The final word.
What would your final words be if you had to write one last letter to your beloved.
How would you start the letter?
What would you say?
how would you end it?
It all seems so final doesn’t it? Never writing another word. Never seeing them again. Never looking into their eyes again. Never holding them again. The agony of that final separation. Permanent separation.
Our soldier begins his letter by writing the words he never wanted to ever write, “Now I shall write just once more, and then never again. There I said it. For a long time I thought about how I should formulate so fateful a sentence so that it would say everything and still not hurt too much.”
The reality of his situation is no longer deniable. Hope has disappeared. The end is nigh. And so he resorts to the matter of fact. Never again.
But the pain doesn’t end there, for our soldier takes a moment to think back, to recall to remember the times they had together, the love they shared and the life they built. And in this moment the sense of loss is acute,
” Our whole life together is there for us to see. We have honored and loved each other, and waited for each other now for two years…and time will have to heal the wounds of my not coming back.”
But the poignancy and loss does not end there, for our soldier does not just look back at the love they shared but he looks forward too, and in his imagining he sees a world for his beloved without him, but with someone else. In his love and concern for his partner (who is “beautiful” and still only 28) and their two children (Gertrud and Claus) he exhorts her to find someone else to love and marry after just a few months of his death. This is his dying wish for them
“Children forget quickly, especially at that age. Take a good look at the man of your choice, take note of his eyes and the pressure of his handshake…”
How must it have felt to write those words? To imagine your beloved with someone else? To see in your mind your children with a different father. To know that you will never see any of them again.
Only occasionally does he let slip the heaviness and despair in his heart as he faces his inevitable death. And at the end he exhorts her to tell the children as they grow up that their father was never a coward. That he faced his death with honour and without fear.
This is a letter about letting go. And letting go of the people we love, of the future we hoped for, of the dreams for our shared lives, of the hope that we had of seeing each other again.
Letting go – like waiting – is probably one of the most profound, most pure, most selfless expressions of love. For in the act of waiting and in the act of letting go, there is nothing self-seeking. When everything seems lost and when there seems to be no hope, love waits. It waits and it waits and it waits. It waits patiently because of the deep longing to see the beloved just once more.
And in letting go, the beloved says to the beloved: go and live and find love and happiness without me.
So, in the midst of this painful, destructive, barbaric war we come across these examples of pure, unrefined, selfless love.
Moments of light in an abyss of darkness