Old Love Letter

28 avril 2011

January 12th, 1917
My beloved,

I walked along the shores this morning with your letter in my hand, as a new day’s light shyly spread over the sleeping sea.

A new day without you yet again.

I didn’t want to be reminded of your absence, of the past and the awaiting solitary hours : it doesn't matter anymore. Your "dead status" was officially cancelled yesterday, with the arrival of both your letter and an announcement from the Army.
I watched the boats floating still, I looked for the non existent wind. My bare feet on the fresh grass, my eyes on the water, grey as the sky and so quiet, like a dormant dream. I held my happiness silently against my heart… There are so many women who are waiting to know, and so many more who cry, confronted with the harsh certainty that their son, their brother, their husband won't come back. 
I was so afraid that perhaps I was wrong in thinking that you would. 
I waited. Here in France, in your country. They said so much blood was shed that the soil turned red, somewhere called Verdun, and that you had very probably died there too. I looked at the map to see where it was. That you could be gone was simply impossible… it felt untrue but none of the locals here would believe a stranger’s heart. They almost sent me home, and they would have, had travelling not been so difficult!
With you gone, there was nothing for me left in the village they thought, for I was nothing but the promise of a wife, of a life with you, for you. I am twice a foreigner here, once for not being born within half a day’s walking distance, and twice for not being French. And yet I am a cousin too, the Irish blood in my vein speaks to their heart and memories.
Your words were faintly written but nonetheless strong and filled with such love and hopes, and pain and sadness too. I fear this war has aged you beyond what I could expect… Yet I trust that you will still be the man that left – that the soulmate I love so dearly will be the same underneath the scars. I cried for the agony you had to endure, for the pain that must be yours still and the mutilation this ongoing war inflicted on your body. But the tears on my face were also of relief: you are alive, you will soon be close to me again.

Yes, today I did not want to be reminded of your absence, even though I’ll count the days. I simply wanted to follow our walks by the sea and bathe in the thought that soon you will be home. You may not be whole again, I cannot imagine what it is to be without a limb, but we will walk slowly my love, you and I, together.



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