Christmas: Jillian’s Letter—A Poignant Short Story

It was a cold December day as I stood at the window and watched the falling snow in the late afternoon.  Snow covers everything in winter, even the footprints on the sidewalk, invisible but very real in the mind.

It was a rainy October day when she walked out the door and down the sidewalk.  With her green umbrella sheltering her from the rain, she paused and turned back.  Our eyes met, but we knew it would be the last time.

It seemed like a moment which lasted for eternity but those moments are forever stored in the sad lockers of the soul.  Our gaze was broken as she turned and got into the yellow cab which would take her away from my reality. Her journey to New York City would take her far from the wheat fields of Kansas.

Sometimes life on this planet traversing the cosmos proffers a glass of claret wine. However, when we taste the wine, it is bitter because the wine was ruined by a small leak in the cask.  Those tears of reality are burning, searing, to the very core of our being.

They say love is like a plant.  If not given proper care and nourishment it dies.  There is no chance of rebirth since the roots have withered with neglect.  Neglect is a compass of our lives it seems.

Well, time to cease pondering and prepare another lonely dinner.  Shoveling snow will be a welcome retreat in the morning before work.

A melody of Morning Has Broken startled my reverie.  Answering my cell, I was greeted by an unfamiliar voice asking if I was…

I replied yes.  I was not prepared for the next two sentences.

“There’s been a terrible accident.”  There was a long pause, before the second sentence was uttered somewhat coldly.  “Your wife was killed…”

I don’t remember what else was said. The next few days became a blur.

A pastor said something about loss, hope and resurrection.  The tears of her parents, sisters and brother falling on the snow covered ground as the casket rested on the vermillion hoists.

Returning later, the mound of fresh dirt was covered by Christmas snow.  Jillian loved Christmas snow. She would collect glasses of it and place them in the freezer.

How appropriate for her final resting place to be covered with Christmas snow.  As I walked from the gravesite, the church bells were welcoming Christmas Eve.

I slipped into the church with its aromatic smells of candles and soft light.  A children’s choir was rehearsing for the Christmas program:  “Silent Night, Holy Night…”

After half an hour I got into my teal Volvo and drove toward home.  I flipped on the radio and Taylor Swift was singing, “Last Christmas.”

When I arrived home, I realized that this Christmas would be so different.  No chestnuts roasting on an open fire or stockings on the bare mantle where pictures once sat with their precious memories.

No, this Christmas would be a sterile reality.  No decorations.  No tree.  No presents. No candles.  No carolers.  No hope and love to brighten my day.

I opened a can of clam chowder soup and pulled a box of oyster crackers from the shelf.  As the crackers left the shelf, a letter fell onto the counter.

It was addressed to me.  I recognized Jillian’s handwriting.

I took the beige letter from the pink envelope.  As I unfolded it I noticed dried tear drops splattered on the hand written page.

My Dearest Jim,

I write this in the hope of you finding it before Christmas.  We spent six Christmases together as a couple.  This will be tough on both of us, but I want you to know that I still care for you.

We did not plan to be separated for this Christmas seven years ago when we decided to be married.  Unfortunately, my love for you diminished as we faced so many obstacles.  I am so sorry that I was not able to help you overcome your deep rooted misgivings from childhood.

For the last year I could see the pain in your eyes.  Loving me was becoming more difficult for you.  I just gave up trying to ease that pain.

I wish you well this Christmas and the all the Christmases to come.  I hope you find happiness and joy.

Take care, my dearest Jim.  You will be in my thoughts and prayers this Christmas.

Jillian

As I held the letter, the memories of my neglect and mistrust filled my mind.  My wife had become a target for my fears and problems.  I killed the love plant which bloomed seven years ago.

Now, she is gone—not only on that rainy October day, but gone forever.  I stood and went over to the window.

In the distance I heard carolers as the Christmas snow gracefully came down touched by a slight wind.  Dancing snowflakes.

If only I could travel back seven years ago, I could do things right.  Be a better husband.  Love her more.  Face my issues. Cause her less pain and grief.

Alas, we cannot change the past.  Perhaps, I will attend that Christmas program.  After the program I will go visit Jillian and tell her how much I miss her.

If only I had taken the time…if only.

300

G. D. Williams       © 2011

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