It's a long drive west from Philadelphia, and thank God that my wife is here. I'm decently skilled in driving, but not nearly as good as she, and in these rural and mountain roads, better Leigh handle driving than me.
Leigh catches the sadness in my eyes, sighs, and turns down the old From Autumn to Ashes album on the stereo.
"Hey," she says. "Talk to me?"
"I'm glad you're here," I finally murmur.
She nods silently, runs a hand through loosely bound, raven-dark hair, and then makes the gentle turn right into Springs.
We're here for the Festival, too, but there is something else that comes first.
A pause. Only the sounds of awed stillness in the Subaru.
"I'm ready," I reply. "It's time."
I turn. Her hand finds mine, lingers, squeezes.
"I love you," she murmurs.
NATHAN JOSIAH YODER
CPL F CO 17TH PA CAVALRY
" I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."
I could almost see him: copper-red wavy hair, ruddy cheeks, quiet, methodical, and strangely gentle amidst the War of Rebellion.
I could almost hear him:
/Chin up, Logan. You wear the Union blue now. You bow to no man./
But with Leigh's help, and the further aid of the state archives, we'd found him here-- home, as he always hoped to be.
I grunted. "Been better."
"That's allowed too."
"I keep thinking I should've been there to the end. That I don't deserve this."
"I know," I murmur, burrowing into the crook of her arm and the folds of her hoodie. "I know."
She pulls loose, then-- crouches, fingers dipping into soft earth, pulling loose a stray gravel chip.
"May this place know peace always," she says.
"It occurs to me. I take comfort," I said, "in having come here together, for another reason."
"High praise," Leigh said, softly, humbly.
"It's the truth," I declared.