26 – Joseph’s miracle (2)

[Thursday, February 2, 2006]

Now, I don’t want to give the impression I was thinking this all out. I couldn’t think! All I could do was feel, but this one thought was sort of mingled up in it. Everything else was groaning and campfire light and smoke – for some reason the smell of smoke was real strong – and rain.

Things are confused. I see myself lying out in the ground by a smoky fire, but I see myself lying on a cot inside a tent – my tent, maybe – begging the boys to help me find some comfortable way to lie down or sit or something! After a while they quit with the wine and went back to whiskey and this time it was better and I could hold it down.

Well. Between the tiredness and the whiskey and the relief after three days’ strain, because we’d whipped ‘em and we didn’t have any more to do right away, and the fever – there I was between two worlds, and in you popped.

Of course I didn’t have any idea you was real, just like you thought at the time. You was just a voice in my head, saying try to remember, Lee, Grant, Appomattox, and the war could be over in the next little while but probably wouldn’t be. I remembered, all right, because here is how I experienced you, my friend, and if it embarrasses you, well so what? It might embarrass you but it ain’t going to kill you. I experienced you like an angel from heaven! You poured out love on me, and I wasn’t so crazy I couldn’t know that something was going on – and suddenly my back stopped hurting!

Just like that, it stopped! Fever gone, everything, from one minute to the next. I never did understand what happened till I came over. In other words, I’m saying in-process-Joseph never did figure it out, just completed-Joseph. And I’m telling you – just bookmark it, as you say – in other versions of my life I hadn’t gotten fixed. But I can’t talk about that, not yet anyway.

Well! As far as the boys knew, the whiskey had finally caught up with me – it was probably four in the morning or something when you appeared – and the night was about over. But they saw me suddenly sleeping and once they settled it that I wasn’t dead – which was their first thought – they knew it was a mercy I could sleep at all. My orderly was right surprised when I woke up the next afternoon wanting coffee and grub. He’d figured me for a long convalescence. Not that I wasn’t plenty sore! But I could move, and I was in one piece, and there was one hell of a lot of work to be done, putting the pieces back together. So I just kept on “sojering.”

Nobody asked how I’d got better – we all had plenty of things on our minds – though a lot of ‘em did congratulate me and tell me they’d figured I was setting out to emigrate.

You think I told anybody what really happened? I did not. Sure upped my whiskey consumption for a while, though. But even there I couldn’t go too far. An angel comes fixes you, you going to go off on a tear and he’s maybe watching? It gave me a sense of being watched over that lasted – as David and you ought to know, though not Katrina, poor little thing.

Are you starting to get a sneaking idea why I been coming by this past month or so? And why I was among the first of our little community to surface? Time is a very funny thing, and we’re all cross-stitched back and forth.

I was wondering if the date was right (sorry!) and decided it probably was. Fortunately I have the journal for documentation, and there it is! It’s only a page but I’m too tired to copy it here (it’s 10 p. m. now).

Thank you, Joseph. If you owed me a debt, I consider it paid – but I never considered it a debt in the first place.

No, I know you didn’t – and you did get your own back healed, but that wasn’t as simple as you think “now.” Like I said, time is funny. Get some rest now.

Tempted to type it up.

Get some rest. It’s too much.

10:45 Out of nowhere the thought, “now maybe it’ll leave me alone!” But I don’t exactly want the Civil War to leave me alone. Maybe I should rephrase it – “maybe now it’ll fit into my life less disruptively.” Maybe I’ll have to watch the whole Civil War series again!

Here is my journal entry from July 4, 1994:

Back into altered states for the first time in a while. Talked to Josiah on the battlefield – as previously John Cotton years ago – many months ago, anyway, my time. Told him they could end the war probably, in the next 2 days – but wouldn’t. Told him to remember Appomattox, Lee, Grant. Said I was as far in his future as 1730 was in his past. He’s sort of in an altered state – will remember it as such. (“will”??)

He had the sense of carrying a sofa!? But it was a block of wood he was clawing on, hacking at. Don’t know why. Visual impairment due to the blow on the back.

I worked on healing his back so as to heal mine. And was told the song running through my head, from Ken Burns’ film, was to keep my mind on the war.

Did it work? Too early to tell – but it feels like it.

Who can I call to discuss it? Put it on the internet.

Posted a long description of Cotton and Smallwood and back problems etc. Probably made a fool of myself publicly. But what the hell. It did happen as I describe it.

(Feb 4, ’06) I remembered, typing this up tonight, that in ’94 I was thinking that Joseph (or Josiah, as I sometimes thought his name was) had been injured on July 2, with the Minnesota regiment that took 82% casualties, can’t remember why I thought that. I had wondered vaguely why I thought to make the connection on July 4 rather than July 2. Joseph having been injured July 3 and my coming to him early July 4 would make sense, but I don’t know of any reason why the dates have to align.

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