by Lexie von Zedlitz
My dearest Walter,
In a time I know to be my last few days in this world, I write for the purpose of clarity and understanding. I am an old lady now— once vibrant and flushed with youth, I now lie in my sick bed living out my final days weak and frail. In this time of great reflection, I have engaged in deep thought about my life’s past which I want to share with you.
As I child, I saw the world with bright and clear eyes; it seemed a shining place of peace and happiness untouched by any hand of cruel nature. My childhood was spent in a field of flowers, with scarlet poppies and yellow snapdragons dotting my memory. As I began to grow older, however, the world in which I lived began to fall out from under me. In my teenage years I developed a slight suspicion of my own origins. While my two brothers were both spitting images of my mother and father, I never acquired the same bone structure and facial features that were so prominent throughout the family line. Yet I curiously observed that I had the very same pale white skin as my aunt, and your great aunt, Christabel Lamotte. She was an uninteresting lady— a spinster, always trying to engage me in literature and poetry when I had no interest. In my childhood, I simply attributed Christabel to the growing stack of unread books gathering dust on my armoire. Yet now in my old age I begin to wonder…
A distant memory comes to mind, which I can barely recall— for it was so long ago— of an afternoon spent in a field of flowers making daisy chains. I was so young, most all I can picture is a blur of tall grass and clouds— but I do remember the face of an old man. His forehead was wrinkled and his hair gone grey, but there was an inner warmth that shone through his eyes which inclined me to trust him so instantly. I remember not much of the encounter— as I was so young— but the one act that comes to mind is when I cut a lock of my own hair and braided it for him to take with him. For what purpose I know not, but the occurrence I once overlooked in my childhood now lingers in my memory with the utmost persistence.
My dearest son Walter, I write to you now not on behalf of my history, but of your own. I am an old lady now, and the mysteries of my time are not possible to be solved in the numbered days I have left. I have lived such a fulfilling and happy life that these arisen suspicions matter little to me now, and in my last moments loving memories with you and your father flood my mind. You being my one and only son, hold for me all of the light and hope in the world. You were born into a family of such love and compassion, all of which I wish for you in the coming years. I met your father when he visited my family one summer, and we fell in love instantly. He brought to my life a new warmth and vigor that transformed me as a woman— and from this great love sprang our own package of joy. You. I watched you grow from a little seedling into a strong young man, and my heart swells with pride at the man you have become. In my final days, I want you to know that there was nothing but love and happiness supporting you throughout your childhood. And now as your own child is soon to be born, I have the utmost confidence that you will raise him or her with the same love with which I raised you. You are my son, my heart, and all of my happiness. In my time of passing, I have nothing but love for you. I feel weak— I will rejoin your father soon. With this I close.
All the love in the world,
Your mother May