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The Mourning After…

The Mourning After…

I spent some wonderful summers in Richmond, VA as an intern.  I learned a great deal, featured in the local newspaper and news station.  It was truly an amazing experience.  #SteeleThankful for it.  I wanted to master the art of reading 19th Century manuscript before I departed my final summer in Virginia.  It wasn’t until I came across primary documents with black borders that I became more intrigued.  My good southern friends would refer to it as, “mourning” stationary/letter.

What is a mourning letter you ask?  A mourning letter in the 19th Century was stationary paper with black borders.  For example, the border would symbolize if the person writing the letter has experienced the loss of a  loved one.  The width of the border depended on the sender’s state of grief and/or the timeline of the passing.  Basically the  current emotional state of the sender.  The letter (featured photo) that was written by Mrs. Jefferson Davis (First Lady of the Confederacy) addressed in August of 1899 shows the presence of the black border.

From research I was reminded of the death of the President’s daughter, Varina “Winnie” Davis in 1898.   In true super sleuth, Archivist mode we are able to piece the story together of how Mrs. Davis was dealing with the grief internally from the width of the borders on her letters, and of course the letter itself.

(Sidenote: Have you thought about why its customary to wear black to funerals?)  There was documentation of a woman who wore black for years after her husband died.  Proof that she grieved for over five years!  Interesting, right?

After during research in the archives and losing my father in 2013, I found myself ironically wearing a lot of black clothing. Well, I still do, for other reasons. Lol.  It didn’t hit me until my  last year of school that I was not allowing myself to grieve.  Similar to the people that were writing with the black borders in the 19th century, and wearing black garments, I had to realize that the void of losing a loved one will always be present.  I must allow the borders of my own stationary paper to become narrow.  People have to go in order for us to grow.  I must continue to grow in strength.  Mind, body, and soul.

Day 29 – “Choices” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 29 – “Choices” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the challenge (insert sad face here). I chose to post everyday, and I’m happy about the outcome.

Now, I’m ready to talk about “Choices.”  You can choose your destiny.  I’m sure you’ve heard that, over, and over, and over again.  Our life’s journey is based upon the choices that we make.  One choice can change the course of your life forever.

Spending my summers in Virginia was a choice.  I either had to decide to stay in Michigan or go for what ended up being the last summer of the program that I was fortunate to be apart of for two summers in a row.  Without hesitation I made the right choice to be a leader that summer, and became apart of some unbelievable moments such as the one in the photo.

My last summer in Richmond, Virginia, the interns of the Museum of the Confederacy were able to tour the Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse. It was pouring down raining but we pressed on!  The court is still being used today so cell phones were not allowed in the building and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t have my digital camera (Still kicking myself).  We were able to go through the entire courthouse including the office of President Jefferson Davis, the court room that President Davis trial took place, and the door and stairs that President Davis exited after the trial.

Yes, you read that correctly, I said trial.  At the end of the Civil War the President of the Confederacy was on trial in the courthouse where I am standing.  He exited these doors.  You know who else was tried here, Mr. Mike Vick, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I know you’re probably wondering why am I mentioning these two men.  They were tried in this courthouse over 200 years apart.  It boils down to a choice.  A choice that they made landed them in this place, with someone else making a decision for them that would change the rest of their lives.

I’m not here to reflect on their choices, but I am here to tell you that it’s about a choice.  Our choices, both good and bad effect the course of our life’s journey.  We must also realize that we can be redeemed from our bad choices though.  What are you going to do with that second chance?  I’ve made some bad choices.  I’m sure we’ve all made some bad choices, but how are you going to change the negative into a positive?

You have the opportunity to begin again.  There will be people that will continue to judge you for your bad choices.  SO…WHAT!  Don’t allow them to decide your destiny.  You are in control! You have a choice to make.  As we close out the challenge I ask the same question at the end of my post, right?  Take advantage of your second chance, and continue to strive to make the BEST choice.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?