The newspaper had me in tears this morning. (No, it wasn’t my horoscope!) It was the last in a series of letters The Globe and Mail has been publishing from a Second World War soldier David Hazzard to his wife, Audrey.
Every morning, I looked forward to reading the latest installment. The letters – each one beginning “Dear Sweetheart” and ending “P.S. I love you” — are funny, warm and personal. You can feel the love between the couple in every line and get a sense of the hardships and loneliness of a soldier’s life.
I guess I just assumed from the cheery tone of David Hazzard’s recent letters that all would end well. It didn’t.
This morning, when the headline for the series read, “July 2, 1944: David Hazzard’s last letter,” followed by “David wrote this letter three days before he died,” my heart sank. I felt a little like I was the one getting the tragic telegram confirming his death by mortar fire.
The only happy ending to the story was that the Hazzards’ two grown daughters travelled to France in September to place their mother’s ashes at their father’s grave: “We have put them back together,” said daughter Anne, “They were meant to be together.”
I couldn’t believe I was weeping over a tragedy that happened more than 60 years ago, but their story and abiding devotion touched me deeply.
What really set me off was this paragraph: “On Dec. 17, Audrey received one last message from David: a bouquet of roses, one for each of her 31 years. He had arranged the delivery before leaving England six months earlier.”
He ended his final letter, “And now just space for an important message. I love you! Now and always. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and nanny, I am “Yours.” David K. P.S. I love you, Dave.”
You can probably guess what my good deed was today. I sat down and wrote a heartfelt letter to Canadian peacekeepers stationed in Afghanistan (see the link in my blogroll if you’d like to do the same). I’ve sent short notes before but this one felt like a real letter. I don’t know the person or persons who will end up reading it, but I do know they are there on our behalf and many, like David Hazzard, will not make it home for Christmas.
On Tuesday, the bodies of three more soldiers killed in Afghanistan returned to Canadian soil. The three arrived in Canada the day after funeral services were held for the last of three Canadian soldiers killed there the week before.
Reading the series of David Hazzard’s letters helped remind me how powerful a gift a letter can be.
I didn’t start my letter “Dear Sweetheart” but instead “My Dear Brave Friend” ….
P.S. On a cheerier not, here’s one of my favourite carols. Enjoy!