Catherine passed by her bedroom mirror and glanced at herself. She always felt a sense of shock at seeing herself. She looked like Harriet, not Catherine. So often, she almost expected to see her 20 or 30 year old self peering back at her. But she saw a woman old and frail, with thin pursed lips. She looked down at her hands. They were gnarled with very purple veins spider-webbing in every direction. She picked up the old Bible Harriet had given her so many years ago. She could hardly hold it without its falling apart in her hands. But it was precious to her. It had changed her life, her marriage. It had given her Gwendolyn. She set the Bible down and picked up a picture of herself, Gwendolyn, and her granddaughter Sophia. What a blessed life I have lived. She thought of all that she had seen. The completion of a railroad. The building of many churches and schools. On the streets outside her house, she watched horses and carriages turn to motorized vehicles. She remembered when she first heard of the “horseless carriage” and how she had laughed at the idea. She watched the girls go from petticoats and full skirts to dresses sleek and slim and short.
She carefully placed the picture down and picked up the Bible again. She leafed through it until she came to the Psalms, her comfort. Tucked away in the Psalms was Dane’s letter. The last she would ever hear from him. The years did not make the pain go away. She missed him more in this very moment than she ever had before. The pain was not so searing as it had been all those years ago, but it was present nonetheless. She never moved from the little house along the Mississippi. She raised Gwendolyn there, alone. She baked bread with her and talked with her of love and life. She cried with her when Grandpa Charles had died, and went Grandma Elizabeth died shortly thereafter. She thought of Dane and the seemingly endless amount of money he had left her. She had joyously done just as he had wished in his letter. She sent significant amounts of money to missionaries everywhere. She thought of the schools and supplies the money sent to the Freedmen’s Bureau. She thought of the evangelists sent to Ecuador and China. She looked up and whispered, I miss him. Oh, how I’ve missed him. But You knew what You were doing, Jesus. You knew.
She read Dane’s letter over again and the tears settled between the wrinkles in the corners of her eyes. I will see you soon, my dear, she whispered, pressing the letter to her heart.