So many times I rationalized her away-the transparent swish of hooped black silk taffeta, glimpsed out of the corner of my eye nothing more than a trick of light and shadow. Or muted footsteps and gently closing doors the mere settling of this ancient sagging Greek Revival. Her home, a long time ago. Now mine.
And so many times I endeavored to convince myself that if indeed she really did exist, she was nothing more than a fanciful figment of my own feracious mind- conjured from a tragic chapter in the history of those who once inhabited this house; that of a young Confederate widow who died of a broken heart after learning that her sweetheart had perished in the Battle of Bull Run.
So many times I refused to believe in her…yet I need to believe in her now.
Only this morning, I still had you. Or at least, in the reality of my world, I believed you to be a part of it. The telegram, delivered just after lunch by a stiff young corporal in olive drab, fluttered to the floor after shattering that world.
Killed in action…Guadalcanal…October 13th, 1942…
Nearly two weeks ago! (Only yesterday I was shopping for your Christmas present-warm wool socks and a tin of your favorite peanut brittle.)
I am in shock. Flooded by a sense of aloneness as foreign to me as the sand on which you died, my dearest.
Imagining her gazing at the night sky almost a century ago-looking toward the heavens from the depths of her grief, I find comfort from the depths of my own. Searching for you among the stars, I sense her beside me. Shoulder to shoulder, we huddle together-knowing that in our sorrow, we are not alone.