Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)
TITLE: Beside the Apple Blossom Trees
By Dani Van Meter
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November 21 , 1863
This morning when I went to water the plants, I found some frost on our apple blossom trees. This only makes me think of you, my dear older brother. Oh, how it plagues me to think of you in that cold army camp!
I know that you won't like this, but I pray about you every time I think of you. I wish you only knew how much I pray and hope that you come to a saving knowledge of Christ. I love you,
December 5, 1863
It is getting colder here, but it is not the temperature that bothers me. The climbing number of dieing men is what chills my soul.
As far as your praying and preaching go, it will not do me much good, although I do thank you for your trouble. There is nothing that I hear from you that I have not already heard from the chaplain. Christianity seems to be for those who worry about death, and accept your faith just to put their minds at ease. As you already know, I am not much afraid of anything, so I do not need your faith.
I apologize for such a gloomy letter, I'm afraid this is a reflection of my mood at the moment. We go to war with the Confederates soon. Take care of Mother and yourself, little sister; I miss you more that I could explain in a letter.
December 31, 1863
Your letter made my heart heavy with sadness. I miss you much, as well, and you are exactly right. Nothing I could say will make you turn into a Christian. Only Jesus Christ could do that. I still pray for you everyday.
I must make this a short letter; the list of the wounded and dead from the battle is coming today. I pray fervently that you are not on that list.
January 3, 1864
You have probably discovered my name on the list of wounded. A gunshot struck me very near my heart. I have only recently regained my consciousness. I do not mean to alarm you or mother, Sarah, but I want to prepare you for the fact that I may die soon. I wish you both could fathom how much you two mean to me, and how much I love you.
I often think of those times when we were younger, and would spend our days beside the apple blossom trees. We would quarrel, play and tell our secrets. I miss those days of safety with all of my heart. I could write on and on but my arm is tiring. Sarah, contrary to what I told you I am growing scared of death.
January 8, 1864
Sarah and Mother! I know that you are not expecting a letter from me so shortly after the last one, but what do you think? The chaplain came in to see me yesterday, and he told me the gospel like I had heard it before, but oh, how I had NOT heard it before! It feels like I heard him with new ears, and Christ invited me into his loving arms, and accepted me. As the sun is melting the cold ground here, so did Christ's Word thaw my frozen, wretched heart. More good news- the doctor says that I may go home in a few weeks! Sarah, promise me that when I come home, you will take me to our apple blossom trees, and we will divulge all our secrets as our tradition!
Your brother, in blood and now in Christ!
March 11, 1864
As I stand at your grave today, my heart is filled with grief and joy. I can not decide if the tears that are running down my cheeks are for happiness or sorrow. I am happy that we will see you in heaven, but I do wish we could see you sooner. You were right when you said that you were going home, but neither you nor I knew just how truthful those words were. The bumpy wagon trip that you were apart of was too much for your weak constitution, so here we stand. I know that you will never read this letter but I can not help but write of all of my feelings and give my final goodbye. So here I leave on your grave this letter, my love, and a single apple blossom.
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