Here is another short excerpt from The Last Day of Forever. Enjoy.
7 June 1856
This is the first entry in my diary since my mother passed away almost a month ago. My life has changed in so many ways I cannot even begin to comprehend what all this will mean for me. I need to record my thoughts, and maybe that will help me sort things out in my mind.
I’m on the sternwheeler “Shreveport Belle” headed up the Mississippi River from New Orleans bound for Catahoula Plantation on the Red River. I found a place where I can have privacy to work on my diary, a comfortable bench in front of the wheelhouse with a marvelous view of the river.
My mother’s passing was the most profound change in my life. She was my life, especially the last months she was alive, her health slowly declining, rendering her incapable of even the most basic efforts without my assistance. During that period, we became even closer than we were before. We laughed together and we wept together as we attempted to get through her terribly painful sickness.
It was hard watching my mother die, watching her deteriorate from the vivacious and loving woman I knew most of my life into the empty shell she became. In some ways, I am not yet accepting of it. I have not wept for her, not even at her funeral. I was numb, feeling nothing, as if my emotions were depleted, and I was incapable of expressing them. The hurt in my heart would not come out for me to find relief from it.
More changes came in my mother’s last days when an old friend of hers showed up, summoned by her. Morgan Davis was a friend of my long deceased father. My mother had written Uncle Morgan (as I was asked to call him) when she realized her remaining time here on earth was drawing to a close. They had not seen each other since before I was born, and they must have been close since she asked him to take responsibility for me.
When Uncle Morgan first arrived at our home in Virginia, my mother asked to be alone with him. I waited outside and could hear them talking about me. Sometimes they got quite loud, though not enough for me to understand all they said, but I knew my future was being decided in that room.
My mother called me in after they had spoken and explained what was about to happen to me. I was to be given to a complete stranger and taken away to his plantation in Louisiana–a place I knew nothing about–and joined to a family I had never met. That’s when the full impact of my mother’s pending death hit me for the first time. That’s when the fear first set in.
I looked up at Uncle Morgan, and he seemed as confused and distressed as I was, though he tried to hide it with a reassuring smile.
With my future thus settled, my mother died a few days later.