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128. What does "Comfort" mean to you?  
1:47:00, September 21st, 2006
John Henry Holliday, DDS

That is a word I use. Something I surely desire. It means a great deal. Strange - now that I think about it, it is a criteria for value, often. It is not that I am weak. I can get by without it - leave everything hard and cold, all loss and pain. I can work despite it. I can use its lack, even, to strengthen my resolve not to leave things lay as they are. But, I do want it, despite my not often experiencing it. Perhaps too, when I do find comfort, my appreciation reaches the height of pure wonder. And I am surprised.

There are various kinds of comfort. Physical comfort I can barely hope for. I will not dwell on my ills tonight. But what does offer comfort, in that way? Whiskey, obviously. They begged me to take laudanum, but it dulls the mind, and my mind is important to me. Where would I be without my keenly honed hand and eye and mind? I would be in bed, and a poor untended squalid bed it would likely be, too. And I would not be comforted in any other way for what offers that, in the end, are my memories, which would be deadened and numb. Whiskey, then.

*John hesitates* There is that other thing. To touch and be touched. Sometimes it is most comforting of all to comfort another. Eyes looking into mine, understanding. My own heart expanding with the revelation of theirs. My palm on their cheek, my fingers over the soft hollow at their temple. Their hand cool against my fever, their fingers smoothing back my damp hair. Arms around me. The feeling of another's heartbeat, their chests moving with their breath. Sometimes when I am very ill I conjure it up with my mind, comfort myself with my imagination. And then... the further thing. oh yes. Again, my disease lessens that desire. but, oh, it is there. The ache and exchange of... life, and the quiet after. Comforting in so many ways.

Things from home comfort me. The songs my mama used to play. The remnants of the Confederacy. A soft Southern accent. Foods I remember - peaches, pecans, ice-cold lemonade, ice cream. It was always warm. A few plants I so rarely see - wisteria, magnolias. My clothes comfort me - the fact I am able to buy fine ones, made to fit me, hold me in a way. The rich silks, the starched linen and cut wool, warm coats and fancy trim. It comforts me to be clean and carefully shaved, neatly trimmed.

My dentistry comforts me, or perhaps I should say it did. *he sighs and quotes himself yet again, a little sadly* "How are your teeth?" Now it is cards, and yes, my guns. I am very very good at all these things, for I mean to be, and with diligence I succeeded. There is a great deal of comfort in being perfectly sure of yourself, in relaxing in actions so familiar you have made them part of you. There is nothing like fond competent ritual to calm one's hands and nerves, still one's eye.

Yes. My friends comfort me. My friends. Even those dead, even those lost. Even my friends who were my cousins in far-off Georgia. Ah, my friends. In the night, when I am alone, with none of those other things, when it is late and I keep myself awake - my lungs, my fever. When things hurt internally, and physically, the very most, it is their memory that comforts me. The purpose they gave me. The... love. That they valued me, prized me. But no, it is not just that. Their eyes, their faces, their hands, voices, words. The light of their welcome when I came into a room. Even the most simple things, though there were large ones too. I "Had a treasure. Beyond most mortal comprehension... even if it caused (me) pain." And they comfort me. And the thought that I... I, with all my faults and weakness, gave them something of value too. That I was able to help them, to make the world fuller and better for them, saved them their very lives, which may sound odd, but it was true. I... cherish them, and that and the simple fact that I... even I was given that chance - to experience that, to have been there, to know them and see them enough to be able to love them. It does comfort me. Yes, such treasure! It is that that comforts me in the darkest night when I am alone and in the most pain.

My cousin comforts me. She still always comforts me, gives me hope, gives me that desire to be good. It is her voice I hear, when I am unsure, when I want to give up, for I will admit that sometimes I just wish for... mercy. My mama gave me faith in God, but it is Mattie that... holds me there. And for her, at her word, I would do anything. And I listen for God for her, and yes, I am comforted. I hope of Heaven, and I hope to be worthy of... whatever gifts have been given me. My friends, as above, but everything, really. Ultimately:

I comfort myself with doing my best, striving for that always, despite everything. It lets me hold my head up, lets my eyes meet yours with all my pride.
*Strangely, he whispers* I wish I had had a brother.

Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Fandom: History.
Word Count: 918
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Nulli Virtute Secundus
affect: thoughtfulthoughtful
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