I had always loved the snowy Christmases as a kid. We would spend them in our native Michigan. And the snow was magical my brothers and sisters and I. We thought it was the most magical time of year.
But that was before the War.
The war had changed everything for us, our men have all gone to fight, our home, and our factories, once flourishing, were barely getting by. And to make matters worse, our beloved mother, was lying on her death bed this Christmas Eve. Father, and my brother David were both away fighting. My brother James had already died in the war. The upkeep of our once graceful, beautiful, home, was up to me. A mere seventeen old girl. How could I do all this? Care for my mother, my three younger siblings, and take care of this place? It seemed to be too much for me. But I knew my responsibility, I could not back down from it.
I worry all the time about this. About everything. Our lives used to be so stable, so certain. Papa was here, running things beautifully. And Mother was well. She was beautiful, and such a graceful hostess, we would have company here all the time. And my brothers, Oh how I miss them so. David was the oldest of us all. He is twenty one now. He was the best rider in the whole state. And James, with his great zest for life, was exactly like our mother, he had the perfect looks, the long limbs, the flashing grin. He was the most handsome boy in the state. He would have been nineteen now.
I miss them being here. It is so hard to think about James being gone, and Mother will soon follow. In the first couple days, after Papa and the boys left, the quiet here was so Erie. And I wasn't the only one to notice. Jane was the same girl of fifteen she had always been, loud and outgoing, now she's not as happy anymore, but still more optimistic then the rest of us. Jordan, was not quite the same boy of thirteen that he had used to be. He was much more quiet and reserved then what he used to be. He used to be the merry little prankster. And little Abigail, she was lost without her Papa. She was her Papa's baby girl, and she was completely lost without him and grumpy all the time.
I see how much the war has changed my little brother and sisters, how it has changed all of us, and I can't help but worry. Our once perfect life, had dramatically changed in the blink of an eye it seemed. It seemed like it couldn't get much worse, and then Mother gets sick. We had never seen her ill before. She was full of life, of love, and passion. Then Papa left, and her two oldest sons. And she couldn't talk to her beloved sister Maryanne in the South. Everything changed so rapidly. And Mother had slowed down, didn't smile as much. And she just stopped caring after we got news of James' death. Then one day, she couldn't get out of bed. It's been about two months now. And she has gotten skinnier, she refuses to eat, she has to be forced to drink. It's like she doesn't care anymore. I wish she could just fight this, not only for her, but for us, her children. We need her so bad. I wish she would at least try, try to get better.
Christmas, just won't be very merry for us this year.
It makes me miss Andrew even more. He's away fighting in the war, along with the rest of our men. I miss him so much. I wish he was here to hold me, and comfort me, the way he used to. I miss the feel of his strong arms holding me close to him, while his hands gently caressed my back. He is my betrothed. I wish he were here now. I can't help but think back to the good times, when things were normal. Andrew and I would go out riding together. He would take me out to some tall hill, where we could see for miles, or a scenic spot along a creek, and he would sneak a kiss from my lips. I would act outraged and appalled, as a young lady should be, but I couldn't help the warm sensation I would feel up my spine from him. We would go to parties together, and dance to the early morning hours. He was a divine dancer. All the other young ladies, would try to catch his eye, but he would only think of me. The older women would remark on how we were such a handsome couple. They would wager amongst themselves when he would ask the question. I remember when he did it, he finally asked me, before he left with the rest of the men. I had wished he had asked me earlier, so we could have more time together, but I was ecstatic that he had finally asked me.
The doctor has arrived again. To check up on Mother. When she had first taken to her bed, Doctor Harris came as fast as he could, and wouldn't leave her side. Its said that when he and Mother were younger, he had been madly in love with her, but he could never talk to her, he was too shy. But Mother only had eyes for Papa, and Papa was in love with her. On their wedding, Doctor Harris, back from his Medical training, had gotten so horribly drunk, he had to be carried out of the ceremony. He eventually found a girl and married her, and had a had a child, and they were satisfied, but he had never been fully happy. It's said he is still in love with my Mother.
"Adelaide" Jane called for me," Doctor Harris would like a word with you." "I shall be right there" I answered, I dreaded speaking with him. Everyday, I knew I was one day closer to hearing she would soon pass out of this life. Today, I knew it would be different. It was the end, I knew it. How could I carry on without her?
"Miss Adelaide," the Doctor spoke to me" I know this is hard to handle, but I don't expect her to last the night, she will be lucky to last the night"
"Are you sure," I cried out. I could not mask the tears falling from my eyes. Nor could he.
"I am positive of this Miss. I am so sorry, I really wish I could do more to help, but I can't help Georgiana, I have already sent for reverend Asher."
We stood there for a minute, in silent cries of pain, each of us not even trying to mask the emotion we were both apparently feeling. Quickly, I remembered, I was the oldest at home now, I had a responsibility for the children. I had to break the news to them, I had to comfort them, and guide them out of the devastation and depression that would soon follow. I was in charge. It all rest on me now. I quickly went in to tell the children. They immediately began to weep, as I expected they would. We all then sat with Mother. And we sat with her, and by eight thirty that evening, she had passed. Our happy, beautiful, vibrant, once so full of life mother, had passed. I then made a promise, to her. That I would not fail her or Papa. I would keep this place going. I would raise Jane, Jordan, and Abigail, and they would get through this, and go on. It is quite a task, but I will not fail. I will stay strong for them. I have no choice, I need too.
We held the funeral on December 27th. I kept wondering to myself, how shall I do all this. The children cried and cried. Abigail just can't believe her mother is gone. None of us can.
Jordan is being the strong one. He has done so much to help me. He hasn't even played any of his usual pranks he does when people are around. Everybody remarked on how well behaved he has been through this. He is smart boy, people don't always realize that about him I guess. He knows that his duty is to help his sisters cope. We are a family, and that is what we will remain.
I can't help but to think back to the better days. I often reminisce on the last day Andrew and I had spent together.
"Don't cry for me Addie girl" he had comforted me. He was leaving, I didn't want him to go.
"How will I know you will be ok," I cried out. " I worry so much about this, how can I be sure nothing will happen to you? How will I know you will come back? What will I do without you?"
He stood there for a minute or so, just staring at me with those light blue eyes of his, the wind gently ruffling up his sandy curls. His eyes showed the barest hint of a tear.
Finally he spoke, after the long silence.
"Adelaide, we may be apart, and I can't guarantee you that I will be back by Christmas,
There are a lot of things I don't know, but there is one thing I do Addie girl, and that is that I love you, and when you love another being, as I love you, then no matter how many miles separate you, you are always together in heart, and in mind. All I have to do is dream about you, here waiting for me to come home, so we can marry, and I know I will be ok."
"How can I be so sure Andrew?" I asked, desperate, I didn't know what I'd do without him.
"You just have to believe", he answered, with a tight embrace. I never wanted him to let me go. I wanted that moment to last forever. There is always something about that last final embrace. When you know you aren't going to see that person for awhile, you just want them to hold you forever. And it feels like, if you hold them tight enough and close your eyes, it will last longer, and you hope that maybe it will, and you won't have to bear the pain of watching them walk away, not knowing if or when you would see them again.
"Miss Addie", I was interrupted from my daydream by Ruthie, one of our housemaids.
"Yes" I answered her.
"Mrs. Asher and daughter Allison are to visit with you, They are waiting in the parlor Miss"
"Thank you, I shall be down in a moment."
I wiped the tears that had escaped my eyes from thinking of my last meeting with Andrew. I had to compose myself, and learn to control these emotions. I can not keep looking into the past and trying to relive those better days. I need to stay here, in the present.
I went down into the parlor to play hostess, and to entertain my company The visit went well enough. Mrs. Asher and her daughter were really good people. Allison and I had known each other always, and had been dear friends for what seemed like ages. Other than sharing their condolences with me at the beginning, they did their best to make me forget the pain they knew for sure I was still feeling. Even for an hour, to be able to put Mother in the back of my mind, and to be able to think freely of other things, is quite a treat. Especially in the early days right after the loss. It constantly creeps on your mind, and you realize, that person is not with you anymore, and you must remind yourself to go on, even if at times you feel ready to give up.
We passed the beginning of the new year with little celebration. We barely took note if it. What reason was there to celebrate with this new year? It would just be another year filled with war, and death. And none of us were looking forward to another year filled with the dreary wear we had become accustomed to.
We soon got back to our regular routine. The children went to school. I would run the house. Keep track of the goings on at the factories, and do my best to keep them running. A couple times a week, I would join Allison and a couple other girls from school, and we would make bullets, and bandages, and send little things to our men bravely fighting for freedom for all.