The Final Goodbye By: J.L. Jacobs © 2015 (Full Length Book)

Out of sheer desperation, Sophia Lancaster flees her small town of Wellington, Ohio in order to become a mail-order-bride. Naive and full of hope, her world is shattered once again as she is quickly wed to Travis Ewing who seems to despise her from the moment they meet.

Over time, they fall madly in love with each other but Fate has other plans in store for them. This is a suspenseful and very emotional love story that is set in the 1890's where history comes alive. You will laugh and cry over Sophia's journey through hell and back as she fights for the only thing she truly believes in: Love.

*I love to hear your comments and feedback but please DO NOT POST ANY SPOILER ALERTS OR GIVE AWAY STORY INFO. This ruins the reading experience for others.* This is a rough draft version. This book is for mature readers over the age of 17 only. It does contain some profanity and a few graphic love scenes. The synopsis will be re-written, and I will be updating the book with edits.

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30. Chapter Thirty: The Final Goodbye

Chapter Thirty: The Final Goodbye

 

 

December 25, 1891

I am so tired. Today has been such a wonderful day that I am saddened to see it come to an end. Mrs. Cox, Rachel, Mother, and myself all did our fair share to create a fantastic Christmas feast for everyone. I had to take breaks in order to sit down as by body just could not keep up. The children laughed in delight over all of their presents, and I have felt such a joy within my heart as I watched my niece Jocelyn play with my darling little Maddie. Jocelyn will be turning one in ten days and Madeline is now over eight months old. She is such a beautiful baby with dark brown hair that is almost black, just like Travis's hair, and she has such beautiful light blue eyes with just a hint of green around her pupils. She is such an absolute joy to me and everyone else. I call her my little miracle baby because she had been conceived before my first surgery and survived that, she survived despite my bleeding episodes, and she even survived while I was being attacked from the inside by my cancer. How in the world she ended up being so healthy and strong still mystifies me. But I am so very thankful because she has only enriched my life. I give thanks every day to God for allowing me to be her Mother. A few days ago I swear I even heard her say "Mama." Hope and Mikey love their little sister so much and they are very protective of her already. I love those two kids as if they were my own. I know that I didn't carry them or they may not have been in my life too awful long, but I still hold such a large amount of love within my heart for them both. So much so that it almost hurts. Tonight, after the children were tucked away in their beds, I read them each a story, then I kissed each of them on their cheeks and told them how much I loved them. Tonight was the first night Mikey ever said he loved me back and it made me feel... complete somehow. He smiled as I cried tears of happiness, then he said, "I mean it Mama Sophia, I really do love you. Thank you for such a wonderful Christmas. I will never forget it." After they fell asleep, I couldn't help but to stare at them each a little while longer as if I couldn't get enough. As per our nightly ritual now, Travis held me close during our nightly bath. Despite how skinny I have become over the last few months, he still looks at me as though I am the most beautiful woman in the world. After we were nestled inside our blankets in bed, we made such gentle love to each other and my body still thrums with pleasure. He is my love and I am his. I feel as though I am at such peace right now and I can feel no pain at all in this moment of time as I sit here writing. Perhaps that is my own special Christmas gift since the pain has been so bad lately. Even doing the simplest of things causes me to hurt. Pain has taken over my life and how I live it so I can only assume that the cancer has spread even more. But tonight, it's gone and I have almost forgotten what it feels like to not feel it. I am smiling now infact. Life is good, I am blessed, and I am so thankful to have so many people in my life that I love and who love me back. It just doesn't get much better than that as I have everything I have always dreamed of.

 

     With a shaky hand, Sophia set down the quill and put the cork stopper inside the ink well. She closed her journal as a single tear escaped her eye and fell upon the now-worn leather cover. Sophia turned the little knob on the small lantern sitting on her writing desk so that the flame could be extinguished. Then she walked very carefully over to the bed on wobbly legs where Travis was lying on his side waiting for her. Sophia climbed in and pulled the covers over herself as Travis wrapped his arm around her. She felt so warm and safe lying there in his arms like that. So content. The full moon outside cast just enough light into the room that Sophia could still see her husband as she faced him while lying on her right side. He smiled softy down at her and kissed her gently on the lips. "I love you Sophia." he whispered. She peered at him with loving eyes and whispered back, "And I love you Travis. Thank you for giving me the family I have always dreamed of and most of all, thank you for loving me. You have made me the happiest woman in the world." She fell asleep in his arms with just a trace of a smile upon her face.

 

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     Travis was woken up out of a very sound sleep when the roosters began to crow at the dawn's first light. He had been dreaming of Sophia and it was still fresh in his mind. They had been walking hand in hand down the busy city sidewalks of Dallas and there were crowds of people walking past them in both directions. A few times he lost grip of her hand when someone walking by would jostle her. He would have to walk much faster in order to catch up to her but eventually clasped her hand within his own again. She'd look over and lovingly smile at him and he would smile back. They were so happy. Then the crowds of people became even thicker and the next time she got jostled away and his hand lost contact with hers, he became strangely panicked. He called out her name several times while looking all around him. There were people everywhere but he just couldn't seem to find Sophia. Then he could hear her call out to him, "Travis? Travis? Where are you?" He yelled out to her, "I am here Sophia! Where are you?" More people walked by; they bumped into him and his panic began to rise even more. He needed to find his wife! He needed to hold her hand! He knew he shouldn't have let go like that! Where was she? Finally, he caught sight of her as she walked right by him coming from the opposite direction. He noticed she was wearing a dress of the brightest white. He turned around and reached his arm out so that she could grab his hand but she was walking further and further away from his reach. "Sophia!" he called out desperately, "Wait! Don't leave me! Grab on to my hand!" She smiled back at him with a look of pure love in her wide eyes. "Goodbye Travis!" she called out to him as she once again became lost in the throng of people, "I love you always and forever. This shall be our final goodbye." Travis laid there breathing heavily and could feel that his body was covered in a thin layer of sheen sweat. The dream had seemed so real that his heart began to pound from deep within his chest. It had truly unsettled him! For some reason he couldn't get that damned dream out of his head. It was as if he could see it all over again so clearly in his mind. He rolled from his back over on his side so that he could face his sleeping wife. As he looked down at her, he noticed the small smile on her lips. She looked so very beautiful and serenely peaceful. He bent his head down to gently kiss her forehead; it had felt cold upon the touch of his lips. Almost too cold. His eyes widened as he placed his hand over her chest. After several seconds he realized that he could feel no heartbeat. "No." he whispered frantically, "No. No.....! Sophia. Wake up. Please darlin'! Sophia?" He gently shook her by the shoulder but there was no movement. Her eyes remained closed. He knew in that moment that she was gone. Lost to him until the day he died when they could once again be reunited in Heaven. Travis couldn't get that bloody dream out of his mind as he could distinctly recall her voice saying to him, "Goodbye Travis! I love you always and forever. This shall be our final goodbye." He sat straight up in bed as a tremendous feeling of grief consumed his body. He began crying out as his body heaved with his sobs of despair. No! He wasn't ready for this! Not so soon! The doctors were supposed to tell him when it was getting closer! They never said anything! He wasn't prepared for this. Not yet. He didn't even get to tell her goodbye! He felt cheated in that moment. Robbed of the time he thought they still had left with each other. Only hours before they had made love! He rolled over onto his side once more and covered his arms over her cold body as he held onto her tightly. "Oh my God Sophia. I am not ready for this. Please, come back to me!" She was so damned cold! Travis started to feel as if he couldn't breathe as his tears choked up from inside of him. His throat was painfully constricted. "Oh my love." he cried out hoarsely. He had no idea how long he had laid there like that as he held on to Sophia's lifeless body.

 

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     Travis's cries of despair, intermingled with the screams of Madeline, had alerted Mrs. Cox who was down in the kitchen getting ready to prepare the breakfast meal. She ran upstairs as fast as her ample body would allow. Mikey was standing out in the hallway and his eyes were wide with fright. Seconds later, Hope came out of the room and looked over at Mrs. Cox with tears in her own eyes, "Why is my Papa crying like that Mrs. Cox? It's scaring me." Mrs. Cox stood there as she became instantly overwhelmed with emotion. She held out her arms so that the children could come to her. They ran over and she held the children at her bosom for many moments while she silently sobbed. Baby Madeline was screaming her little heart out all the while from inside the girls' bedroom. More than likely she needed to be fed and was also alarmed over hearing Travis's cries of despair. Mrs. Cox then forced herself to take some deep breaths. She needed to pull herself together. The children were frightened and the baby was still screaming. They all needed her. She had to be strong for them despite how consumed with grief she now felt. She had born six children of her own and lost five of them. She had considered Sophia to be like a daughter of sorts. This was not going to be easy for any of them even if everyone but the children knew this day would come. She just didn't think it would have come this quickly. Even though Sophia had been growing weaker over the last few months, she had still seemed so happy and vibrant. So... alive. No, she wasn't at all prepared for this moment and knew that no one else would be either. Her heart literally broke over hearing Travis. It was more than obvious that he hadn't expected Sophia to die so quickly like this either. Mrs. Cox couldn't help herself; she broke down into another fit of tears. "Oh Mikey!" she cried out in between broken sobs, "Wh-wh- why don't you t-take Hope downstairs into the kitchen for me. I need you to run as fast as you can over to the cookhouse and tell Mr. Cox that I need to see him straight away. Then I want you to go over to the Lancaster's cabin and wake them up. Don't say anything, just tell them I need them over here please. I will get Maddie and bring her downstairs so she can be fed. I know that she must be awfully h-hungry." Mikey solemnly nodded his head in acknowledgement and he ran off to do her bidding with Hope right behind him. Mrs. Cox walked into the bedroom where little Maddie was screaming her little heart out. Her face was very red and big fat tears streamed down her face. Mrs. Cox picked the baby up and carried her on her hip back down to the kitchen. Travis's wails could still be heard once she was down there and she had to try really hard not to give in to another fit of tears despite how horribly sad she was feeling. She walked down to the larder, grabbed a pail of milk, and then went back up to the kitchen. She set the screaming baby down into her high chair while she warmed up some milk for her. "Oh Madeline," she whispered despondently, "I am so sorry that you will never get to remember how wonderfully special your mother was. I will do my utmost best to tell you all about her as you grow up."

 

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     On the sunny morning of December 28, 1891, Sophia Ann Lancaster-Ewing lay ensconced in her glossy mahogany casket that the ranch hands had made special just for her. They even took the extra time to paint it white and apply several layers of a glossy lacquer. They worked tirelessly for two whole days making sure it was just right and on  She died at the young age of twenty-three after losing her battle with cancer. Just before her casket was to be lowered into the ground below, each member of her family and friends took turns as they placed a single white long-stemmed rose on top of it, while they each said their final goodbyes to her. Both her doctors, Halsted and May, along with Elsie Prescott, Mr. and Mrs. Hartley, and all of the ranch hands that had come to know her paid their individual respects. The only people missing from her service was her best friend Maybelle, her husband Hank, and their son, Tyler as they just couldn't make it up there in time. Louis, Lucinda, Rachel, Joseph, and Jocelyn planned on making a trip back to Wellington so that they could hold a memorial service there for all the people who had known and loved her in that town. Travis agreed that he would go too, bringing Mikey, Hope, and Madeline with him so the townspeople could meet Sophia's little girl and the other loves of her life. Louis declared that he would commission a small memorial plaque to be put onto the front of the bank in tribute to his eldest daughter. Lucinda suggested that they also plant a willow sapling in the grass behind the bank as well as one to fill in the missing tree on the long driveway at the ranch from when the big storm came last year and caused one to fall down. The trees would be something they all could look at and remember her by, and it was such a fitting tribute because the willow had always been her favorite kind of tree.

 

     Her parents, Louis and Lucinda, stood over her casket. Her father was so choked up that he was unable to speak. Her mother quietly whispered through her tears, "Sophia, you were the light in so many people's eyes. You have always been such a joy to me as a child, and I am proud to see what a wonderful woman you grew to be. You have such a loving heart and a nurturing and forgiving soul. No matter what challenges life put you through, you faced them with a determination that has inspired us all. I am glad that I was able to see how happy you were as all your dreams came true. I shall miss you so much but I know that you are in a good place now where you can no longer feel any more pain. I wished that you hadn't been taken away from us so soon, or in the way that you have, but I need to put my faith and trust in God that he had a plan and a purpose for you. I love you sweetheart. Rest in peace. Until we meet again." Louis grabbed Lucinda's hand and roughly squeezed it. His throat felt restricted from his overwhelming emotions. He had never felt so bereft in all his life as he stood there looking down upon her casket where his eldest daughter's lifeless body lay in an eternal slumber. "Baby girl, my sweetheart... I will miss you dearly. I love you and wished so much that I had told you that more than I have. Unlike your mother, I am finding it hard to put my faith in God that he had a purpose for you. I don't believe that he should have taken you away so quickly. I struggle with so many conflicting thoughts in my head as to why it had to be you. You were such a beautiful person both on the inside and out. I am happy that all of your dreams have come true but I feel like you have been cheated. You should have been able to enjoy those blessings for a lot longer than you have! I feel angry about that. I would have gladly forfeited my own life just to be able to have you enjoy yours for much more longer. I miss you so much that my whole being hurts. I love you baby girl. Always."

 

     Mrs. Cox, who held baby Madeline in her arms, took her turn to pay her respects. "Oh Sophia. How you have made me laugh so many times! I will never forget the day that you tried to behead your first chicken and what a muddled mess you made of it! I fear the memories of that day will live on for a long, long time in the minds of those who witnessed everything. I don't ever remember anything ever making me laugh so hard like that! I will always admire your courage, strength, determination, and the capacity of love you had for so many people, including myself. I miss our daily routines and our long talks. I will miss you period. You will always be in my heart sweet child. I know I never told you this before, and I should have, but I love you Sophia. I regret not ever telling you that before. Thank you for loving us all and being apart of my life as you went out of your way to make sure that I felt both respected and loved. Rest in peace sweet child." Mr. Cox stood next to her and kept his sentiments nice and simple as was his usual style. "You sure were such a perty little thang. I'm gonna miss yer sweet smile." Mr. Cox stood there feeling as if his heart was broken as his very rare show of tears fell from his eyes. Mrs. Cox, knowing the only time he had ever cried before was when they had to bury five of their six children,  felt her heart skip a beat for her husband knowing that he was hurting something fierce right now. She could see it in his eyes. She leaned into him and kissed his cheek then they stepped aside.

 

     Next came Rachel, along with Joseph, who held Jocelyn in his arms. Rachel began sobbing again as she looked down at her sister's casket. It took her a few moments to compose herself enough just to be able to speak. "Sophia, my big sister, how I will miss you so! We have shared a lifetime of memories that I shall always treasure. You were the one person in my life that I could tell anything to. You knew all my secrets and were always such a big part of my life that it's hard to even comprehend that you will no longer be a part of it. I feel so sad and angry that you are no longer here with us! With me. I cannot help but to think of all the times we have talked about when we would grow up and get married and have babies of our own. We always said that we wanted our children to be as close to one another as you and I were. I promise to make sure that Madeline and Jocelyn will be able to grow up together so they will be as close as we were, even if that means that Joseph, Jocelyn, the new baby, and myself continues to live here in Texas. Yes big sister, you heard me right. I am expecting another baby again but I didn't have the chance to tell you with everything being so busy before and on Christmas. I actually planned on telling you the following day but, well, you left us before I could but now you know. I wish you were here to see my new baby come into the world and if it's another girl, despite what I have always told you in the past, I shall name her after you. I-I will miss you so very much! I love you." Rachel was once again consumed with grief and bent over as she sobbed. "Why God did you take her from us like that? Why?" she screamed at the sky furiously. She stood back up and used a handkerchief to dab her tears away. Joseph wrapped the arm that wasn't holding Jocelyn around Rachel's shoulders and held on as he said his own goodbye. "Sophia, ever since I met you, I knew you had something special inside of you. You were like a true sister to me. I will always remember you with a fond heart. I love you. Rest in peace." The three of them stepped aside to allow Mikey and Hope to approach after Lucinda quietly told them it was their turn to pay their respects. 

 

     Mikey stood there silently and felt so much hurt and guilt for how horrible he had been to his step-mother when they had first met. He looked at her casket feeling shame as he said, "I am so sorry for the way I acted towards you Mama Sophia. You were always so kind to me and loved me even when I was so rotten to you. I hope you can forgive me for that. I  really do love you. I wish I didn't wait so long to say that to you. Thank you for teaching me how to play the piano and I will try to practice as much as I can." Then he began to openly weep. Mrs. Cox hurried over to him and grabbed his hand within her own. "Mikey, its okay. She loved you and she knew that you loved her too." He looked up at her with reddened eyes that were so full of remorse that she couldn't help but cry for the pain he was feeling. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged Mikey extra long as he cried.

 

     Meanwhile, Hope was crying herself. "Mama Sophia, I sure wish you would come back! I miss you so much. We all need you. Papa and Maddie needs you. Papa's heart is hurting so badly. What about Maddie? Can't ya come back for her?" She stomped her foot down at the ground really hard and shouted out, "This just ain't fair!" Then she ran over to Lucinda and wrapped her arms around Lucinda's leg as she cried furiously. 

 

     Travis was the very last one to approach the coffin and he stood there as tears poured down his face. "I will love you always and forever Sophia. May you watch and guide over all of us. I miss you so much already and fear that I will always do so. You came into my life like a whirlwind and I couldn't help but fall head over heels in love with you even if I was a stubborn ass about it when we first met. I firmly believe that we were soulmates, and like you have always said, Fate brought us together. I wish that we could have had more time together. I wish that you could be here to see our daughter grow up. Mikey and Hope as well. You have made such a huge impact in our lives in such a short amount of time. I-I, well, dammit! I just didn't have enough time with you!" He paused as another wave of despair took over him. Several minutes went by before he continued in a hoarse whisper, "Rest in peace m-my love. I w-will always love you darlin' and I hope you are at peace now." He continued to stand there as everyone else gathered around him. There was a bag-piper present who started to play Amazing Grace while the casket was lowered slowly into the ground. Loud sobs could be heard over the solemn music. Sophia Lancaster Ewing was then laid to rest for all of eternity.

 

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December 25, 1892

 

     Travis sat on the ground at the cemetery near Sophia's grave stone where there were several bouquets of fresh flowers, one of them being from him and the children. For the first time ever, he opened the leather bound journal that used to be Sophia's and spent many hours reading each and every journal entry that Sophia had written. Some of the entry's had made him laugh out loud despite his tears, like when he read the part from when she was on the train ride going to Texas and had overheard the married couple in the next room who were having marital relations. Poor, sweet, naive Sophia had written about how scared she had been for herself and for the woman that she swore was being abused. He laughed even harder when he read where she told the waitress on the train about her suspicions of abuse and how the woman had asked if she was married. When Sophia had said no, the woman chuckled and told her she would understand the situation better once she was. Many pages and journal entries months later, Sophia had finally confessed that she finally understood what the waitress had meant. Oh how he loved her! So many memories that she had written about. He felt as if he had a glimpse into her soul and it almost felt as if she were somehow present, there in the moment with him, as he read all of her cherished memories. The whole journal had chronicled the very beginning of their relationship from beginning to end. Her fears, her hurt and anger, her confessions, her declarations of love. They were all her inner-most thoughts. He finally got to the last page where she had written her final entry on Christmas night in 1891. That was exactly one year ago today. Tears of both sadness and happiness poured down his face. After reading the last entry, it was almost as if she could sense that she was going to bed that night for the last time. He sat there staring at the page as if in a trance. His body was wracked with so many emotions. As he picked up the book from his lap to close it, he spied a tiny corner from a piece of paper sticking out ever-so-slightly near the end of the book where there will still some blank pages. He turned to the page and saw a folded paper. Opening it up he read:

 

August 25, 1891

Dearest Travis,

As I sit here writing this letter to you, you are sleeping so peacefully upon our bed. Today you have surprised me with such a beautiful wedding and I have never felt so loved nor so happy in my entire life. Thank you for thoughtfully giving me a wedding that I can look back upon with such fond and happy memories. You have no idea how much all your hard work and efforts putting all of that together means to me. I have never felt so beautiful than I have today and it's all because of you.The best part was being able to say our vows to one another in front of everyone in our lives that we each love and cherish the most. 

I stood there next to you today, after we said our vows to one another, and was somewhat perplexed over how overly emotional everyone seemed to be with their sobbing and crying. Before I even walked down the aisle, my father hugged me as if it were my last day on earth or something. He started crying pretty hard and I had been strangely confused over his display of emotions that were so unlike him. But it was only after we said our vows, particularly my vows, when it finally dawned on me that you all must have known I was dying and hadn't said anything to me about it. At first, for a very brief moment, I was hurt and upset that none of you had told me. I thought it was strange how Dr. May and Dr. Halsted never once said what they found during my last surgery except that they were able to remove some of my cancerous growths. When they continued with my weekly treatments, I assumed that there had still been some hope for me. 

Then I stood there remembering how my Mother, Father, Rachel, and Joseph had all moved down here. I thought it was truly because they had wanted all of us to be closer to one another like they had said. I had even wished at one point that they were all there with me shortly after you and I first met because I felt so lonely and missed them so much. It almost seemed as if my wish had come true somehow. In a way, I suppose it has. But now I have realized that they did so only because they knew I was dying. No worries though, my love. Even though I now know the truth, I am not upset. In all actuality I am happy that you all love and care for me so much that you are doing everything you possibly can to make whatever time I have left on this earth memorable. I can see it all so clearly now and it makes me so very happy to have you all here with me until it's my time to pass. I am so blessed to have you all in my life. I am no longer scared. 

I have told you this many hundreds of times, but I want to really emphasis how much I absolutely love you. You are my soul mate. Fate brought us together that day when I read your advertisement in that newspaper. I truly believe that. I have never felt so compelled to do anything in my life before like I did when I left my family and friends to come start a new life with you, Mikey, and Hope. I truly believe with all my heart that we were all meant to be in each other's lives as a family for a reason. Even though I know our time together will not be as long as we both have wished, I will treasure each day and night that we get to spend together until I do draw my final breath. Please promise me that once I am gone you will not spend the rest of your days filled with hurt, anguish, or remorse like you did with Rebecca. We had a wonderful life. Make the most of the time you have left on this earth to raise the children with love, honor, and respect. Do everything you can to make them feel cherished. Keep our families close together. I want to die knowing that one day Jocelyn and Madeline will be as close and Rachel and I have been. I want you to open your heart to love another woman again someday. For yourself and for the children. I love you Travis Lee Ewing. Never forget that. You have made my dreams come true and for that, I shall always be grateful. 

Love Always,

Sophia Ann Ewing

 

     Travis clutched the note tightly to his chest as he looked up at the sky shouting out in a choked up sob, "I love you too, Sophia Ewing!" With that, he tucked the note back inside the journal and closed the book. He stood up and placed one single kiss on the cold grave stone. As tears continued to stream down his face, he smiled...and with that, he said to her his final goodbye

The End

 

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*Note to readers: There is a very important sequel to this book called, The First Hello. Read the epilogue in the next chapter of this book to find out more. Things aren't always what they may seem.....

I want to thank each and every one of you who have read this book from the beginning to the end. It has been a touching  journey for me, as the writer, while I told the story of Sophia Lancaster-Ewing. There have been many moments where I sat here crying as I typed out this story, and some that have genuinely made me laugh out loud. There are many authentic facts which I have incorporated into this book which are historically accurate. As a modern day resident of Wellington, Ohio, I have thoroughly enjoyed making some of my town's history come alive through this book and I look forward to doing more of the same in the sequel, The First Hello!

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