Autumn 1862 No. 12



In the year of 1862, Johanna Cardiff was becoming a young woman; her country was split by war.  This is her journal; these are her journeys. 



Dear Brothers,

My letter has been written, my condolences said, and I am stuck with no action to distract me from the emptiness I feel.  My sister, my friend, the girl who walked beside me through every step I have taken in this life, is dead.  My friend Patsy Brown is gone.

I don’t know how to proceed without her.  No matter what the choice or decision needed, I always, first checked with Patsy.  She was the one who helped me decide what to wear, who to dance with and with whom to walk.  She was the keeper of all my secrets.

After I allowed Stephen Backwell, the banker’s son, to kiss me, one day after church, she was the one I told.  The only one I told.

My entire life was seen through the prism of Patsy and I.  We promised each other we would be old women together.  Now, she’s gone.

I force the thought of her being cold, unmoving, and silent from my mind.  I cannot bear to think of her never again bathing me with her smile and sharing with me her laugh.  Her presence had the strength to lighten my heaviest load, and now, I am without her.

Death can be many things, to the aged and infirm, who is sick and in pain, it can be a release to a better life.  For one as young, vibrant, and loved, death is nothing more than a thief.  I curse it.

The morning before her death, as we sat in my kitchen, and drank coffee, she told me she had been asked to go to a picnic sponsored by one of the military units currently stationed here.  I asked her how she answered the young man who invited her.

She lifted her chin and stiffened her pose, “I told him I was engaged to a man busy defeating Jefferson Davis and would not embarrass my beloved by attending social functions with another.”

I smiled and gently reminded her she was not “officially” engaged, since my brother had chosen not to announce their plans in public.  He could not fault her if she said yes to another.  I said this in jest, as I certainly wanted her to marry my brother Samuel.

She smiled at me, the ever-present twinkle in her eyes and replied, “Johanna, you have no idea the privileges I have allowed your brother and if I shared them, you would wear a blush for the next week.  I have allowed Samuel freedoms that some wives of twenty years hesitate to perform.”

I was aghast and the embarrassment not evident on my expression was voiced as I stuttered, “Patsy, you didn’t.”

“Oh, yes I did,” she replied, “several times, but only in my daydreams.”

I flushed and she giggled, knowing she had gotten one over on me.  Two hours later, she was dead.  I will miss her every day for the rest of my life.

Be safe my brothers and hurry home.

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