I can't believe it's been nearly six months since you left. I keep wanting to note things down to tell you, or to see what you think about a decision, before realising that I can't do so anymore. Or at least - there's no physical address I can send it to, much as I feel you are still there. Somewhere, even if I can't see you anymore, read your reply or hear your voice.
You left us far too early, my dearest friend. We were supposed to grow old as we built up our school, our security, safe haven. Although it seems such a foolish thought now, I should have realised that our age difference made that unlikely, even before I met Jem and my life took a different route. I realise nowjust how much I left on your shoulders when I married, yet as ever you didn't complain, you simply did what needed to be done.
I still find it so hard not to think that you're just in another room, or at the school perhaps. I pick up the phone to ring you, to check in daily, as we used to do. I know it's silly, after all we stopped doing that when you first fell ill, but at least we saw each other fairly often. Then with the chaos of the past few years, I just didn't have time to properly register that you really have gone. There is still a sense of unreality about it, as if perhaps you are just on holiday.
Things are still all in confusion here, we will have to move the school again. Joey is raging about it, having to leave her little home. I wish I could feel that it was safe to stay, but all of the signs suggest that France will fall, and this proud island will not remain a free place for long. Joey may wail, but she made herself a possible target when she opposed the system, none of us will feel her safe until she is well on the way to the mainland with the Triplets. I wish you could have seen her with the triplets, they are such cheerful, smiley little souls, and Joey manages them so well.
You would be proud of her, Therese. She's taken to motherhood in a way that I'd never have expected. Typically heedless of herself, and flippant about the 'brats' of course, but she is a wonderful mother. She manages her three so well, you would never think that she was that young girl we used to watch for chills, or overwork. It seems so strange sometimes to think of her as the same Joey who was never going to marry, let alone have children. She has another book published too, you know. I don't remember whether you ever knew about Gypsy Jocelyn, but it seems sure to be a great success.
The school is doing well despite all of the moves, though we are a much smaller affair now. We have a great team there, I truely consider most of them friends and family, not staff. Hilda was so reluctant to take the helm when you were sure that you wouldn't be coming back to be headmistress, yet she is another who has taken to her role as if born to be there. I know that I can leave most decisions to her, which is a relief as my nursery is so full now.
That's another sadness, my youngest will never know you. Even David and Sybil will have only slight memories, although Peggy and Rix will perhaps have more. They won't know your laugh, or be taught by you. They won't be able to turn to you for help in the way I slightly expected them to be able to, before your illness became so bad. As I always assumed I would be able to have you there for advice, so I hoped it for them, for them to know and love their 'Aunt Therese'
I've so much to talk to you about, so many things I would want to ask your advice, or hear your calm opinion. No one letter could express the amount I miss you, my friend. I know in my head that this is the right thing given the circumstances. After all, you're no longer in pain, have gone to a better place. Yet a selfish part of my heart wishes you were still here, still my sounding board and confidante, my dear friend.
Yet I wouldn't want you to be here to see what is happening to your dear France, or know the losses that I am sure we'll suffer before the madness of this war is over. I know that you'd worry about your family, and be sad that Simone and Renee's futures cannot go on exactly as planned. They are also growing up so well, strong and reliable young women, just as you wanted them to be, and all because of you, your strength and support. I always felt that you were more like mother to Simone at least. I wonder sometimes whether she feels or felt the same.
So I will stop being selfish, wishing that you could still be with us here,that you had a future along with us, rather than your own direction. I know that you were in pain, and that you were ready to go.
I will be leaving this home, this refuge, soon, and returning to England, to Armishire in fact. It seems just barely minutes since we arrived, yet this feels like another home that we are leaving. It's the right decision, but somehow I feel a need to mourn our return to the mainland. We had our plan, you and I, our escape from an England that was so unforgiving of our lack of capital. Yes, I return in a better financial state, but the Tyrol was such a refuge, and with the war the whole past few years, just seem to get further away, as if it were all a dream. I return to England a respectable wife and mother, with a successful business. I ought to feel proud, feel lucky for my blessings, and I do. I just feel sometimes so far from that young idealistic girl you agreed to take a risk with, not that many years ago. Perhaps that's why you're so much on my mind at the moment. You believed in me, trusted that we could make this school work; And we did. It did work, it does work, and I pray that it will continue to do so in it's new home.
I am rambling now, my dear Therese, and I shall finish this letter, go on with the preparations for leaving, return to England. Thank you. Even in your absence you have helped, as always you ground me and help me to be stronger.
With all love,
I'm not sure if this has already been done, but the plot bunny just wouldn't leave !