Monday, December 22, 2008

Letters (Part Four: The Ghost of Christmas Present)




(Letters is my series exploring a
war-time relationship across the miles.
Here are Parts One , Two, and Three. )


Dear Elise,

Thank you for the kiss, my dear. I’d like to say it cured me.

Yes, I’ve been stuck in the infirmary for almost a week now. It’s frustrating to be so immobile, so useless. But don’t worry. It’s nothing awful. And don’t get too excited, either. It’s nothing awful. They won’t be sending me home for the flu.

They’re taking good care of me, although I am a nuisance when so many are in far worse shape. The nurses here are excellent. There’s even one who hails from Nelsonville—can you believe that? Fifteen miles away, in that distant universe which you have come to hate, and which I so dearly miss. I don’t know why that should be a comfort to me, to know someone who traveled the same roads as you and I, who swam in Dow Lake. But it is. Any slight connection shines a little light into the hole. Her name is Hannah. Her sweetheart was killed back in ’42. Midway, I think.

My dear, I’m sorry your Christmas season has been such a loss. Can you do me a favor? I have a record I want you to find. They’ve been playing it regularly on the radio over here. Judy Garland sang it in a film, I believe. It’s called, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Such a bittersweet number, but those last lines get to me. I want to share them with you.

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

I know it’s not enough, Elise. Hope is a flimsy boat on which to sail such choppy waters. And fate is too damn hard to corner. But we are muddling through, dear girl. Each day brings us closer to the reunion you so clearly see, and each day takes us farther away from that morning at the train station I keep trying to forget.

Hannah tells me that the daily mail is being collected to send out. I want you to receive this letter before Christmas, and so I will sign off. But do make an effort to be happy on the big day. Please, Elise. If not for your mother, then make that your Christmas present to me. The one all these miles, and all that black water, cannot cheat us out of.

It’s what I need right now. Your happiness.


Love,

Patrick

--

Part Five is here

14 comments:

Catvibe said...

This really is bittersweet, and thanks for Judy. I'm all teary now. Your letters are beautiful and poignant. It's making me think of one of my high school friends I've recently reunited with whose husband and son in law are in Iraq this Christmas. I'm lighting a candle for our troops this year, and for their families at home who are missing them much.

David Cranmer said...

Thank you for your gift of marvelous writing and Merry Christmas!

jason evans said...

Muddling through...yes, he really captures the essence there. Doing the best he (and she) can.

I wonder if Elise will cringe at the thought of Hannah being there caring for him when he cannot. Such a tangle of emotions all around.

I some way, I hope they do each have a merry Christmas.

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, writing this series has given me just the smallest glimpse into how torturous a separation that must be for all of those divided families. I haven't even really addressed the chronic anxiety and fear here, either. I'm glad you're lighting a candle.

Thank you for the kind words about this piece! Judy makes me teary, too.

David, you're quite welcome. :) I've enjoyed the writing and thoughts at your blog, too. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Jason, they are muddling. Sometimes, more successfully than other times. Christmas is hard for both of them, though.

It felt strange writing this piece, that he should have to comfort her, given his circumstances. I hope she can bring him some comfort, too. And yes, I think Elise will cringe. But fight against that, too.

Thank you! :)

Aine said...

Oh, please don't tell me he is painting a rosier picture of his situation than is true! I have images of him gasping for breath and weak from dehydration, but writing that it is "nothing awful".

I must admit, there are times that the pain of such separation makes me wish there were no connection at all (if it were me). Sigh... life seems so unfair.

Sarah Hina said...

Aine, I guess they endure that pain of separation because it's impossible to imagine life without that connection. It's too late to undo the knot. But yes, I understand what you're saying. It's too hard, sometimes.

As for your worry over his health, well, you'll just have to wait and see...(actually, you've given me a new angle on it--so thank you!!) :)

Aine said...

Oh no! What have I done?!
:)

Sarah Hina said...

Mwaa ha ha!

Wait and see...

:p

Chris Eldin said...

I have to go back and read the initial parts, but this is good!

I love this line in particular:
Hope is a flimsy boat on which to sail such choppy waters.

Charles Gramlich said...

I can really feel the lonliness in this letter. The missing of someone across the miles.

Ello said...

How sweet and so sad. It's a lovely series. And your writing is always so evocative. That's why I love coming here!

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy new year!

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, thanks for pointing out that line! I'm glad the piece worked for you. :)

Charles, then I did my job! :) Thank you. I felt it, too.

Ello, Merry Christmas, my friend!!

Thanks about the series. It's been an interesting relationship for me to explore. Maybe I need to do something more cheerful for the New Year, though. :)

Vesper said...

Hope is a flimsy boat on which to sail such choppy waters. And fate is too damn hard to corner.
Hmmm, I wonder…
Is Hanna – the one without a sweetheart - closer, more “real” than Elise?

Aniket Thakkar said...

Couldn't agree more with Vesper... "Hope is a flimsy boat on which to sail such choppy waters. And fate is too damn hard to corner." Such harsh yet immortal truth!

And don't give into the evil idea you got into your mind by Aine's comments! :) :)