Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Hold With Those Who Favor Fire

The package was so small I hadn't noticed it at first. Stuck between bills and the Saturday Evening Post, it had fallen unseen onto the carpet.

I knew the handwriting the minute I opened it.


Tad's neat cursive appeared only on the address and on a short note on the top of the stack of my letters to him.

I had to scrape around in the kitchen drawers for matches, but the paper kindled quickly in the dry July heat. As sparks whirled up the chimney the edges of Tad's note curled in glowing golden lines that quickly ate their way to the center of the paper, leaving fine, black ash.

"Rosie - I can understand but I can never forget. You are the love of my life and always will be.

I'm just a scientist, without elegant words for my feelings, so I'll turn to my favorite poet, Robert Frost:

"Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire."

Our times will end in a kind of fire. What the world will be like afterward I do not know. But I can only hope that you'll think fondly of our time together when you look back from whatever your future holds, which I dearly hope is great joy.

All my love,


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Letter to Tad, July 1945

Dear Tad:

I may regret this letter for the rest of my life, but I would rather live with sorrow than falsehood.

When Bob and I married we made a vow to be faithful to each other "til death do us part." We are now parted by death, and nothing stands between you and me. You are a kind, honest and thoughtful man, and knowing you has made me immensely happy.

For the last four years I have fought the war. I don't mean by working in the bomber factory, though I hope I've done some tiny part. I mean I've fought against the war and what it's done to my life. There's nowhere, from the train station to the grocery store, from my empty bed to my empty ring finger and the empty space on the shelf where Bob's picture used to sit, that hasn't been fouled by this conflict.

It seemed nothing was ever up to me, that circumstances beyond my control must dictate my every action.

Then came Betty's wedding.

I was thrilled for her of course. But as her bouquet flew toward me, I suddenly understood what I think I'd known all along. I did not catch the flowers.

Betty's husband died in the icy wastes of the Aleutians. Bob's bones lie in the soft warm mud of tropical island. I imagine some beautiful tree has grown and blossomed over his remains, a living bouquet that I will never see but fills my heart with joy and always will.

Bob was an architect. So I can't help thinking of things in terms of houses. I now know that my path lies in rebuilding my life on its original foundations, not in moving to a new home. I will win the war by defying it and staying true to everything that mattered to be before that horrendous Sunday morning so long ago.

I cannot love anyone else. I cannot live anywhere but in the little white bungalow under the cedar tree, the place Bob and I chose to start our lives and where I intend to finish mine. Then we will be together, in a place without war.

I wish you all the love and happiness you deserve and will undoubtedly find. I thank you for your help and support. Know that I will always think of you with the greatest affection and gratitude. I have no doubt that your life will be filled with the love and joy you so deserve. Mine perhaps will not, but it is the fate I choose.

Your friend,