Things have been a little busy around here but I wanted to try and get this written this am. Once I started writing I had a hard time keeping it short. Ugh!
Go here if you want to read other entries.
The white and crisp pages that I've inserted into the old diary are almost full with my story. I couldn't bear to write in Eliza's original. It felt some how disrespectful, but I wanted to keep record of our journey, Eliza's, Ava's and mine. I decide to read over today's entry one more time before turning the lights out for the night.
June 5, 2011
It's hard to describe the strong emotions I felt when I was presented your rusty nails today. When the man entered the room in his black suit and a sober look on his face, I thought he was being a little over dramatic. But when I opened the small pine box and looked at the nails I was overwhelmed with feelings.
It has been a long journey since that phone call from the airport executives. I'm still amazed they were able to track me down. And then the discovery of the box of old diaries that belonged to great great grandmother, Eliza, in the attic of a distant cousin.
Eliza didn't want you to be forgotten and you won't be.
I couldn't resist the urge to look back at an old entry of Eliza's.
So much for sleep....
April 5, 1849
Today your pa and I leave for the Oregon Trail. I can't stand the thought of leaving you behind, alone. So many times I have questioned our decision to make this trip, but the plans had been made and the money spent, long before the accident. I would forget the whole thing and stay here in Illinois if I could, just be near you. But it is impossible. One thing that brings me some peace is knowing that you will have a proper burial site, not an unmarked grave on the side of the trail somewhere. You will not be forgotten.
I turn a few more pages back....
March 28, 1849
Today pa and I laid you to rest. Pa built the coffin that holds you. You know how talented he is with woodworking. He put a lot of love into it and it turned out so beautiful. We are also going to have a nice headstone made for you. The cemetery is a small one just started up by a church here. I know it will be well taken care of....
I shake my head thinking of the years of controversy surrounding the moving of this cemetery. I had read about it in the Chicago Tribune. I never thought I had a connection. As far as I knew, most of my family was from California. I had just relocated to Chicago for a job two years ago when I got the call that I had an ancestor buried there.
I turn the pages of the diary back to the days after the accident.
March 25, 1849
My heart is broken, but I must write. I will write no matter how difficult because I want to hold on to every memory of you. Today is the end of a very long three days. We have been waiting and praying that you would recover. It was not meant to be. I will never forgive myself for allowing you to go with pa to practice with the new wagon and team we just bought for the trip. Then you would be safe in my arms today. Now my arms will forever ache for you.
I look over at the pine box I received today from the people handling the cemetery relocation. Eliza will be happy knowing that Ava's final resting place will be near her after all. Even though all that is left are the rusty nails from her coffin.