My Dearest Harry,
Do not be angry with me for letting so much time lapse between my last letter and this one. Such is the nature of this death that it affords me time to prepare my final words. I am grateful that Fate has permitted me to compose this letter but I did not know how to put in words what you could discern from my eyes immediately. I wasted many hours beginning and stopping and I almost squandered this gift for the pen grows heavier with each passing day. Forgive this imperfect letter and my imperfect farewell.
I know you wish to be at my bedside but please know that it is a great comfort to me that you are at a distance from this sickness. It is selfish, but I do not wish you to see me as I am now. The consumption has left me like a pressed flower, an impression of myself with all vitality dried away. I much prefer that you recall me as I was in the bloom of spring.
It is funny, Harry, that, despite my poverty of time, I experience such overwhelming boredom. At first there were trips to the seaside to breath in the healing air, then travels to the garden but now I inhabit this bed alone and my longest journey is the leftward turn of my head to gaze outside my window. It is alright because I prefer to I spend my precious moments slipping beneath the folds of time and dreaming of you.
I can recall with perfect clarity the moment you entered my life. The memory is so clear I fear I must have invented it. You were dazzling as you rode into the courtyard, your cloak billowing behind you as if the fingers of the wind wished to pull you into an embrace. I never told you, but I stroked your horse with such intent not because I was so enthralled with it, but because being close to you made me so shaky I had to use your horse to steady myself. Do you remember telling me in jest how deeply your horse would miss me when I carried on my way? And I said, “Perhaps it would have been better that we should never have met, Mr. Horse, so that you would not miss me so greatly.” And you said, “Ah, but I think I have been missing you my whole life.” I stopped breathing then, Harry, and did not again until weeks later when you breathed me back to life with your lips.
When first this disease took hold, I wept furiously, railing against the unfairness that our future should be stolen from us. It was foolish of me to believe that we already owned that future. In truth, if the war has shown us anything, it is that not a one of us is guaranteed a tomorrow and so we must be content with the yesterdays we have received. I wish to thank you for making my yesterdays so lovely.
You must think me rambling. I am afraid that if I set down this pen, I will not have the strength to pick it up again.
The bulk of our courtship was conducted through such letters while you were abroad in that most terrible conflict. We only shared a small number of summer days in person and the rest of our love grew in letters. I propose to you that we live out our future in this one.
I will be a poet, Harry, and you shall be an architect. Very soon the doctors will invent a mechanical arm to replace the one you have lost and you will be able to once again play the piano as sweetly as you did before. We shall get married, of course, and then sail the circumference of the world. On this journey, we will see dolphins and volcanoes and all manner of things and become so satiated with adventure that when we return to England, we will be content to settle in the countryside and never leave it again. We shall have three children, two boys and a girl. They are wonderful and well-behaved, but not too well-behaved. They are smart and kind and have your beautiful eyes. There will be storms between us, because no great love can subsist on pure joy, for how else will we recognize the good moments if not made all the more glorious by the foul ones? We shall scream in our life, and cry and dance and kiss and laugh with all the vigor of youth. I will start a garden and you shall teach me French. When our first son is born, Harrison III, you'll plant an oak tree, hardly more than a twig. It shall grow as we grow, and soon, all too quickly, it will be tall and strong and we, having collected our wrinkles, shall sit in its shade and gently drift to sleep, our fingers entwined.
Such a lovely life we will have shared.
Harry, I do not fear the uncertainty that awaits me when I leave this life. I do fear disappearing. Speak of me, Harry, let me live on your lips in whispered prayers. See me in the moon and the new flowers of spring and the first snowfall of winter. Worship me, not as a lover, but as a goddess. Let me live through your remembrance, speak me into a goodness and beauty I never possessed in mortal life. And when I am no longer a woman you once knew, but a golden light that warms you gently, then I ask that you find a woman of flesh and blood and make her your wife and build your family. You were the love of my life, Harry. I hope I am not yours. The greatest betrayal of my memory would be for you to live your life shuttered away in your misery. My dying wish is for your happiness. Promise me, Harry, promise me that when I am gone, you will pursue your joy with uncompromising diligence.
Moving this pen across the page is takes a Herculean effort. I believe I am finally ready to say my final address.
If I were tasked by the angels to write of all the wonders in this world, I would not need a manuscript with the weight of the mountains or a sentence that wraps the heavens twice over. I would need simply a single, singular word: you. For within those three letters are contained everything, nothing, and all that lies between. As I approach my final hour, I live a thousand lives with each whispered repetition of you, you, you.
Harry, my love and my life, keeper of my soul,