0 days, what's ahead

Oh, y'all.... such beautiful, benevolent mail.... thank you so much -- so much!

It's almost 3a.m. I'm just about to hit "send," and I want you to know first.

It's done. It's done.

I can do no more. I've reached the point of diminishing returns.... you know how it is. I know you know!

I'll click "send" and get some sleep. Then... tomorrow morning -- to Charleston.

Charleston. Charleston, South Carolina.

I have not yet begun to pack. :>

But who cares? It's Charleston. Charleston --

The city where Jim and I met in 1968. The air force base from which my dad flew into and out of Vietnam for two years. The low county from whence I learned about life and love and started high school... and fell in love with the sousaphone player I would marry in 2007 when we were both in our fifties... oh, how time moves on and captures us in its embrace.

We have rented a big ol' rambling house on the beach, Jim and I.

I can't wait to get there.

Jim's mother lives on John's Island, and his sister lives in North Charleston. I can't wait to reconnect with them after six months apart... I can't wait for my grown children to visit when they are able... I can't wait for the wind and the waves and the inevitable rain from tropical storm Danny... and all the memories, all the memories we will make!

In Charleston lives my former home, my former church (where I sang in the choir with my mother), my former high school (as an air force kid, I attended three high schools, but this was the one where I met Jim)...

... what a time.

We will visit Fort Sumter, because I have a child who loves forts and the Civil War. And... if I can figure out how it works (do you know?) we will visit Fort Wagner.

We have been wanting to visit Fort Wagner since 1989 when Glory came to theaters... Zach was only seven years old when the movie was released, and yet he connected with that movie in such a visceral way when it came to video. He watched it over and over when he was ten years old; he had a Civil War birthday party, he studied and pondered Civil War history, and today he is 27 and we will go to Fort Wagner, or as close as we can get to it.

We will relive the history of the 54th Massachusetts. We will watch the film first, and then we will get as close to that history as we can.

And this is only one thing we will do in our week at the beach.

Mostly, we will revel in one another. There will be Scrabble. There will be dominoes. And puzzles. We will do nothing much. You know how it is.

I am done with this revision. I want to thank my amazing (truly -- you'll see) copy editor, Susan Casel, who took on the task of helping me create a brand-new kind of book for young readers, who held my fingers to the fire and made me accountable for every fact and figure, who asked all the right questions and did all the right research and insisted that I rise up to meet her very high standards... I hope I have done that.

Thank you, Susan. Thank you, readers. Thank you, friends. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

See you in a week.

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