With a start Kimberly recognized her grandfather as the young man, Peter Bennett. He had died before she was born, so she didn’t have any memories of him other than old photographs and fantastically romantic stories told by her grandmother. They had met at the war office, where he worked after sustaining a traumatic injury to his leg in France. He kept the leg but was no longer fit for duty and walked with a limp for the remainder of his life. Kimberly eagerly drew closer to the pair to listen to their words.
“I know it’s difficult, Maeve, but you have to keep going. Don’t give up on your dreams.” Peter’s voice was gentle but insistent. He gave Maeve’s shoulder a subtle nudge with his own. “I know that I believe in you. I’m sure that Timothy does as well…”
Maeve remained still.
“I know it’s what I should do,” she replied softly. “But ever since Timothy’s death, I have felt so empty inside. Instead of grief or pain I feel nothing at all, and that’s what scares me the most. If I am truly empty inside, there is nothing left for me to give. How can I write when I am nothing but a shell?”
Peter looked down for a moment. Finally he said, “That’s what war does to us, you know. It sucks the soul right out of the man. It’s too much to continue to feel all the pain, the sorrow, the absolute horror. We become blind to the ugliness to protect ourselves from feeling it’s darkness. But when we are so totally blind that we no longer see darkness, we are also blinded from the light, and what is good and right. Don’t let the darkness take over your sight as well, Maeve. You have too much light within you to not share it. Keep writing your stories, my little authoress. They are more than just idle entertainment to these people. They remind them of forgotten feelings of love, family, and home. And more than that, they remind them of something we all need in this world...hope.”
Maeve leaned into Peter’s side and he wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close to him.
The scene began to fade with the now familiar haze enveloping Kimberly, but this time she protested.
“Wait! Stop! I want to see more!” she cried. Her cheeks were wet with tears that she didn’t even know she had shed. It had been gut-wrenching to see the naked grief in her grandmother’s face, the desolation of her loss combined with the drained soul of a woman surrounded by war and hopelessness. It was one thing to hear stories about what it was like to live during the war, but it was quite another thing to witness first hand the devastation and loss it created, especially written across the face of one you loved. Kimberly wished that she had asked her grandmother more about her life when she was alive. Most of her memories were of her grandmother’s stories: fanciful, adventurous, happy. Kimberly now understood more clearly that her grandmother’s real story was one of undying love, courage in the face of darkness, and hope for a better world to come. If only she could sit down with her one more time.