Home for Christmas
The Christmas of 1863 would be like none other for Sarah Miller. Although this would not be the first Christmas for her and her young husband Thomas, it would be the one that would be forever seared in her memory.
The country had been at war for some time and Thomas, a loyal son of the South, insisted it was a matter of pride and duty that he fight for the cause. And although she would miss him terribly, she had supported him wholeheartedly. The past year had been the longest one of her life. Oh, how she longed for Thomas to come home and hold her in his arms once again.
In spite of the war, Sarah had purposed to make their home one that Thomas would be proud of. He had always loved Christmas and she would not let this terrible war steal something that Thomas loved so.
The house was decorated just like Thomas had known it in the past. The smell of fresh pine greeted her as she entered the sitting room. Candles adorned the branches of their Christmas tree. Along with the popcorn and cranberry garland, there were simple decorations that she and Thomas had made through the years. All this added a special holiday warmth to their home.
Her long dress swept against the branch of the Christmas tree knocking one of the ornaments to the floor. As she bent to pick it up, she breathed in the fragrance of the fresh cut cedar. She held the small angel close to her heart. Thomas had made it for her on their first Christmas. It's robe was made from an old flour sack, it's hair from straw, and it's wings from seed pods from their field. It wasn't very pretty, but it was so full of love that she cherished it.
She moved toward the crackling fireplace and removed her only picture of Thomas from the mantel. She ran her slender fingers slowly across his face. A tear fell onto the glass. "Oh Thomas" she whispered. "I love you so." And then another tear streamed down her cheek. She returned the picture to it's place of honor and pulled from her pocket a letter that had arrived only days before. The edges were already crumpled from numerous readings. She eased into the rocker near the fire and began to read....
September 16, 1863
My dearest Sarah,
Words fail me. I miss you so very much. Our men are camped near a place called Chickamauga in Georgia. I fear a battle is near. We pulled out of Chattanooga just a few days ago. It looked as if we would avoid any confrontation. We so easily allowed those Yanks to have Chattanooga and now it appears that General Bragg will make his stand here, just a few miles from there. The dense woods will make fighting difficult, but do not fear, my darling, we can stand against the best of those Feds.
You are ever in my thought and the nights seem endless without you.. I long to hold you and feel your soft skin against mine. Sarah, my sweet, do not fret over me. The bond between us cannot be broken. I will love you until I breathe my last and if possible, I will love you even then.
I hope to make it home before long. It would seem this war cannot last much longer. I must go. I pray you are well and safe.
Until I can hold you in my arms again. I am forever yours.
The tears began to fall more freely now, as she sat and stared at the letter. "Thomas, Thomas, I miss you so." She wept openly as she rose from the rocker and slowly moved across the room; letter still in hand. She removed her cloak from the hook near the door and swung it over her shoulders. As she entered the silence of the night, the bitter wind stung her face. She pulled the hood over her head and wrapped the cloak tightly around her.
The full moon through the trees splintered the darkness. But, she had no need of the light, for she was all too familiar with the path she was to take.
The snow began to cling to the hem of her dress making it heavy, but she trudged on. It wasn't a long path, but tonight it seemed endless. As she neared the edge of the woods she could see all to well what waited for her. Her legs began to grow weak and her knees buckled. She didn't try to stop herself as she crumpled in the snow. She clutched the letter to her breast. The sobs were uncontrollable now.
"Thomas, how can I go on without you? You are my life." She cried. She lifted her head and through her tear-filled eyes she read...
Thomas A. Miller
Killed at the battle of Chickamauga
September 20, 1983
Her Thomas was finally home!
© Coleen Mohr 2001