January 8th, 1900

Dear, dearest Gilbert,

 

I write the date and feel I should be waxing poetic about my dreams for this shiny new century. There are currently four crumpled paper snowballs (whiter than the patches of snow rotting to mud outside my window) at my feet, wherein I attempted just that. My heart, alas, is all prose tonight; all stark, hopeless prose, in fact. I know it is cruel to inflict my sour mood on you through this first letter of Easter term, but the alternative is to leave you waiting longer, till I am feeling joy or hope or something other than the ache of missing you again. Who can say how long that will be? I blame this mood entirely on you, for making our holiday so magical, so maybe it’s only fair.

 

Happy memories from over the holidays are vile traitors; they perpetually lift me up into the paradise of light and love and family and you, you, you—only to cast me scornfully down to the grey reality of January at Blackmore. I shall outwit them at their dastardly game by cataloguing them here, pinning them down, where you can read them over and over. Maybe when this letter is done, I’ll write them more thoroughly in my own journal, so that I can revisit them, too. Isn’t it interesting how writing a thing both makes it more real and simultaneously strips it of some of its glamour? Perhaps it is a writer’s job to arrange the words so that they retain as much of the truth—the beauty—the breadth and width of the thing—as possible. What do you think? Maybe it’s different for medical journaling, though. You might be more interested in clinical details than glamour. Still, what is the whole truth of a thing?

 

Oh, no you don’t, you devious memories. I shall not be distracted from my valiant quest by philosophical questions, no matter how engrossing they may be!

 

I’ve already written about my memories up till Christmas Eve. I hope they gave you reason to smile on the long train ride to Toronto with Ben. I’m so glad you have his companionship! I hope our humble celebrations helped to distract him from the pain of being so far from his sweetheart. I don’t like to think about how hard that must be; this distance from you is difficult enough for me.

 

Anyway, here are the things I keep thinking about:

  • Christmas Eve at Green Gables, as you held Delly to the window to watch the snow falling. Her sweet little voice saying “Oooh!” and your sweet gentle voice answering her right back, “Yes, Delly, oooh; look at the snow!” I also enjoyed watching you tease Bash about Delly being a true islander, able to appreciate the beauty of winter. You might not have noticed, but Hazel watches the snow with almost as much awe as Delly; she’s just quieter about it.

  • Our moonlit walk later that evening. Please thank Ben again for being such a wonderfully sympathetic chaperone! He probably shouldn’t consider theatre as a viable profession (not that he was ever in danger of doing so) as his pretense at being fascinated with island tree bark was extremely transparent and infinitely appreciated. We’ve already laughed over that, but these are my memories; I see no reason not to reiterate. The night was so still and cold. Your lips were so soft and warm. Oh, dear.

  • Christmas night at your house. Elijah singing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” for Mary, and the whole family—all of us—joining in at the refrain. I feel certain that Mary heard us. There was not a dry eye in the room then, and I am sure you will understand why the ink here may be blurred a bit in spots.

  • As is the way of the world, this poignant moment was counterbalanced by the sheer joy of a baby tearing wrapping paper. Why did we worry so about the gift? I think she was delighted by the top, but she won’t be able to spin it on her own for a while yet. The paper, on the other hand, was an unmitigated success! Isn’t Delly’s laugh scrumptiously irresistible? Of course you think it is—I’m not sure you even try to resist. Actually, I don’t think I could love a man who would resist anything about Delly. It’s a good thing you don’t. Watching you and Delly is one of my very favourite things in the world! Someday...well, plenty of time for that later.

  • Our hilariously disastrous attempts to communicate via sign language. I’m just glad nobody got hurt. Honestly, is there a Toronto dialect? Our clever scheme to be stealthy drew more attention to ourselves than yelling across the room might have. And why did it never occur to me that Josie and Diana would know exactly what I was signing? Next time, after a good deal more practice, let's come up with a secret code within the signing! 

  • The sleigh ride, the ice skating, and the Barrys’ party afterward. Thank you again for sharing the role of driver with me! It was thrilling to pass Moody and Ruby so easily. I still don’t know how Ben and Diana managed to beat us to the lake, but I look forward to plotting our victory next year. Why do you think it feels so different to be attending a formal event together than it does to participate in all the casual gatherings? It was just our friends at the party, but being there with you as an official couple was a special kind of thrilling! Oh - I can’t let my mind dwell on that; I have already heard the girls anticipating the midwinter dance here. While I’ve usually managed to find some fun at the events I’ve attended alone, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to again, now that I know what it is to enjoy them with you. 

  • Perhaps my favourite memory; our quiet afternoon at Green Gables baking with Marilla (I want to say “bless her for being so patient with our silliness!”, but I suspect, from the persistent twinkle in her eye I couldn’t help but notice, that she was enjoying our antics immensely herself) and reading by the fire in the parlour (this time, bless Marilla for finding so much work to do in the kitchen and allowing us to spend those precious hours alone. Also, bless Ben for insisting on helping Bash around the farm for the day). I anticipate a future with you wherein we take the world by storm, embark on numerous adventures, and always return to afternoons of baking scones and reading by the fire. Please adjust your agenda accordingly.

  • How proud you were to report that Bash had praised the scones enthusiastically when he assumed that I was the primary baker. I wish I could have seen his expression when you revealed that they were your creation. I must admit I was both proud and relieved at the results. It’s good to know that with proper instruction (and despite many delightful distractions; or are they a necessary part of the instruction? Let’s decide that they are.) you are capable of making something other than stew or porridge! What would you like to learn to cook over the summer? Please begin composing your list.

Once, not that many years ago, I greatly preferred imagining to remembering. The worst memories seemed to be the most tenacious. I don’t think those will ever disappear completely, but I have been collecting such an array of magical, thrilling, contented, happy memories lately that the worst are retreating into the shadowlands of my mind. I honestly can’t tell which my preference is now. On the one hand, there are many, many beautiful memories to reflect upon. On the other, my imagination doesn’t even have to fly away to the realms of the fey anymore; there is plenty of exhilarating scope in my own very real life. 

 

I think I will write these memories out more thoroughly now, and add those that didn’t involve you (I confess there are a few, though I have discovered that no matter who I am with or what I am doing, there’s always some quiet melody of your love playing in the back of my mind, so in some ways everything involves you). 

 

I am happy to report that while the ache of missing you has not faded, it appears that the memories and I have come to some sort of understanding, and I am feeling a sliver of hope again. There will be a summer, and a future beyond that. In the meantime, I’ll pour myself back into schoolwork and activism and sharing my thoughts and feelings with you through these letters again. Maybe you are writing to me right now; there’s reason to hope in that thought alone. On that happier note then, good night.

 

Yours forevermore,

 

Anne

P.S. Gilbert! Do you know what has just occurred to me? There will never be a second of the whole twentieth century that we didn’t know that I love you and you love me! Not a single second! This is promising to be the best century of my life!

© 2020 by ANNE NATION