We're all afraid of something. For many of us, our first fear is that of darkness. If we're lucky, we out grow it. Some of us aren't lucky...
On St. Simon's Island in Georgia there's a small little church, Christ Church, Frederica, one of the oldest churches in the state. It was after the Revolutionary War, in 1808, that Christ Church was founded.
Christ Church is a Gothic style building with a tall belfry and narrow stained glass windows. It is set in tall, mossy grass under towering oak trees. The church grounds include a cemetery. The oldest marked grave at Christ Church cemetery is dated 1803. Among these, is the grave of Emma, and this is her story.
When Emma was a child she was terrified of darkness. No one knew just how badly until one night her father, who felt he indulged Emma's every whim, decided he'd put a stop to her childish folly. Emma was to sleep through the night without a candle to light her room. Having instructed everyone to stay out of Emma's room, it was her father who eventually gave in. Finding Emma in such a state of fright that he decided that never again would she spend a night in the darkness.
Like many parents, Emma's mother and father believed one day she'd outgrow her fear but as Emma grew older her fear grew in intensity. So much so that Emma began to become frantic about running out of her supply of candles. She began to hoard them.
Emma had many friends and even more suitors all of whom considered themselves her protector from whatever lurked in this darkness that paralyzed Emma with fear. It was at a party with her friends in Brunswick that Emma met the young man that she would one day marry.
Phillip and Emma were married at Christ Church on St. Simon's Island. Emma had divulged her secret fear of darkness to Phillip though he did not fully understand its grasp.
Once Emma was married and away from her childhood home, her fear of the dark persisted and her obsession over running out of candles was deepened. Emma began to make her own candles obsessing over their length and burn time. Emma remained productive in all areas of her life. She was involved in her church both as a missionary and Sunday School Teacher. Phillip encouraged Emma to break from her candle making but loved her so fiercely that he continued to supply her with the wax and wicks she needed to continue.
Sadly, it was Emma's fear of the darkness that ultimately killed her. Once during her candle making, Emma spilled the hot wax on her arm. While she cared for her wound diligently the wound did not heal. Emma developed blood poisoning and died within the week.
On her deathbed Emma expressed her fear of dying and the darkness it would bring. It was then that Phillip vowed that she would never be without candlelight. And every night of his life Phillip placed the promised candle at Emma's grave. When Phillip died, he was laid to rest next to his beloved.
In the days that followed Phillip's death, local residents noted that each evening without fail, there at Emma's grave, glowed a candle. Of course the residents each believed that a local was carrying out Phillip's promised task. Eventually it was discovered that none of the local residents had done so and no one knew where the candle came from. Many years passed and many more witnessed the glow of the lonely candle in the evening.
Today there's a brick wall that obscures the view of the cemetery from the road but if you were to take a walk under the tall, mossy oaks in the evening, my guess is, you'd see it, too. That lonely, promised candle.