These 'snowy' thoughts are a result of hundreds of letters 
shared with me by a friend who uncovered them
in an old collapsing barn behind her aunt's house
some sixty years after the War. A story was mysteriously
woven in those letters, something you could only 
imagine happening to a woman caught up in a nightmare
of her own making. Those letters intrigued me. 
I couldn't help thinking—but by God's grace,
that could have been my own story. 
Or perhaps yours. I wrote this after
reading about thirty of those letters. 
Would love to have written the entire story, 
but it was not mine to write. Here, I'm taking
some liberties in an effort to purge it from my
thoughts. Read on and feel the snow fall ever so
gently on your face and hands. Imagine what
Charlotte must have felt as she stepped into another
part of her life. What will she do now?  
It won't snow forever.

In the winter of 1945—
Charlotte stood in the drafty old window of a room that resembled a prison cell, though it was not. She clutched her favorite sweater, actually  her only sweater, tightening it about her tall, thin frame for warmth and security. Releasing her arms, she ran cold fingers over the top of the old radiator that hissed and sang its own sad tune, in a feeble attempt to warm her frail body. She peered out the window from the fourth floor of the psychiatric ward of the Syracuse Hospital watching as the winter storm piled snow against the sides of the buildings below and covered the rooftops. It was beautiful. Cleansing, quiet, soft and steady, going nowhere really, just forming mounds of white against the cold, drab buildings that surrounded the hospital. She thought about snow in a different way than ever before. It fell gently and wantonly, landing wherever the wind blew it. She focused on a single flake that bobbed in the air, hanging for a moment along its descent before landing in some arbitrary spot on the ground. She was a snowflake. One of a kind, so to speak, beautiful on the outside, yet she had no purpose and no real direction except to fall down eventually.

She had hit rock bottom, scarcely remembering how she came to be here, much less the events of the past four months. The shock treatments and hours of therapy, after all was said and done, had been humiliating. She remembered that much. But why worry about it now? It was over. Behind her.

Charlotte wanted to go home, back to reality, though she was ill-at-ease about her past. Her memory and thought stream were slowly returning, albeit she was content to remember little about her treatments and sketchy about the string of events that had led to her admission in the first place. She wondered if she could rise above the scourge, the degrading experiences that led to her plummet. That's what it was, a plummet. She hadn't been a delicate snowflake in the end. She had gone into a free fall and landed brutally, all because of her indiscretions.

 “Forget it, Charlotte,” she said softly. “Home. You're going home. Wherever that is. Whatever that means.”

The War had ended. She was thankful for that. There would always be a place for her, for there was no finer in her profession. The boys were coming home from Europe, now, in much worse shape than she, truth be known. She would gladly give up her space to one of them. And, God willing, she would obsess with the healing of their mangled bodies in due time as she herself healed.

Her small overnight bag lay open on the tightly-made cot. She packed her few personal belongings, closed and fastened the latch, and stepped outside her room into the drafty hallway. Of course, the hallway was cold. There were no radiators outside the rooms. With windows on both ends that rattled in the wind and hardwood floors that creaked underfoot, it looked cold even in the heat of summer. The paint that had been white at one time, was now milky and yellowed. It might as well have been snowing in that long, drab hallway. 

The aid smiled and led her to the elevator.

“Here, Charlotte, let me wrap your scarf about your neck. You’ll need to hold it over your face. You can get a cab at the landing with no wait. At least I hope you can. Do you have your money handy, just inside your purse?”

“Yes, and thanks. Good-bye, Vera. You’ve taken good care of me. I’ll never forget you.”

She had grown quite fond of Vera over the months. She smelled of lavender and her hands were warm. Always warm like they had been wrapped in a flannel blanket. Charlotte could feel them on her neck and the edge of her face as Vera wrapped the scarf around her. They had enjoyed the camaraderie that only those of their profession could understand. For heaven sakes, Charlotte was not a lunatic. She had experienced a nervous breakdown.

But maybe she was getting this same speech Vera gives everybody. Come to think about it, it was no relationship at all. It was like the snow... harsh and cold and temporary. Snow melts. Any camaraderie she may have had with Vera was melting... going away. She would soon be a part of the misty past that was easily forgotten. Another moment when Charlotte would deprive herself of real friendship and stability.

She waved to Vera, praying she would never pass this way again, walked out into the street into the driven snow, and hailed a cab to the train station.

Atlanta, Georgia.

There would be no snow in Atlanta.

I've known many Charlottes in my life who have
fallen hard and cold on the unforgiving ground. 
That same ground that will, in the spring, push 
forth flowers alive and beautiful, reaching upward. 
I've wondered if Charlotte, before her death, found
love in her life. Not an erotic relationship that
turns bitter and dark but a love full of color and life.
God promises us life and then... a more abundant life. 
I can only hope that Charlotte was able to see that love
doesn't begin with loving another person and it 
doesn't begin with loving yourself. It begins with
loving God, because He is love and without him
everything is vanity and vexation.

To be honest, I know what Charlotte did with the rest
of her life, that is, until the letters ended. I read enough
of them to arrive at a conclusion. What I read was
poignant... but not good. She was caught in a trap.
A vice of her own making. She was the picture
of a woman with outward beauty who, during and after
the War years, had the ability to entangle a man
and keep him on a string until she found the "perfect"
one for herself.

The rest of the story is yours.
Draw your own conclusions.
What did Charlotte do? 
What advise would you have given? 
What is usually the end result of deceit and immoral behavior? 
Is there a cure? 
A release?
And is there really a Balm in Gilead?
I would love to know your thoughts. 
And not just women thoughts, please!


  1. First let me say that I love snow. Love it! But I love that you used snow to show her cold lack of direction. Being a person who is praying for God to teach me to love others 'through' Him, I'm sad for Charlotte. I've been that person and I never want to be that person again.
    Great post. I'd love to see more like this one.


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