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The Long Lost Letter
My Grandfather came to me one day, the day after we had lost my Grandmother. He held in his shaky hands an antique looking letter.
"Open it, Vanessa." he said, handing it to me. I did as he wished and opened the fragile envelope that held an ancient looking letter. It had the most beautiful handwriting I had ever seen in all my days. I looked up at the date in the corner: December 5, 1941.
“Read it child… read it.”, he said pointing with a shaky finger at the paper. I read it silently in my head, letting the words speak to me.
“My darling Carson,
Everyday and night, my heart longs for you. I can sometimes hear your whispers blowing in from the shore on the ocean breeze. I know you were doing your duty in serving your country, but I still don’t understand why it was you who had to be injured. With out you by my side, no matter how many people I am surrounded by here at the hospital, I feel alone. Being a nurse here is no easy duty, but surely not nearly as hard as being a soldier like you once were. I often find myself staring out the window thinking of you, even though I am supposed to be tending to my patients. I get lost in just thinking about you. I long for myself to be held in your arms, because whenever I am, I feel as though I am invincible. Like nothing in this world could harm me. I love you Carson, I love you with all of my heart. I cannot wait until April when I am to become your wife. I promise you, I will come back to you on the fifteenth of December. I’ll be home just in time to celebrate Christmas with you. I can almost see you sitting by the fire in the home we are to spend our life together in. I see a glimmering tree decked with glass ornaments from our childhoods. Tell mother that I miss her, deeply. Tell father the same. I miss them both dearly. Tell Agnes I miss her as well, being my only sister, she deserves to know. Promise me that you will take care of her while I’m gone, Carson. I hope your leg is healing well my dear, being the nasty injury it is. I miss you.
With all my love,
I put the letter back in the envelope when I finished.
“She never did come home.” My grandfather said wiping a tear away. “I never got to marry her. I never got to hold her close like she desired.” I flipped the envelope over to see the address that it had come from, to see where my grandfather’s past love had gone only to never return. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I looked up at him with a blank expression.
“The hospital she was working at was bursting at the seams with injured soldiers two days later during the attack made by the Japanese.” , he said as he picked up the box next to his chair. He opened it and pulled out a hideous yellow colored paper. He motioned for me to take it, so I did. I read this one as well. It was a telegram.
“We regret to inform you that Sarah Nottingham has been declared dead. Stop. She was killed in the act of saving Lieutenant John Garrison. Stop. She saved many lives in her line of duty. Stop. We give you our deepest sympathy. Stop.”
“That was sent from the hospital she was working at that day.” Another tear started to roll down his cheek. “If only I could have held her one last time.” I hugged him to comfort his distressed nerves.
“The Agnes mentioned in the letter,” I began as I pulled away, “was that Grandma?”
“Yes Pumpkin. It was. I took care of her after Sarah died.”
“Just like she asked?”
“See now this is what I wanted to tell you about. As I took care of your grandmother when she was younger, I felt that I owed it to Sarah to marry her.”
“You didn’t love her?”
“Not at first. But as time passed, she became my everything. I loved her more than anything in the world. I had almost completely forgotten about Sarah, but she was still in the back of my mind from time to time.”
“Is that how Mom got her name? From Sarah?”
“Yes… Agnes named her that after her sister the ‘Fallen Hero’ as she called her.”
“She truly was.” I said, gently caressing the letter with my thumb.
“But there is a slight twist in this tale.” He said, breaking the still silence. “Your grandmother apparently hid this letter from me all these years.”
“Well, it didn’t arrive at the house ‘till about three day after the attack, and only one day after the telegram. She didn’t want to see me hurt anymore than I already was. So she hid it from me. She gave me this box yesterday, before she had me go get the doctor to shut of the life support.” He grimaced at the thought of losing his beloved wife only twenty-four hours earlier.
“Why did you show this to me?” I asked beginning to cry as well.
“Because Vanessa, Sarah was part of your history, you needed to know about her and how she lost her life trying to save that soldier.”
“Did you ever meet him?”
“I did once. He came to me and told me that if it weren’t for Sarah, his son would be without a father. He thanked her parents for raising such an amazing woman.”
“Was Grandma amazing too?”
“Yes, just as amazing.”
“Do you think I’ll ever do anything amazing Grandpa?”
“Absolutely Pumpkin.” He said, as he tousled my hair.
It’s now later in my life, and Grandpa died two years back. He left me that box; with the letter, telegram and other treasures of Sarah and my grandmother, Agnes. I became a nurse, to honor my aunt, the ‘Fallen Hero’. I do what I love, and love what I do. I couldn’t imagine choosing any other career path. And to think, I could have chosen differently. It was all thanks to that letter… that long lost letter.