last Sunday at about 7:30 a.m. Laughary said farewell. Their last few moments together were spent encouraging each other and discussing plans for the future.

“He’s planning on proposing when he gets back,” Laughary said. “He kept telling me that things would be OK, and that he’d be home … and that he loved me.”

Just before Pleskach got on the bus to go to Fort Campbell’s air field, Laughary slipped a letter in his pocket with instructions not to read it until he was on the plane.

Laughary’s soul mate is an infantry scout. At age 22, Pleskach is a staff sergeant and the leader of his team. Although his job is dangerous, Laughary fully supports him.

“I’m very, very proud of who he is and what he’s doing for the country,” Laughary said. “That makes it easier.”

Faith has also made Laughary’s farewell to Pleskach a little easier.

“I’m a very spiritual person, so I pray a lot,” she said.

And she said the Christian bond she shares with her boyfriend is extremely helpful.

“We both know that we can lean on God for strength,” she said. “He is real. One way or another, Darren will come home. He’ll come home to me, or he’ll come home to God. And I have comfort in that.”

Laughary also deals with her current reality with something that not even war or death can silence: romance.

“We decided before he left that instead of being upset, that it was romantic,” she said. “It will be a story we can tell our children and grandchildren.”

The two soul mates are counting on their love to help them cope with situations like Pleskach missing Laughary’s graduation. They’re counting on that same love to help guide them back into each other’s arms and to mend the wounds of war — and time and distance.

“I’ll have graduated and moved on to a different level in my life,” Laughary said. “We’ll have to get to know each other all over again. We’ll have to learn each other again.”

Each week, Zach picks a random person from the student directory and calls them to ask, “What’s Your Story?” His series runs every Tuesday. Zach can be reached at [email protected]