On the day after Roger Clemens adds the word “misremember” into the American lexicon and the Mavericks try desperately to slow down their own suspect perimeter defense, ship off their only big men capable of matching up with Tim Duncan and Yao Ming, and wreck whatever locker room chemistry they have, my thoughts are on the real stable and certain force in my life, the love of my life: my sweetheart of almost 19 years, Carrie-Anne.
In May 1989 my heart was captured by this beautiful girl in the overall shorts and Keds behind the wheel of that little Plymouth Horizon. She agreed to be mine for good in November that year. And then in February 2001, I recommitted to her all over again.
I was struck that month by a letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou in July 1861 to his wife Sarah. He wrote the letter to her as his 2nd Rhode Island division was being moved to the Battle of Bull Run. And that letter spoke to me. It articulated so well the deep feelings I have for my wife. It expressed so perfectly the shame and the regret I feel for all the times I’ve acted selfishly and foolishly toward her and our relationship. And it summed up perfectly my desires to love her and please her for all eternity.
I remember sitting Carrie-Anne down on the couch in our living room in Mesquite and reading her that letter seven years ago, especially the line about washing out with my tears “every little spot upon your happiness.”
And I’ll read it again to her tonight.
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government and to pay my debt.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless; it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come flooding over me and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me that I shall return to my loved one unharmed.
If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you. And when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights. Always. Always. And if there is a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
Yours always and forever,
I love you, Carrie-Anne. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Yours always and forever,