Summary: (addendum to the story Reflected Images)
Word Count: 600
The snow started to fall in earnest as he rode toward the little lake not far outside of Virginia City. Sport shook the gathering flakes from his mane. Adam Cartwright had been making this trip everyday since late spring, since Maggie had been so brutally taken from him. A single bullet had ended her life and now she lay buried on the land that she had loved. And although Adam continued to function as his father’s partner and his brothers’ mentor, the greater part of him lay buried here with his beloved Maggie.
Adam stopped beside her snow-covered grave and dismounted. He sat on the log he had placed there and said, “Well, Maggie mine, it’s almost Christmas again.” He remembered their last Christmas together. Finally, they had both stripped away all their fears and let themselves enjoy the deep feelings they held for each other. The holiday had been full of family and fun and promise for the New Year. But the one thing that seemed to pull all the pieces of the season together was the tree.
The Cartwright tradition of the three boys going out to bring in the family tree had continued as they rode toward a pine-covered meadow. Adam had left Hoss and Joe arguing over the merits of which tree was best and went to look for the “perfect” specimen. There it was! A perfectly shaped tree about six feet tall and the darkest of green in color. He cut it quickly and returned to his still arguing brothers.
Adam remembered Maggie’s face the night he brought the tree to her. The look was one of pure delight. They had put the tree next to the rocker and decorated it with ribbons and candles and popcorn. She had made it all so real for him.
It was not that he didn’t love Christmas but when Adam was old enough to remember, it had been just he and his father on their way west. Ben did the very best he could for his young son but they were usually in a strange place, with strangers. When Inger entered their lives, Adam had his first taste of a real family Christmas, only to have it taken away. But by then he had Hoss and it became important to him to see that his brother’s Christmases were as happy as he could make them. By the time Marie entered their lives, Adam felt he was getting too old for the magic of the season. Then Joe and again it was important for him to make sure his two younger brothers would have treasured memories.
But sharing the last holiday season with Maggie had reawaken that little boy need for the feelings that only come at this time of year. That had been her gift to him and she hadn’t even known she was giving it.
Adam reached out and brushed the snow from the name on the granite marker. “Thank you, Maggie mine—Merry Christmas.” The cold light of the winter’s evening began to fade as Adam and Sport made their way home.
The ribbons that hung on the little pine next to the stone fluttered in the wind.