Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.com, lives and writes in New Mexico, USA, the Land of Enchantment. Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and poetry awards. In 2018 FutureCycle Press will publish her poetry collection Xanthippe and Her Friends. She orchestrates a women's writing blog at https://writinginawomansvoice.blogspot.com/.
I should have started sooner. There's so little time now. I want to hold on to everything. I don't want things to change. Again. But they will. Maybe there will be an extra day if a train goes off schedule. Not likely. Before I know it, Monika will be here to pick me up. Then I'll once again be respectable widow, mother of three, old lady, good citizen.
I want to hold on to the freedom of this last year.
I don't really want to go back to tedious respectability. But I will.
Okay, no time to waste. Only just enough time to look up at the sliver moon through the window. Soon it will fade into day.
The moon was full when I arrived. Good thing, because I didn't even have a flash light. Matches in a tin canister, yes, but they don't do much good outside. I had a stump of a candle, too. But I'm no pilgrim marching along with a lit candle in hand, the way we used to march as children in the first week of advent with our cardboard lanterns. I do like the idea, though: Pilgrim Mina.
I can't remember if it was windy the night I got here. Probably not, otherwise I would remember the pleasure of finding shelter.
I had said goodbye to Amelia. I had to. She didn't want us to split up. True, it would have been safer to keep on traveling together. She even invited me to come live with her at her cousin's home in a place called Waldsee. She offered to share her room with me until I found my own family again. Unfortunately she was driving me crazy.
I said I'd stay in touch, but I didn't. By then she probably was offended anyway. No matter what polite justifications I thought up, I'm sure she could sense I was simply fed up with her company.
In my defense, I stayed with her until she had only a day's journey left to get to her cousin's. It wasn't as though I abandoned her in the wild somewhere. And there was that other group she joined in the end. Yes, it would have been safer, and, yes, I lied, telling her and everyone else that I had a lead on finding some of my family up north. I didn't. In fact what lead I had was that Marianne and the kids were heading to Bavaria when they left my house. I went in the opposite direction, heading north.
I'd already lost everything, my house, my workshop. My family was gone to destinations as yet unknown. The one thing I wanted to hold on to was my little bit of autonomy—not an easy prospect in our world, war or no war.
I suppose you could say I went crazy. The hunger. A sixty-one year old woman wandering on country roads with her small bundle, sleeping on haystacks, hiding in trees. Truth? I was gleefully proud to still be able to climb up a tree. Most women my age were too large or lately too weak to climb anything.
It was just my knapsack and me. Yes, you could say I was crazy. I didn't feel crazy, though. Despite the hunger and the grime, I felt delicious. The air was mine. I had room to expand in it. I didn't have to constrict myself around it. For the first time in my life, I was truly free.
Hunger is a mean thing, though. It gnaws at you. It was too early for ripe grain. I tried. There were kernels already. They tasted liquid and green. At times I ate them anyway. Once I passed through a town where everybody stood in line for a tablespoon of sugar. I didn't want sugar. I wanted bread. But the English doled out sugar, so I took sugar. And in the fields the unripe grain. I remember I got some milk a few times, too. Milk always made me happy. Skim milk tasting of miracles.
Once I ate fresh bread until the hiccups came. I didn't care. The bread in my mouth felt wonderful.
I found a man on the road. At first I thought he was sleeping, but he was dead. I went through his knapsack and found several tins of Kommißbrot and a roll of dried pea soup. I took them. I left him there. I had to trust that someone else would find and bury him. It wasn't something I could do all by myself. I was afraid he would haunt me for leaving him there, but the only time I ever think of him, I feel gratitude, as though he were telling me: You did well.
I didn't know where to go, so I just went.
I hoped the children were okay, and my three little grandchildren, but I didn't give them a lot of thought. I had no desire to go find them. Strange, isn't it? I deliberately went in the other direction.
It was beautiful for the first days alone on the road. Nobody bothered me. Then came a few days of rain. It wasn't too bad. It was still summer. I sat under trees to wait out the rain. I wasn't afraid of lightning. I figured if the Lord had saved me this far, he wouldn't let me die from a bolt of lightning unless He had a good reason.
And then I saw Gerhard's farm. I was wet. I watched the farm house for a while. No sign of life. So I went to the barn.
I didn't care for anything anymore. By then my favorite time of day was whenever I was exhausted enough to fall asleep.
I was delirious.
He brought me beef broth.
I apparently babbled in my delirium and called out for Erich.
"Gerhard," he told me he kept saying, assuming I had misunderstood him the first time. "My name is Gerhard."
"But where is Erich?" I asked.
"Who is Erich?"
"My husband of course." How could he be so dense?
Potatoes. He had potatoes in the cellar, with eyes sprouting, but they were okay. We could eat them, boiled, fried, turned into potato dumplings, potato pancakes. Even potato cake.
The first thing he got was chickens.
Then a cow.
I had nothing to give him.
When Tillmann's wife left my house, she forgot to take the six tins of Kommißbrot Tillman had brought as a gift for her the winter before. They were still good. They were supposed to last forever.
I told him my name. Wilhelmina Weber.
"Are you a weaver?" Gerhard asked.
"No, but close. I'm a dressmaker. Perhaps I should say I was a dressmaker. There's not going to be a lot of demand for new dresses in the near future."
"You never know," he said.
He came down from the attic with curtain materials. "There," he said. "Sew something." I appreciated his gentle generosity. He knew I didn't want to be just a charity case.
While I was on the road, I never slept in trees. I slept in haystacks at times, though, like a cat. With the trees, though I could climb them, I was afraid I would fall out, never mind all the fairy tales I had read with grandmother witches sitting up in trees. Nobody ever mentioned any of them actually sleeping in those trees. As for me, I was sure I would fall out.
Gerhard had a rickety motorcycle. One day he came with a huge jar of pickled herring.
He always told me I ate too little. Half a slice of bread with butter and a leaf of lettuce. Bread and butter. Bread with sugar. With goose drippings or pork drippings. One of my favorites was milk rice when we had milk.
I am paralyzed. I am frantic. I wanted to write down everything all at once. All that freedom this past year. I want to keep every morsel of it alive.
When Marianne left with the children, I should have gone too, but I didn't want to. I didn't have a lot of use for Marianne. I thought she was a useless little thing. I don't know what possessed Tillmann to bring her to me in the middle of a war. I guess for her and the children's safety. I guess he knew I wouldn't abandon her or kick her out. She should have gone to stay with her own parents, but I didn't have a way of saying so without sounding mean. She didn't have a trade. Nothing. Her cooking was marginal, too. I'm just saying—what good was she then? She once wanted to be a teacher. Would probably have done okay with that, come to think of it, but her father had said no. I am grateful my father let me learn his trade. I am grateful I had at least something useful to offer the world.
But here was little Marianne. The year she lived with me she played the piano a lot. When I had customers, too. Though there weren't a lot of those left. In times of war, in a town as small as ours, a glorified village, who had the ambition to order a new wardrobe? I did a lot of mending. Especially coats and uniforms. Mending didn't mean I had to know much about men's tailoring. I just had to fix what was already there. Marianne could have done that too, but she claimed she didn't have the skills. To prove it, she'd regularly stick her needle in to her finger and get blood on something. Creative ineptitude.
She'd tell me people said it gave my dressmaker shop class to have someone play the piano in the background. I'm sure that's what people would say to her to her face. Behind our backs, I expect they were wondering what windfall we had just had to be able to afford a piano. She'd brought it from her parents' home up in East Prussia, of course. At some expense, too, because last I checked, pianos don't walk.
Anyhow, when she left I still thought I could hold on to everything I owned. After all, I was no longer young. Nobody was going to be enticed to rape me, I thought. I was old and scrawny. And murder? They'd murder me in Bavaria or Hannover as likely as they'd murder me back home. where I at least had my house.
Then of course no sooner had they left—I think it was less than a month, things went downhill. She had traveled off in the cattle car with her three little ones. The youngest was only born at the end of December. I thought at a month and a half, or just short of two months, the little one was too weak to travel. But Marianne wouldn't leave her behind with me. I don't blame her. And of course war and disaster don't happen at our convenience. She was right to get out when she could. Less than a month later, we lost our town to Polish troops, then regained it for three days, and then it was taken again. For good this time.
At first it looked like we could stay. I didn't really care under what government I lived, so long as I could just go about my way. But then it became uncomfortable. There were Russians in the mix, too, now, and we heard terrible things. In May, when Germany surrendered, there were rumors of Russians raping and pillaging wherever they went. I still thought I was too old and scrawny to tempt anyone to rape me. Then fear kept growing louder anyhow.
Suddenly I no longer officially owned my house. I had squeezed myself into a little room in the attic. I was afraid to go down to the kitchen. I couldn't speak more than a few words of Polish. That's where Marianne would have been of some use because she grew up on a farm with Polish workers, and she knew to make herself understood. But she was long gone by now. Hale and safe with her three babies, I hoped.
The discomfort kept growing. The dream of staying in my own place simply died.
How difficult could it be, I thought, to get to Bavaria and find Marianne? Monika was further west in Baden-Württemberg and Gabi was somewhere else, I had no idea where. There were no trains in the middle of 1945 anymore—not for civilians anyhow. But one could still walk. I was strong. I was convinced I was still capable of wandering.
Tillmann had once gone wandering with a friend, just before the war broke out when there was widespread unemployment and neither Tillmann nor his friend could find work. Or rather, work, yes, but no pay. For half a year's work, Tillmann once finally got a kitchen cabinet. Not something we needed. Anyway, the wandering was Goethe-inspired. Working his way as a journeyman through the country while seeing something of the world. I decided if my son could do it, then I could do that too. True, I was not a youngster. True, I was a woman. "Only" a woman, as I had heard far too often in my long life.
I packed a bundle.
Of my three children, I miss my beautiful Gabi most of all, and she's probably the one who could care about me the least. Monika—I don't know. Tillmann is now with Marianne and the kids.
My current situation is familiar. I'd prefer staying here and keep my distance. I don't want what is happening. First Monika's letter. She had found me. I felt guilty. She found out that I was still alive, and I hadn't been desperately looking for them. Then the telegram from Monika that she's arriving next Friday. I knew it was coming of course. I wish it were Gabi instead of dour Monika. But Monika is the dutiful one.
It's as though my life doesn't belong to me. And it doesn't, does it?
The Leitners now always invite me to go to church with them and share their Sunday dinner afterwards. I don't want to do either. I supposed if I were pious, it would be easier. But I'm not. If God had wanted me to believe in Him, He would have given me the requisite faith.
The real killer here is, the Leitners don't really want me at their family dinner. They feel they have to invite me, poor lonely old widow that I am. Then I feel that I cannot in all conscience say no to their unwanted graciousness. They'd rather relax among themselves. And I'd rather be in my own room with a piece of bread. But I don't have a good excuse. I have noticed this all of my life. People allow the following excuses: work commitments and prior commitments to other people. That's it. Personal preference for solitude doesn't count. Other than the aforementioned acceptable excuses, they feel free to involve you in their activities because you have, after all, nothing else to do.
I loved it when the kids were small. They were my very acceptable excuse to get out of any and all extraneous commitments. Kids trump everything, even God. Kids and illness. But then they are there with their ten thousand needs.
Sometimes I wish I had Monika's faith in God. She's been steadfast, even when Hitler and his men made it unfashionable to be a churchgoing Christian. She clung to her church and her good works. She's tried to make me a believer as well. It isn't happening. I am curious about her belief. Is it genuine? Or is it something she has latched onto, like Tillmann once latched onto undying loyalty to the Fatherland?
I wish I had a badge to wear like they do—a badge of loyalty or devotion to something.
I'm worried about Tillmann—now that the Fatherland is in ruins and surrendered, where will he put his allegiance? What will give him meaning? Maybe Monika will persuade him into the ranks of followers of her Lord Jesus. I think he needs someone, something to follow. I'm glad I had him learn his carpentry trade. People will always need furniture. I know he wanted to be a teacher. And so we both missed out. I, too, would have loved to have been a teacher. And then his wife, his Marianne. Odd, how we all wanted to be teachers and none of us are. I'm a middling dressmaker, currently making curtains for Gerhard. Tillman is an unemployed soldier/carpenter, and Marianne is a housewife without a house. Monika writes they live with a farmer in a small village in Bavaria.
Gabi, she might go on to be the successful one in our family. She's the one who actually studied to become a teacher—the third child, the lucky one in any self-respecting fairy tale. I wonder if she's still being courted by all these men. She's the independent one. I wonder what I did right to make her who she is. I wonder what we can do to keep her that way. I so wish it was she and not Monika coming to get me.
I'll probably not find out much about her because she and Monika haven't exactly seen eye to eye over the years. I wonder how much it has cost Gabi spiritually to resist all efforts to avoid the allure of the herd.
I fear I'll end up with two spinster daughters. Monika is too pious and docile to attract anyone, and Gabi is too independent and feisty. I want to protect Gabi. It's not that she's not attractive, but she's already said no so many times. Among her suitors were one count and one professor of history. I ought to want to protect Monika, really. She's the one who has to make it through this life on a crutch of piety. But I can't stand her piousness. Gabi is more like a colorful bird or some huge flamboyant flower.
But never mind my brave Gabi. I need to prepare myself and be brave for my own rather less promising future. Everybody assumes that Monika is not only coming to visit me, but will also take me to live with her. What can I possibly say to her?
I've been hiding out here, and I have been found, and I will have to get ready for my next prison term in polite and responsible society.
Should I feel guilty that I have used the cruel post-war times to eke out a little slice of autonomy for myself?
I don't understand our society. Or why we have to strangle each other to make each other fit for polite society. I want to be wild. I will be tame.
I've wanted to be in loving all of my life, and I've avoided it like the plague after Erich. In case I would sully Erich's memory. Gerhard would have been a good one to love.
I had just gone through four days of rain, then dry, then rain again. I was exhausted. I'd seen farms, but no towns, and every time I thought I'd get to some farm house and ask for some milk, and offer to work for food and shelter, I'd decide to move on instead at the last minute.
The one time I had stopped, on the second day of rain, I was dripping wet. The farm woman opened the door, looking nice and remarkably fat for these times, and I could smell some kind of meat cooking. I asked for milk and a piece of bread or a potato if she could spare it. And could I help around the farm for a place to sleep in the stables for the night?
"Help?" she sized me up as though I had just asked the most ridiculous question. I guess I looked wet and scrawny and not exactly young.
"I'll give you a glass of milk and a hunk of break," she said. "But you'll have to drink the milk outside. Leave the glass over there." She pointed to a small walled area that included a wooden A-frame doghouse. "And then I don't want to see you again."
"I have a cup," I said, reaching for my knapsack.
"You'll take my glass," she insisted.
"Thank you," I said when she handed me the milk and the bread. I went to sit on the wall surrounding the doghouse. I looked at the dog's dish that had boiled grain in it and a bone with some cooked meat still on it. How envious I was. It was a handsome German shepherd with a healthy-looking coat of hair. I envied him his shelter, his coat, his food. It's probably my imagination, but I thought he pushed over his meaty bone in my direction.
"No thanks," I whispered. "I'm not quite there yet." Meaning eating meat of a dog's bone. It probably had some lovely marrow in it, too.
I looked into the dog's eyes and they looked kind and full of sorrow. I guess most dogs' eyes do. It's either that or begging. This one didn’t even seem to consider hinting about my piece of bread.
Maybe I took too long looking into the dog's eyes. "You have to move on now," I heard the woman's voice behind me. I can't blame her. Everything was in turmoil. Everyone was suspicious.
For the next two days I spoke to no one. I ate some unripe peaches from a tree and some unripe grain and I drank water from a brook. I looked in birds' nests, but they were all empty. I'd have to catch something.
I still had one tin of Kommißbrot left. I didn't want to open it. I wanted to save it as a last resort because once I ate it, then what? Hunger alone isn't so bad. It's when it's flavored with fear that it becomes terrible. Will I ever eat enough again in my life?
You have a lot of time to think and fear when you wander through a beautiful landscape that is marred by defeat, suspicion, and destruction. I considered stealing a chicken somewhere, like a fox, but I hadn't seen a chicken for days. Probably they were all in someone's soup or else carefully locked away to lay eggs. I'd never understood how chickens could lay egg after egg with no noticeable periods of rest. Sounds unnatural to me. I mean blackbirds and robins have a season or two for laying eggs. The end.
Then again, I'll never understand how human beings can have sex without a season—over and over and over again. Okay, I don't want to dwell on that just now.
But of course that's what's on my mind. I thought for a while it would be better next time to try my luck with a male farmer—who would possibly be more friendly. Hard times and all, most men were still raised to be more or less chivalrous. But what if they weren't? There was always the possibility I'd have to pay with my body, and then they might just laugh at me and I'd have paid in vain, be told to move on anyway.
So far I'd avoided rape and prostitution.
I remember Amelia saying she'd not be unreasonably proud. "It's just sex and I want to live." It makes me nauseous just to think about selling my body.
And yet, what an easy inbuilt way to get something one needs. Food. Shelter. Protection.
I knew it was possible. Even for an old woman like myself. Someone told me when men get in the mood, the woman in front of them, any woman, becomes beautiful on the spot. Never having been a man, I wouldn't know. It would be easy for me. I can no longer get pregnant. And I may be scrawny, but I'm not ugly.
"But I don't want that," I thought in those days. "Not yet. I'm not that desperate yet. Maybe one day, if there is no other way. The same day I'd eat meat from a dog's bone."
I'd heard of people eating dogs and rats. And horse meat, of course. I think I've had that—though it was advertised as beef when I had it. It tasted sweeter than usual. In any event, when you're desperate, you don't ask too many questions.
A rabbit. Maybe one day I'd eat a rabbit if I could catch one and could make a fire and roast it. But how would I skin it? My pocket knife did not look adequate.
I came to a farm that looked abandoned. The fields weren't tended or orderly. Maybe if I was lucky I'd find a disorderly vegetable or two. A carrot. A cabbage. A radish, a potato.
There was a barn and I opened the door. It smelled of old straw. Not dirty, but not fresh. Like dry leaves on a forest trail in fall. To me the smell was promising. It meant no animals were about—not farm animals, anyway. Incidental critters were sure to be there. Mice. Spiders.
It was dry. It was clean. And I was tired. A mild warmth radiated out from the straw, like the warmth from a dung heap, but minus the dung. And I was so tired.
I'd taken two unripe apples from a tree outside. It was still a struggle to get down unripe fruit. My stomach rebelled against the sourness, but my hunger was huge. I decided to open my last tin of Kommißbrot. But first I would take a nap. No matter that it was the middle of the day. So I curled up in the straw and slept. I must have slept several hours. The sun was still up outside when I woke up. After all, it was summer. But shadows started falling in, and since I was inside, it was getting dark around me.
I had watched the farm house for half an hour or so to see if there was any activity before I went in the barn. I didn't want a run in with anyone. It had appeared totally quiet. No people, no animals. Not even bird activity. So why hadn't I gone into the farmhouse itself? I felt as a person passing through, a refugee, a vagrant, really, I didn't deserve better than a barn. Which I didn't technically deserve either, of course, but it felt like a lesser theft to sleep on straw in someone's abandoned wooden barn than it would have in someone's abandoned stone house. Maybe if it had been in ruins. If I had to "steal" something that wasn't mine and that I would not be able to repay, then it seemed best to take the least valuable thing possible.
I felt the now familiar ache when I woke up, my bones curled up, no great softness underneath, though the straw was as soft as anything I had slept on in days.
I had gotten used to the smell of old straw. There were hay boxes too along one side of the barn wall, though there were no stall divisions. The boxes themselves were empty, except for a few straggling lengths of dry grass. I looked at some old seemingly intact bales of hay in one corner. I fantasized. Wouldn't it be great to be a horse? Then all I would have to do was eat the hay. Strange that those huge animals were able to digest those puny dried bits of grass and be well-nourished. Why couldn't I? Well, maybe that would be next. For now I would eat my last tin of bread, open it at least and take one or two slices. There would be six slices in all. One would be enough for today, I decided.
One day I will give these reflections to Gabi. I think she, of all my children, would understand best. Last I knew she was working for a bookseller in Heilbronn. But with the war I doubt books are in demand. I do not know.
A gift from heaven! I got up this morning and Frau Leitner says they're not going to church today. Her littlest one fell ill and they have to go to town and will eat their Sunday dinner there. I am so happy. It is indescribable. I will have an extra Sunday to myself, my last Sunday of liberty.
I don't know how I can be so small-minded about this, so protective of my solitude, but I am.
They offered to drop me at church on the way to town, and I said I would walk instead.
What is so strange is that I really like them, but sitting through a meal with them is still a burden. Having to behave and to listen to polite small talk. I started walking in the direction of the church, then decided to go for a long walk instead, looking at the trees, making the forest my church. I am so lucky, I am sheltered, fed. Last year this time everything was chaotic, in flux, no knowing what the future would hold, or even if I would live. And here I am alive. I should be so thankful. I am thankful. But I am also filled with dread. I can feel it in my stomach like knots. I will have to become respectable again, responsible, accountable, and I don't know how without losing myself. Again. To the dictates of the world.
Why was I not made like other women, happy to be in my place in the world into which I was born? They all seem so content. Are they? Or are they like me, but they cannot say so?
I loved my father. He decided as his only child I was entitled to become his heir, his successor, and so I was entitled to help him and to learn his trade. I know my mother wasn't keen on the idea, but when I was fourteen, I was allowed to become his apprentice. It was delicious. I gladly gave up my school stuff, though I loved to read. I would climb up into the apple tree and sit there and read for hours. When I started my apprenticeship, mother declared that I would still have to do all of my household chores and learn to be a useful housewife as well. That, in her opinion, was my real destiny and trade, and if I had ambitions to do something else as well, well that would have to be done on the side. She needed my help around the house, now what I was old enough and clever enough to do something. So, in addition to being my father's apprentice, I would clean, cook, and otherwise do whatever was necessary. Mother was stern, but frail. Now that I was old enough to be in charge of the household, she started to relax a bit. It worked well for her. In the end she outlived my vigorous father. At the time, father indulged her. "Well," he'd say to me, "you'll simply have to do both, your work and your work." He'd smile at me and wink. "Your sewing is better than you cooking," he said. "But we'll survive on your food."
Of course being his apprentice, I didn't have to pay for my apprenticeship. So that was a selling point with my mother. Who had, incidentally, done a lot of ancillary work in the dressmaker shop, just not the trade itself.
Anyway, my school days were over, my sitting up in trees and reading was over. With my new responsibilities, there just wasn't time. I was now apprentice dressmaker and apprentice housewife, and I gladly gave up my reading in the apple tree except on Sundays for a little while—after church and again after the Sunday dinner was made, consumed, and cleaned up. I learned poems by heart so I could repeat them to myself throughout the week when I was busy doing other things.
I was happy. I felt useful. And hopeful. I was going to have a beautiful life making clothes for beautiful woman and would be able to put bread and meals on my table, and it is true, it was a blessed thing, for eventually that was my job as a widow with three children in tow.
I liked Erich. It wasn't a great passion, nothing like what I read (and sometimes yearned for) in books, but it was good.
I bless the time I have had to deal only with myself. My place in this world. It seems odd, with the world falling apart around me, the country in surrender. All these visions of horror all about me. The Leitners said over in town there once were three men hanged in the town square. Why? They were Germans hanged by Germans. We are our own enemies in this world. Has it always been like that?
And then why am I alive?
I am happy to be alive. What fate has allowed me to still be here?
* * * * *
My girls are here. Both of them. A complete surprise. When the Leitners took me to town to meet Monika's train, it wasn't just Monika, but Gabi as well. I am ecstatic. It gives me this delicious feeling of joy in my chest. I always thought Gabi was not very fond of me. Then she stepped down from the train with her amazing smile.
"You too? Oh what a wonderful surprise."
"Well, what did you think?" she said while I was trying to keep tears to myself. "Of course I'd come."
I don't know why. Has she forgiven me? I guess there is really nothing to forgive. I am so happy. It is the best thing about this sudden change that is to take place. Seeing her step down the train step, her eyes shimmering, and her words "Of course I'd come."
Somehow I feel lighter around her.
Why am I so reluctant to be among people? That's easy. They imprison me in this deplorable role of old widow. There are certain rules for old women in this country, and there are certain rules for mothers, and there are certain rules for widows. All of them are strict separately, but if you put them all together, it makes it hard to so much as move or breathe.
What would I do with my life if I were capable of moving freely? I have no idea now. I feel defeated. If I had Gabi's youth and energy, oh, I would soar.
Erich. He was kind and gentle. Without him, I've always been a bit lost, like a roof without walls to hold it up. There were days when I just wanted to be done with it all. I couldn't put the world to rights. So what was the point? There was so much evil. Even now I can't get rid of the idea of men hanging one another or shooting each other in the back for surrendering. Why?
Of course all war is really killing off one another without remorse. It is an anger that has eaten into our soul. My soul is angry, too.
I will tell Gabi how happy she makes me with her strength, her rebellion, all of that. But I can't really. Would she understand if I told her? Or would she think I was the weirdest mother in the world? Mothers don't talk to their children about stuff like that.
Gerhard's wife. I will never get to meet her now. Probably for the best. Very likely I'd despise her for not being with him, for being aloof, and therefore in my book not good enough for him.
After Erich died, 1916, my God, that's thirty years ago, I've now been alone for thirty years more or less. Twenty-nine and a bit, but of course he wasn't home much that last year. Gabi is my last connection to him, so no wonder I feel so much for her.
Darklight. That's the only word I am capable of thinking of right now.
We could all be so beautiful.
We are in face so beautiful. But we are so dreadfully misguided.
We don't have the nerve to be honest with each other, and yet when we are less than honest, we do not live. Not genuinely. And when we are not living genuinely, then it all becomes a burden.
What do we want from each other? Love, I think.
And what do we give each other? Jealousy. Greed. Misery. War.
I can't get the three young men out of my mind. The war was already over. Germany had surrendered. I imagine them young, happy to no longer have to fight a war they barely understood, only that they must be in it. What their horror must have been to realize that their own were now turned against them in a rage for having lost the war. The ones they had fought for and fought with were now the enemy because a good German never surrenders, and a bad German shouldn't be allowed to live.
We are the enemy.
I wonder what it would be like to have no need for escape, to just be gloriously alive and beautiful with all of our feelings.
What did I want from life? I wanted a simple life of living side by side with Erich, making fancy clothes for people richer than we were, and simple clothes for people like us.
I want to praise the world, it is beautiful. I cannot help but admire it, the grasses, the flowers, the trees, the many beautiful things.
I remember the day Gerhard brought me a tin of Schoka-ko-la he had, and we each broke off one segment of dark chocolate for several days until it was all gone.
I remember how he said one day: "I know we have a book somewhere." Then, after rummaging in his storeroom, he came up with a volume of Goethe poems. I started reciting the one about the violet. So he teased me. "Oh, okay, you don't really need it."
"No, give it to me, give it to me," I said passionately, then added: "If you would please.
"I liked that flare of passion," he said.
I turned beet red.
So I am sad now. There is nothing to escape to, only myself, over and over, and I am not intrinsically boring, but I am boring when I do not have a true connection with the world.
I wanted to live side by side with Erich all my life. I wanted him to love me fairy tale fashion, and I do think he loved me. But who will ever know?
We were already becoming old hat to each other. Women were interested in him, never mind that he was married to me. Never mind that they were married to other men. That's another thing I find hard to understand. I'd been taught fidelity and love for a lifetime. Not necessarily by my parents' example, but by the fairy tales I read. And of course by my own bodies yearning. But apparently that wasn't so for everyone.
It is difficult for me to understand why we do not live with one another in complete awe.
Perhaps the most honest time I have ever lived was when I was hungry on the road last year and still loving the beauty of everything. Sunrise, blades of grass with drops of morning dew. Poppy flowers unfolding their wrinkled dresses, more beautiful than anything I could possibly sew, even if I had the most delicate material.
I want to be important. Other people are always important, but when I am alone, and only when I am alone, I am important, too.
I wonder whether we will have another turnip winter. I wonder if the children remember. They were so young in 1916 and 1917 when we were all so hungry. I was fortunate. I always managed to get bread for all of us somehow.
I don't much like reality. War is the absurdist thing we can do in this world. There's not much I can do about it. I feel so small.
I walked outside most of the day yesterday, appreciating the beauty of this world that has been saved for me, and that I am now about to lose again.
How will I explain to the children why I didn't come looking for them? Will it be possible to avoid the subject? I think just maybe I'll be able to pull it off. I'll look extra stern every time anyone broaches the subject, and with any luck they will politely back off.
The Learners, I'm sure, had something to do with them finding me, trying to do me a favor. And I guess it is a favor.
I am afraid there's nothing left for me to do here. I tried to do my usual house chores earlier today, but Mrs. Leitner waved me off. "I'm sure you have a lot to do to prepare."
They assume I will take off with my daughter. And I assume I will, too. Perhaps that's my problem. I'm trapped in a world in which everybody assumes they know what is best and appropriate for me. Nobody asks what I want. Why that would be preposterous. Ask an old lady what she wants, when the path is so clearly marked and prescribed?
Little Katrin is still sick, so I gave her my brocade vest as a gift. She's the only one who will even fit into it and I never wear it.
The one unnecessary thing I brought with me is my brocade vest. It seemed so important to keep one item of beauty. Now I've given it to little Katrin, and she loves it.
She loves me, too, that's the amazing part. I love it when children take to me, little children who aren't yet indoctrinated in the ways of being distant and polite in this world. I am so glad when a child loves me. Once Gabi loved me like that.
I am glad that Katrin has my vest, even if she, too, never has any good use for it. I wore it secretly from time to time when I still lived at Gerhard's place, but then he surprised me in it one time. He complimented me profusely, and he was right, it did look special, and I in it. But after his compliments I was too shy to ever wear it again. Funny, too, I didn't realize until I gave my favorite useless garment to a child just how small I am.
It wasn't that I didn't want to see my children again, no. It was just that I put off looking for them. I am lost in my own world, and I like it. I liked it, I should say. It is coming to an end. One Year. I have never been so alone in all my life, and I have never been so happy.
Gerhard. I remember I was about to lie down in the straw again when his face appeared in the one window of the barn. I could feel all my limbs become numb. My whole life has been lived with a background of fear of men. A terrible, dull fear all the time. And now his face at the window.
When Erich didn’t come back from the war in 1916, my parents were still alive. They were willing to take care of me, and I kept working in father's shop as though nothing had happened. After a few years they wondered why I didn't remarry. Everybody wondered. I simply didn't want to.
The winter of 1916 was hard. No word yet about Erich, though that in itself was ominous, he used to write letters regularly. Then nothing. Then one day the news. Erich was dead.
Children clung to their parents. I don't want to remember. But I have remembered every day of my life.
When he left last, for France, in the summer of 1916, he said, "If I have to die, so long as I know that you and the children are safe here, I will die happy."
I was so young then still. I simply didn't want to admit that he was gone. It was so pointless.
That's one of the reasons perhaps that I didn't want to go find my children. They're grown up. If I didn't know then I could imagine they were alive and happy somewhere. I didn't want to be looking for them and find that they, too, were gone. Or sick. Or suffering. How often can you lose things in life and still not go insane?
So Gerhard found me in the barn. He was prosaic.
"It would be more comfortable for you over in the house," he said.
"But it's not mine," I said. "I'm only passing through. Do you know who owns it?"
"Yes. I own it," he said. "And you can stay as long as you like. You look like you could use some rest."
The next thing I knew I was very ill. I want to tell myself that, had he not been there, I would have mustered the strength to carry on, but this little bit of solicitude took the wind out of my sails and out of my soul. I fell apart.
He brought me beef stock he cooked himself.
He washed me.
"I needed to," he said. "You were filthy. You had a high fever. You were lucky, though, you didn't have lice. And I wanted to do something useful in the world."
He brought a chicken and made it into a meal as well. I tried to eat as little as possible, but he still managed to feed me most of it.
"Never you mind how I got that," he said.
He was always cheerful and kind. It has always been hard for me to accept anything from anyone. And he managed to make it easy.
"How can I make good on all of this?" I asked.
"It is good already. We are alive."
He never asked questions, but he made it clear that it was good to tell him things. He reminded me of Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov. That kind of feeling, though I hadn't read the book in a long while, maybe in my early twenties when I was with Erich who was not interested in reading much.
I told him why I didn't want to look for my children. I emphasized the fear, of course, not the weariness of my tiresome role as mother.
He told me I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do. It would be easier if I declared my presence and registered because we could both collect food rations. But if I didn't want to, then we would live on his. The end. He was so kind.
We sat side by side one evening watching the sun set, as we often did while I was recovering.
"I'm married, you know," he said. I wanted to laugh out loud. And his point was?
I wish I were back in the early days with Gerhard. He sat on his haunches in front of me in his barn and persuaded me that it would be better for me to stay in a room in the house, at least for a night.
"Pretty clean," he promised. "No spiders. No daddy longlegs."
"I've kind of made my peace with crawly things these last few weeks," I told him.
"Yeah, I supposed you have. How long have you been on the road?"
"Five weeks," I told him.
"All on your own?"
"Just the last two weeks," I said. "Before I was with another woman, and some other people from time to time."
So he persuaded me to go over to the main house with him. I wanted to ask him so many questions. Was it going to be a nuisance to have me there? Was I going to be a burden? That's been my greatest fear all of my life—to be a burden, and of course I had to always live put my greatest fear. A widow with three children in a country recovering from one war only to stride into the next, what could I be but a burden? True, I was working, I was producing something. It never felt like it was enough.
Anyway, he opened the door to the neatest, prettiest room with white walls and a crucifix over the small bed by the window. The bedding looked so thick and inviting.
"Thank you," I apparently managed to say before I plain fainted away in the middle of the doorway. I don't remember at all, but of course he told me later, he carried me and my meager belongings into the room, then decided to give me that bath. I was mortified when he told me later. He tried to make light of it. How he wasn't going to put me into that clean bed without me taking a bath. Lice were always a consideration and while he wanted to be humanitarian, he didn't want to be overrun by vermin. Can't blame him. Also, he told me, I was smaller than his own teenage daughter, so I shouldn't worry if he's seen a piece or two of my skin. He was so kind and he probably saved my life.
But seeing the tidy room with its white down bedding, I think my body said to itself: this is it—safety. I think I'll throw the exhaustion party I've been thinking of for days, planning for days, fantasized for days, dreamed of for days.
I was delirious with fever for several days and even though I was seriously malnourished, he later told me I wouldn't take any food at all at first. He tried oats and wheat. He got the doctor from the nearby town to come once and he said my prognosis was so-so, especially with what food was, or rather was not, available. The doctor wanted me to have meat broth, beef broth would be best. Would chicken or rabbit broth do? Gerhard asked. Apparently yes. Still, he also managed to get some bones from the butcher in town, which he boiled and improved with salt and herbs.
Gerhard told me later when he saw me stumble into his barn, he took it as some kind of sign and vowed to take care of me. Then he would take my getting well as a sign from God that things would get well on the farm again, too. We were to be a simultaneous project, me and his farm.
Because it was summer, it almost looked like his farm rallied faster than I did.
It was his teenage daughter's bedroom and bed that I slept in. Katrin. But she lived with her mother in Hannover—they were seldom here, both disliking farm life, and he'd been living with them in the city for the last few years until he, too, was called up for service, but so late that he never saw action. And he'd come back to revive the farm because it was there, it was theirs, and it might be a security against all kinds of food shortage and other shortages that were likely to come about in the near future.
I wanted to do something to help, but I was a zero at farm work.
I did, starting with new curtains for the entire house. And I cooked most meals, though he was by far the better cook. I remember him making onions with liver he had somehow obtained at the butchers. And apples. He was a charmer, is a charmer. He gets everything he wants.
At first hanging out with Gerhard was easy and lovely because of his indomitable spirit. Yes, he'd get everything he really wanted, from everyone.
He never wanted me, though, not the way a man wants a woman. This was good and bad, both. Good because it spared us great discomfort; bad because it underlined my absolute insignificance in this life.
He says while I was in my fever and hallucinations, I would call the name Erich. He thought I was calling to him, and for a while he would try to correct me that his name was Gerhard, but I kept turning and twisting and calling for Erich.
"Your husband?" Gerhard asked when I was lucid again. I nodded. I couldn't speak. My throat was closed.
"He's no longer alive?" he asked, interpreting my difficulty speaking.
I shook my head.
"When did he die?"
"In 1916, a French . . . a prisoner of war," I said. I remember Gerhard's intake of breath.
"Not what you thought," I said.
"No. I thought more recently, this war. It's your second war then."
"Yours, too," I said.
"I was just a kid then." He nodded. "You have children?"
"Three," I said.
"They are well?" he asked.
"They were in February."
I told Gerhard once how I used to brush my hair, a hundred brush strokes each night, and he went and found a brush for me. It had a mother of pearl pattern on the handle. Such beautiful flakes of shimmer mystery.
I am afraid of the endless secrets we live. I wish I could meet Gerhard as a human being, without any hiding. I am afraid of this endless dishonesty that we force on each other—as though we were critters, strangers to each other, and we endlessly mess with each other's peace of mind.
I had a hard time writing again today. There's so much I still want to capture, but instead I went into Gerhard's forest again. Mulling over everything.
I felt ashamed, or perhaps guilty more than ashamed. that I didn't vigorously search for everyone. What was it? I feel distant. I feel guilty that I have brought them into this world which is a cruel world. Yes, it has given them laughter and light. And also so much cruelty. It just keeps going on and on and on. One cruelty after another. One torment after another. One hunger after another.
Sometimes I feel like a skeleton.
I have so much hatred for others in my life. Why are these hatreds so very prevalent? They seem to stick to me constantly, like burrs. Whereas the beautiful parts, people like Gerhard, are like a light mantle that is easily ignored and forgotten.
I am sixty-one years old. Why am I not in charge of my life?
Gerhard and Gabi are my shining, saving lights in this dark world.
I wonder what Gerhard's wife is like. I will not meet her now. She looks imposing on the handful of photos Gerhard showed me. I already don't like her without even knowing her. I think she's not worthy of him. I've known people like that. They are chronically better than others. Her daughter no doubt is the best daughter in the world; her cherries no doubt are better than other people's cherries. Meanwhile there are people like me. I want recognition, too, but I have been meticulously trained to be humble, to let others be first. To let others be better.
Oh, how I hate them.
Oh, how I hate my own judgment.
I cannot focus. I want to keep hold of all these lovely ideas and insights I have, but instead I am full of fear and unease.
"My children are better than your children."
I think in a lot of ways I have done my children a great disservice by not bragging about them. I wish I had now. It is such a strange thing to be trained to be modest, and to pass that burden along.
Monika is the one who really makes me feel guilty. She's so clumsy in her great faith in the Lord. It's like she's lumbering along on a huge crutch she has selected and now that's how she walks through the world, awkwardly. And forbidding in her enlightened sternness.
I would never dare tell her about my thoughts. She'd judge them and I'd be too tired to defend them. Then she'd no doubt recommend some pious panacea. As a result, with her I will always be slightly dishonest. I can't stand lectures. From my own daughter or from anyone else.
Gabi doesn't lecture. Gabi only turns away and distances herself.
It's a wounded world when you cannot talk openly to your own children.
So often I don't want to be who I am. Judgmental, cold, and bristly. I thought it was required. I wish I could be as warm and alive as someone like Gerhard.
I was so sad when the village "discovered" we were living together. This promptly stopped everything that was excellent. The moral guard stepped in.
I would have rather kept on living with him on his farm. But the villagers determined that it just wouldn't do. I had to move in with the Leitners who graciously offered me a room and meals in return for household chores.
Gerhard taught me so much, about warmth, about being a decent human being, and when I had to move on, I wasn't nearly done learning. He told me he saw no direct action in war. Still, he was there. It feels like we women are always kept in the background of hunger and ineffectual sobbing.
There is a sweetness, a gentleness that comes from suffering. What did Gerhard see that has made him so gentle? He only told me about the young man who was shot in the back.
He told me of the young soldier who was shot in the back. Like the three young men hanged in town. I guess nobody hanged or shot women, but still, these were dangerous times.
"It could have been me," he said. Yes, it does makes one feel lucky to be alive.
It is a horrible world where we feel compelled to punish survivors just for having the great luck to be able to keep on living in youth and in flower.
I wish I believed in God. If I did, I would pray that I may never be destroyed or have my humanity destroyed in the grip of envy or other ill will and vengefulness.
Gerhard was in the untrained reserve, called up late. Volkssturm, all men age sixteen to sixty had to go in October of 1944. Gerhard always was a pacifist at heart, but there came this time when he had no choice.
I don't want to be as dark as I am. I wasn't born to be this dark. I was born to live and love life.
I wake up cringing against the awkwardness of having to take my place in the human world of interaction again. I ought to be joyous. I ought to be ecstatic.
It's easy. They're both here. Now all I have to do is finish packing. There's not much to pack. I can go with them, no problem. I do not want to. Seeing them again is amazing, indescribable. And yet I don't want to be with them. Gabi is beautiful. I didn't expect her to come. Something old-forgotten burned like a gentle flame in my chest.
It is so strange. My last little one, my last greeting from Erich, my last gift from the past. She's so beautiful, so young, so lovely.
I watch her. Monika is more of a talker. It is such a luxury for both of them to come, almost a waste.
Gabi's words: "Of course I had to come."
What a miracle to see her again. She has a beautiful light in her eyes, and here they both are. Gerhard invited us to the farm and all three of us went. I looked at everything through Gabi's eyes.
"You made these curtains? They're beautiful."
Now I don't know what will happen. Monika works in a hospital and they have promised her that I could have some work with them if I came. I wonder what it will be. Kitchen, or cleaning, or nurse's aide perhaps. So that's what will happen. Gabi is helping out in a grocery store. Her love affairs? None. I believe she is very attractive.
She's too beautiful to be a spinster, but I don't know, she's not interested in men, though they're always interested in her. I hope I haven't caused that in her somehow.
I've watched her with Gerhard. She doesn't flirt. Nothing. Even Monika tries, makes an effort to make herself agreeable to Gerhard. Not Gabi. They'll both be spinsters.
Gerhard is the one who has taught me kindness.
At first the sight of Gabi gave me such a warm fire in my chest.
Why do I have no passion? I am so lost in this world. I have forgotten what I want and who I am, and so I am no longer a viable human being.
Strange. Sad. Sickening.
Why did I have to be so turned to stone, like in a fairy tale of old? It didn't profit anyone.
That is what witches do in fairy tales—they turn you to stone and you have to, if at all possible, avoid it. I have tried. I have not been successful. I should not have allowed this turning to stone. Once upon a time I had such longing for life and now I have none.
I wouldn't dream of telling my daughters this. It is not necessary that they know the truth, that I am old, and that the only glimmer of fire left in me is anger and indignation and perhaps a small light of pride, though I am suspicious of the concept of pride. The thousands and thousands of death notices: "In proud sorrow." How can you be proud of the death of your fathers, brothers, husbands, sons?
When Erich left I tried to keep the children indifferent—I'd seen it with others, hugging their fathers' knees and not wanting to let go. What a farce. I didn't want him to go, no. I believe war is an atrocity, no matter what. People who wear different clothes to be able to tell each other apart killing the ones with the other clothes. How is that sensible? It is stupid. It is evil.
And yet in the twenties I had to take on military assignments, making armbands, putting emblems on brown shirts and hats. I had to feed my children by promoting this new national pride that then not ten years later led us back into a misery that was already too familiar. Now we have to do it all over again. Except this time, today . . . .
I was interrupted. Gabi left. She had only taken off the weekend and two days surrounding it.
She is so beautiful. I could stare at her for hours. No, she looks nothing like me. She looks much stronger.
Gerhard's farm is in good shape now. Even a flock of white geese. Thank you, life. I wish I knew better what to do.
I feel bereft.
It has not been easy for me. It has also not been particularly difficult.
The sun rises every morning. I am grateful for the memories. I am grateful for my daughters and that they looked for me and came for me. I am grateful Tillmann and his wife and two of his children are alive.
Every day the same ache, though, the same agony.
My bags are packed. There is only one thing left to do: go and burn these pages. I thought I would want to keep them. I was mistaken. They have turned too dark, so I will go and burn my darkness, turn it over to God and the world. God already knows. How I have done my best. How I once wanted to praise and bring joy and love into the world. How I have been challenged by the bitterness of the world. How I have been conquered by the world. How it became a horror around me.
I wish I had the hopeful energy of youth. I do not. Things have become dark. Maybe they always were that. I smile at people. I do try to hide the darkness. It is the best I can do. Life is good to me. I am moving. My fingers grasp, my lungs are breathing. It is a miracle to be alive. I am amazed that with this miraculous being we do not constantly all sing. The darkness. I keep trying to hide the darkness that has been imposed on me, the bitterness. The responsibility or else the duty to watch all this. We build worlds, and then we smash them. It seems so foolish.
I try to smile and be kind. For Gerhard's sake. For Erich's sake. I wonder if Erich's spirit is out there watching over us. So many of us dreamers dream of this.
The darkness is so huge.
In the past I have gone on new adventures, I have survived losses, I have gone on and on. Now I am tired. Monika says I'll sleep with her in her room at first. I can work a little to earn my keep, and eventually I'll get my own room. I should be excited. I am exhausted instead.
I am grateful to Gerhard for keeping me alive.
I am afraid of the future.
I am old and lost in this life that should have been beautiful.
I have made so many mistakes, and perhaps the greatest of all is that I have thought too much about all these things, that I have hoped too much, that I have seen the potential for enormous beauty and then have witnessed the incurable starkness of our. I am so filled with horror.
I want to be gone now. It is best to throw out my writing. I thought I could preserve my freedom with it somehow. But I cannot.
God, what have you done to us? We have invented you for solace and for inspiration, and then it turns out we just use you to justify each other's cruelties.
If I had the right mind, it would be hot inside my breast with gratitude. As it is, I am just cringing with a sense of wanting to be done.
There was a progression life should have had. A beauty. It didn't happen. Instead of flowering, we dry up and kill each other out of resentment. Maybe if I had been a man with even more angry spirit, I would also have started wars instead of whimpering like this and nursing dark thoughts of disappointment until they poison me and numb me from the inside. Blessings to you, Erich, for have been my companion in early life. Blessings to you, Gerhard, for saving my life in the end. Blessings to you, my children, for making me strong enough to go on, over and over and over, without just giving up in the face of so much darkness. It is time to go on and be brave some more. To read a few poems, to laugh a few laughters.
Today we leave.
I will now walk up to the hill behind Gerhard's barn and bury these pages. I can't burn them now, after all, not in the middle of the summer. It would draw too much attention. I thought of dropping them into the well, but that would probably cause some problem. Hope it wouldn't outright poison the well.
I love you, world, despite everything. Goodbye.
I did ask the Leitners about Gerhard's wife. Snooty is what Mrs. Leitner finally said. Too bad.
Anger isn't allowed to a woman. But it is there. Anger at the facility with which nations declare and conduct war. Kill our men.
I do not like this anger that is boiling in me all the time, and anger always survives.
My parents were in their fifties when Erich died. So I went to live with them with the children.
It is like a bunch of boys—and they are allowed to act out their anger by putting on some uniform or another, and stand opposite each other with shot guns and just have at it. No longer even sword or dagger.
We make it wholesale death.
I wasn't raised to anger.
I was raised to sorrow. Sorrow was permitted. Grief was permitted, but in a lot of ways, grief hasn't happened. Anger was stronger. Anger stopped me short of grief and sadness. I could never get beyond anger. I am grateful to my anger. It kept me strong and functional where grief might have devastated me. Then what would have happened to my children? I felt I had a responsibility for them. And what have I accomplished? One is a church mouse, the other a young intellectual spewing rebel energy into the world, and finally the third, the boy, a soldier—now out of work but with enough experience to go on and make a living. Somehow.
Anger trumps everything.
It is the only thing occasionally bursting out of the cold wall I have built around myself.
What is behind my wall?
Oh, only my life's search, my deep love for a world that is so beautiful and so mismanaged by its human inhabitants.
Another secret: my deep love for Erich who, like me, like so many others, wasn't given much of a choice in anything. I praise the world for letting us be together, if only for a little while. As colleagues, as competitors for my father's favor and for the projects. And sometimes, for a moment, I am able to forget the present and I am able to love him again.
Erich was an apprentice in my father's shop. At first I didn't want to have anything to do with him. I didn't want to be part of a cliché. The apprentice and the master's daughter. But I liked him. So did my father.
It took us long enough to get married. I guess my inner Gabi, too, was quite reluctant.
In any event, I won't lack for grandchildren, as Tillmann has already two sons. The little girl, Monika writes, died on the trip. Pneumonia. "The name will go on though," she writes. What do I care? It's not my name or my father's name.
He was fourteen and I was eleven when he first came to be my father's apprentice. I'd give him plums and cherries when they were in season. I adored him, never having had a sibling. All the other apprentices that came and went over the years, they were ugly or dumb, or both. With Erich there was a light, always. At Christmas time I gave him hazelnut cookies. And once he gave me an orange. I was so in love with him. Then he went away to work in other places, to seek his fortune. He went as far as Berlin and always promised to take me to Berlin one day. He never did and I've never been. Then he was conscripted, late, he was in his thirties already; everybody was always assuming the war would be over quickly, that stupid first war.
I remember when he returned from his years in Berlin. He felt like such a stranger, and so handsome.
I asked him once, what were the girls like in Berlin? His words were a quick caress. "I don't remember," he said. "I was always thinking of you." I knew this was probably not true, but I also knew then that he was the one for me.
I was meant to love and to be sentimental. I don't know what I would have become, had I been allowed to be who I might have been.
I was meant to be joyous in this world, grow violets, travel the world with my love.
I was meant to be young, forever young and beautiful.
I wish we could have shared those eight years he was gone but still in this life.
I have to go. Goodbye.