Snow was just beginning to fall outside. I couldn't help but look up from my book every few seconds to gaze out the window. It wasn't that I was not interested in what I was reading, it was merely the fact that the snow was so intriguing.
I watched as the bushes began slowly turning from dark green into soft, velvety white. The neighbor's roof went from delicious-looking chocolatey-brown to enticing crystals of pure-white sugar. Yes, I was definitely intrigued.
For some reason, the snow made me feel less lonely, despite the fact that I was all alone in a great big three-storied, beautifully furnished, exquisitely decorated mansion. The snow made me remember when times were simpler, when I was simpler. Suddenly I felt as if my body were no longer sitting in the soft-as-silk comfortable red chair. Suddenly, I felt the hard back of a dining room chair.
I looked around at all the faces. There was Jack - excuse me, Mr. Silverson - sitting at the head of the table, because of course, he was the head of the household. Beside him and across from me was Mrs. Silverson, his beautiful Southern belle wife. Next to her was Amanda the prim and proper, perfect daughter, sipping her soup like a very refined lady. Across from Mr. Silverson was little Jack Junior, dressed in his finest clothes, and looking like he couldn't wait to get out of them.
And finally, there was Eddie, right next to me - he was the most down-to-earth person in his whole rich family. As for me, I was at the opposite end of the spectrum - dirt poor.
I wrung my hands under the table silently, looking down at my old yellow cotton dress, then looking up and catching Eddie's eye. He was so handsome back then; his eyes...they were irresistible. So kind, so sweet, filled with such pure intentions.
Back then we were just kids - I can't deny that I was in love with him even then, when he was sixteen and I only fourteen. It was true we came from two separate worlds. When we were together though, none of that stuff mattered. It was like the world disappeared every time we were alone.
"Eddie?" I'd say when we sat on his back porch looking up at the stars, Eddie holding my hand as I curled up in his embracing arms.
"Do you love me?"
"Of course I do Addie!"
"How much?" I'd ask, just wanting to hear him say it.
"My love for you is bigger than the sun."
"Well I love you more than the moon."
We'd stay like that for hours, just basking in the light of each other's presence. There was no one I would rather have spent time with. When I was at school, I thought of him. When I was at home in our dingy old house with brown shutters, my mind drifted to Eddie. When I sat knitting, I'd see a picture of him in my mind.
Every Friday night, it was tradition that I have dinner at Eddie's house. My parents, despite their pride, were happy about it - I think they wanted me to marry Eddie just so I could be the one to break the cycle of destitution. Instead of hoping I'd go to college, Mama and Daddy simply hoped I would marry Eddie.
Anyway, those dinners were always awkward. I always imagined I was Cinderella and Eddie was my prince charming. His family was the step-mother and the mean hateful step-sisters. The only difference was, his family wasn't mean...openly that is. Oh I'm sure they all talked about me behind my back - I can imagine Eddie's parents begging him to find a girlfriend of his own class. But, being cultured and refined Southerners, no one said anything about the subject to my face - especially not Mr. Silverson himself.
He'd always ask me things like "How is school Adeline?" or "How is your family?" in that sweet drawl of his.
"Everything is fine, sir," I'd reply meekly, not wanting to chat.
"Well I am glad to hear that," he'd say. And that was the extent of any small talk
at those Friday night dinners.
As I said before those dinners were uncomfortable - very uncomfortable. It was the ‘40's then and everything was different. Etiquette was held in very high regards. Uncomfortable as it may have been, that was the way it had to be. The only reason I suffered through those dinners was Eddie; it was because I loved him so much.
Eddie and I did end up getting married. I never made it to college, but I waited for him to finish. He went off to Yale because his daddy wouldn't except anything less. Then in 1953, a few years after he had returned home and started working at the family law firm, we got married. We had a huge wedding at St. Mary's chapel in Virginia - if we'd had it my way it would've been small with twenty people instead of 500. Again, I sacrificed my wants for Eddie.
Our honeymoon was the first time we ever made love. I had insisted, and Eddie agreed, that we save ourselves for each other. That promise was worth it - it made the first experience a million times better.
When he caressed me, kissing my lips and slowly my neck, my shoulders, all the way down, it felt so pure. It was the uniting of two into one. It wasn't just some fling. We were truly making love, a love that had blossomed for over a decade.
Once we got married, Eddie and I were hoping, praying, that kids would naturally follow. We tried, over and over, but without success. Eventually I went to the doctor and I was informed the worst news of my life: I was barren.
The day I found out, I cried for hours, lamenting over what I could never have. And Eddie, as always, was right there to comfort me. To hold me close and warm, and to whisper soothing words into my ear: "Addie, it's all right. Everything's going to be okay. If we can't have our own kids we'll just adopt." I smiled through my tears. Adoption, what a wonderful thing, I thought.
We planned on adopting the following March, the month of our one year anniversary, but by then, it was too late.
That winter, Eddie had gotten what he thought was a cold. He had this horrible hacking cough that came along with it, so I finally convinced him to go see the doctor. He told us it was pneumonia, that it was serious, but that in a few weeks Eddie would be fine. Eddie wasn't fine. He just got worse. Instead of just a hacking cough, Eddie started coughing up blood. It got to the point where all he could do was lie there in bed with the sheets surrounding him. He had no strength to get up.
I knew what was happening and I desperately wanted to stop it. I pleaded with God. Lord, why? He's so young! He's the only man I've ever loved. Why won't you let him stay with me?
Despite my daily prayers, Eddie's condition only deteriorated. The last day - I think Eddie knew it would be his last day on earth, I did too, like there was something in the air - that day, as I sat on the bed, Eddie pulled me close.
"Addie," he gasped. "Remember what we always used to say?"
Of course I did, how could I forget?
"Eddie," I said, tears rolling down my cheeks, "Do you love me?"
"Of course I do."
"My love for you is bigger than the sun."
I bit my lip, and took a deep breath, trying to control my emotions. "I love you more than the moon," I somehow choked out of myself.
"Goodbye Adeline Silverson. I'll see you in heaven," were his last words as he drifted off into eternal peace.
After Eddie passed away, life became harder. Harder is such an understatement. There are no words to describe the pain I felt when I knew he was gone. Every night as I dreamed of the past, I wanted to stay in this imaginary world forever and never wake up.
The only thing that's kept me going is children. The spring of 1954, instead of adopting, I decided to become a foster mother. Eddie had always wanted children, so this was my way of honoring his life.
As the decades passed, child after child came in and out of my life. Each one has been a blessing. As I've watched them grow from innocent kindergartners into teenagers reading to spread their wings, it's helped me remember. I remember Eddie and how lucky I was to grow up with him.
Now, I'm 76 and I'm still a foster mother. I'm still filled with joy every time I wake them up in the morning and tuck them in to bed at night.
Now I can't see the snow falling anymore - night has descended. The children have come home from school and are waiting eagerly to eat. Now I truly am sitting in a dining room chair, only this time, it's my own.
Dinner is ready, but first we must pray as we always do.
Angela, the youngest, all rosy cheeked and bright-eyed, begins the prayer. "Dear God, we thank you for this food."
"Please bless it to our bodies,"Joey, looking handsome as Eddie,continues.
"We thank you for all our blessings," adds beautiful Jodie.
"Especially for Miss Addie. Thank you for her love and care for each one of us," says shy Katherine.
"And Lord, thank you for Eddie," I say, my voice filled with pathos.
"Amen!" we all say together and I watch as my foster children pick up their forks and dig in to the meal. I see contentment in these children, happiness, peace, everything a child deserves and everything Eddie would have wanted our children to have.
Eddie, I pray silently, you were right. It is all right. Everything did turn out okay. I hope you're looking down on us from heaven. I love you, more than the moon.
And now, with Eddie still on my mind, I pick up my own fork, and join the children in a joyous feast.
© Copyright 2016 Corinne Smith. All rights reserved.