Recently my daughter, Annie Martin, told of her illness, Scarlet Fever, followed by Rheumatic Fever, and then death. What Annie did not know, could not know, was the terrible grief and guilt I suffered for years following her death. You see, when Annie failed to get stronger after her Scarlet Fever illness, she wrote to me telling me of her weakness and difficulty breathing. In an effort to make her feel better, I remained calm, almost apathetic to her symptoms, telling her she would be fine. And, as you know, shortly there after, she died while I watched, helpless to do anything.
For 3 years after my precious Annie passed, I kept a mourning diary or journal in which I poured my guilt and all encompassing grief. The following entry was January 11, 1863, 7 weeks after her death. “It is 7 weeks today since our darling bade us farewell and as I struggle with this uncontrollable, almost fierce agony, I cry out, ‘Oh Lord! How long__how long__my soul pines in this lovely twilight to have my child present with me as in times past__to watch her gentle movements, her calm, peaceful face, to hear her sweet low voice, her pleasant, yet almost inaudible laugh.”
And here…2 years after she passed…”Sabbath eve, October 16, 1864. Two years today Annie complained of feeling severely ill and in looking back, it shocks me to recollect how apathetic I was, the security I felt on her account. Her look, the dress she wore, her manner come up before me as vivid and lifelike this Sabbath afternoon, as on that dull, heavy October morning. Oh Annie, my beloved, how dear you are to us still. How often your sisters’ eyes fill with tears, as some simple memory comes over them, of days gone by. I haven’t yet quite learned to say, “Thy will be done.”
At Hazelwood, on the parlor wall is a picture of me taken shortly after the time of Annie’s
passing. I’m in mourning dress, and the sorrow, guilt and pain I felt because of loss is clearly
on my face.