On this, another beautiful autumn afternoon in central Florida, we'll continue with Diane Vitale's story. Thanks for stopping by.
I awakened several hours later with a dull headache. After a shower to chase away the travel fatigue, I descended to the kitchen where I found a hive of activity underway. With the time change and length of travel, the Solstice was only two days away, and the three of us would need every minute for our preparations. We talked about the proposed ceremony as we worked. When Nonna left to go up to her room, I turned to my mother.
“Mom?” I cleared my throat. “There is something we need to discuss…ah,” my voice trailed off.
“Yes, carissma, I know. Even if I had not watched in the scrying mirror as you performed your healing spell, I would know that you are not well. I understand the reasons for your actions. After losing Chad, I know you couldn’t watch another man die while you did nothing. Your grandmother and I have discussed this, and we have a suggestion, but it is your decision, something between you and the Goddess. Only She can grant you the peace you seek.”
I waited with quiet anticipation while Mother paused in thought. She shrugged and continued speaking after the brief hesitation. “Tonight, after your grandmother and I go to bed, you might consider lighting the Sacred Flame and invoking the Goddess. I think it is the only way to start on your journey of resolution.”
My mother’s counsel was, as always, a balm to my spirit. Perhaps the combined set of circumstances would temper the Goddess’s judgment of my actions. I decided to follow Mother’s advice. “I can try, Mom, but if you don’t need me now, I want to take a run over to Arlington. I need to visit Chad’s grave.”
* * * *
A stiff breeze fluttered the flags flying at half-staff at Arlington House as I made my way to the section where Chad’s grave lay. I gazed down at the simple white headstone overcome by the sense of loss and waste. I dropped to my knees, placed the flowers I brought in the holder at the head of the grave, and then laid my hand against the cold granite stone.
“Hi Chad, I’m back. I miss you so much and guilt because I couldn’t protect you still chokes me. I saw Charlize today. She has never understood why you married me. In some way, she blames me for your death. I tried to tell her but, well, you know I couldn’t have changed things.” Tears clouded my vision and the landscape wavered.
“You never wanted anything, but to be a soldier. I’d always accepted that, but I guess I never really thought that I’d have to lose you. I saw terrible things in Afghanistan and those experiences will always remain scars on my personal landscape. Now I realize my life must continue on some path that will give me a sense of personal peace. I hope the Goddess will grant me absolution for my actions and give me what I seek. Then, perhaps, I can get on with some semblance of a normal life.” I gazed off into the far distance as though I could pierce the veil that separated us. “I love you, Chad, I always will. Rest at peace here with all your brothers and sisters in arms.” (To be continued)