Alexander Hamilton was sitting at his desk. It was late in the night, and he knew he really should be asleep. Eliza had said so herself, and she was usually always right about such things. But he couldn’t bring himself to pull away from his work, so he kept writing, long into the night as the candle burned low. His quill scratched away on paper, line after line flowing onto the page. And then a knock on the door echoed through the still, silent house. Briefly carding a hand through his hair, Alexander stood up and plodded into the entry hall, bleary eyed.
He opened the door to reveal a messenger standing outside, bearing with him two letters. “Mr. Hamilton, sir? I have two messages that I have been instructed to relay to you.” He held out the envelopes. “Ah. Thank you, my good man. Have a good night.” The other man tipped his hat in response, and strode off into the night, leaving Alexander alone on the threshold. He curiously examined the letters, noting that one was from President Washington and the other from his wife, Martha. Heading back towards his study, he flopped down on his chair and held the letter from Martha Washington close to the candle so that he might read it. Shaking open the paper, his eyes scanned over the first few lines. Dear Mr. Hamilton, It is with much sorrow that I write to you now. I fear that I must tell you that George Washington has passed away…. After that he registered nothing of the letter. Washington, dead? His commander, his President, the first person who’d been willing to give him a chance. He was gone.
Suddenly it seemed like just too much to take. Alexander dropped his head onto his hands, furiously blinking away the tide of emotion threatening to overtake him. He rubbed at his eyes with the heel of his hand, and glanced over at the unopened letter from Washington himself. Hands shaking, he reached out for the letter, slowly, jerkily slitting it open and removing the paper from within. Holding it carefully in both hands, he began to read.
My Alexander, I hope that you are well, son. It’s been far too long since I saw you last. I do hope that everything is fine up there in New York, and that you’re not overworking yourself or fighting with Mr. Jefferson at all hours of the day and night. I fear that I myself may not be in the best of health at the moment, however, so I am in no position to criticize you for your own behaviors. I am not worried, I am sure that the illness will pass in due time. Martha and I both miss you and your dear wife and children, and I would very much like to have you come down to Virginia soon.
Son, you had better be getting enough sleep and food. If I find out any information to the contrary, we will have a nice long talk about your limitations as a human being. Much like we did during the war, and all those times I found you working late in your office. I seem to recall that your friends Laurens, Mulligan, and Lafayette were also most displeased by your lack of rest.
At that, Alexander let out a weak chuckle. It was true, the General had not been the only one to be displeased with him over the long hours that he always pulled.
I look forward to seeing you soon, son. Take care of yourself now.
The letter ended there, and it slid out of Alex’s grip and drifted slowly to the desktop. Alexander was suddenly, inexplicably angry at Washington. Angry at him for leaving, for dying, for calling him son, even after all those times he had expressed his desire to be called anything but that. Anything at all. Yet, the former President still attached that endearment to his name, one last time. He furiously snatched up the letter again and crumpled it into a ball. “Don’t… .call ..me.. .son.” He growled, emphasizing each word by scrunching the paper tighter with his hand. “I’m not your son, DON’T CALL ME SON!” He ended the sentence on a shout, before he collapsed back down onto his chair. Sobs wracked his frame as he whispered quietly, “Please, call me son, just one more time.”
It was raining. The skies were grey and melancholy, as if even nature was mourning the great man. Alex stood before the marble grave, clad in black, hat in hand. No one else was around, they seemed to have sensed that some alone time was needed. The funeral had been….lacking something. It still felt wrong to think of Washington as truly gone, but he was. And that hurt in a totally new way that Alexander had never experienced before. So now he stood before the cold, silent stone, back straight and eyes down, as if he was waiting for Washington to take him by the shoulder and reprimand him for whatever it was he’d done now. He would have given anything in the world for that to happen. But there was no sound from the stone, and the only movement came from the rain falling from the sky. And Alex cleared his throat twice before he was able to speak. “Your Excellency, I am.. I think for once in my life I don’t know what to say. You comment on how that’s a first, I think. Oh, why did you have to die? I just don’t know what to do. Why did you have to leave?” He crouched in front of the President’s grave, leaning his head against the cold stone. “I wish you were here, I miss you so much. Please, I would do anything if you could just call me son one more time. Just one more time.” Of course there was no response, and he closed his eyes, feeling tears slip down his cheeks. And he didn’t try to wipe them away, just sat and let them fall as he mourned the man who had, in the end, been so much more than just a General and a President. Alexander sat in the rain and he mourned his father.