Death had come knocking twice in as many weeks and the loss of her Papa left Alice devastated. Her only solace was believing that he and her mother were finally together once again.
Papa had talked to her about dying, and told her not to grieve for him when his time came; for he had tried to be an honorable man and being re-united with the love of his life would be his long-awaited reward. He said, “I have been fortunate enough to have experienced great love. I have loved someone with all of my heart and I believe your mother loved me with all of hers.”
As with Grace, Jacob and Alice decided to celebrate Papa’s life and laughed as they reminisced about the day she and Papa saw Jacob and Grace together, and how that happenstance had almost cost them their future together.
Jacob cupped Alice’s face in his hands and said, “don’t fret my dearest darling. Just think of how rich we are from having known them and having had them in our lives.” Jacob had a way with words, as had Grace. He also had a way of making Alice feel as if she was the most important person in the world. Their bond, she thought, was going to be unbreakable.
Six months later, Jacob had news. A hotel in San Francisco had suffered major damage from the 1906 earthquake. It had been renovated to serve as City Hall but now there were talks to convert it back to its original beauty and purpose. A previous client had put forth his name to help evaluate the restructuring, and he would be leaving in three days.
Taking the job would mean that he would be gone for several weeks. He hated the thought of leaving Alice, but he knew that she would be fine, as she was a strong-willed and independent little spitfire.
She would miss him but she also knew that it would be a wonderful opportunity to further his already established, but not yet quite renowned career. She expressed her dismay that not only was he was going to the other side of the country, he was going to the very spot where just a few years earlier, a catastrophic event had occurred.
He assured her that statistically, it would be another hundred years before such a calamity would happen again, and with a smile said, “besides. I will make sure that the new hotel will withstand mother nature’s mighty wrath, should she decide to shake things up again.” Alice said, “don’t tease me. You know I couldn’t bear it if something happened to you.”
Jacob said, “nothing is going to happen to me, except finding it agonizingly painful to be separated from you.”
It was the day of departure and Alice was unusually melancholy. Jacob tried to cheer her up but he understood. He knew that his heart would feel empty and incomplete without her, but he promised to write every day.
Jacob boarded the Transcontinental Express and blew kisses to Alice from the window. The loud whistle sounded and the train slowly started moving down the tracks. Alice said a prayer as she stood and waved until her beloved was completely out of sight.
A week later, she received a letter.
My dearest darling,
I arrived without incident, although as you
can imagine, it was a long and tiring trip.
I am getting ready to settle in for the night
but wanted to send my love and tell you
that I am thinking of you and already
missing you terribly.
Your loyal and faithful husband,
Alice closed her eyes and whispered, “thank you.” Her prayer for Jacob’s safe arrival had been answered.
To be continued__________