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Part Four

Evelyn Albright’s “Letters” To Frederick Albright

Written By Evelyn After Fred's Death At The Battle Of Passchendaele, October, 1917


Introduction

Two weeks after Evelyn Albright received the telegram from the War Office telling her the awful news that Fred Albright had been killed at Passchendaele on October 26, 1917 she began to write down her thoughts and feelings in a notebook. Evelyn expresses her overwhelming grief in the form of actual letters to Fred, letters which can never be received.

The poignancy of these ‘post death’ letters to Fred displays the total loss, loneliness and complete devastation felt by Evelyn in the early months of widowhood.



Taber, Alta
Nov. 23, 1917

Dearest:-

It is not yet two weeks since I wrote my last letter to you, not two weeks since I read that awful telegram that told me you were gone from me.

I suppose it seems silly for me to write to you, but if you know, you’ll understand, and nobody else need know. But it has come to me that time might dim your image and the knowledge of your dear companionship, and I cannot bear to think of that. Then too, my darling, oh my darling, I sometimes cannot believe that you are gone, and I go on pretending as I have ever since you went away last March, that you were coming home again. And if you should - why then you’d be glad of a link between the times. It is so easy, sweetheart, to lose myself in dreaming, for whenever hard unpleasant things have come, I have always made believe things were as I would have them. But in this case, the coming back to Earth is hard.

I think it has been like this, sweetheart. I could not, would not face the thought that you would not come back: I interpreted those psalms we read together, as meaning that you would be kept safe from accident, danger and death. When I knew that you were in the thick of things, I went calmly to sleep at night, believing that you were in God’s hands and that He would keep you safe, for I could not, and do not yet believe that it is His will that any of you should fall. Some of the time, while I so calmly slept and went about my work, you were lying dead Dead! Oh my darling, as I have so often called you - the light of my life.

I have thought of late dear one, that I did not fully realize what it meant to you to go. I was so filled with my own grief, with the thought of my loneliness, and with the dread of what you would have to face, that I did not fully realize what it meant to you to give up all you did and to leave me, fearing that you might never come back. You have always said I wrote cheerful letters; I am glad if you thought they were, for I tried to make them so for you had enough to bear, without me making your lot harder.

The woman is coming up to sweep, so I’ll stop. But my dear one, it almost seems as if you’ll read this some day. Or is it that you are reading it over my shoulder as I write? In any case, you know I adore you, my sweetheart and my friend. Oh darling, I shall try to live on cheerfully and well, but it seems that I am like a tree, half killed my [sic] lightning. Such a tree, I suppose is not expected to give the shade of a whole one - but the question always comes, why should it have been marred and blighted? Do you know now?

Your wife, for wherever you are, my darling, I shall always be that.




Oct Nov. 24/17

My Own:-

I keep writing “October” for it was a year ago to-day or yesterday or tomorrow, or the day after. To-day came a kindly letter from Bob Pearson telling me that you were killed by a shell. Ferd, I cannot cannot believe it. Sometimes it seems as if you tell me that it is, and sometimes that it is not, and I go nearly mad. I suppose I ought not to entertain the thought at all, and yet at times it brings me almost happiness.

Down here, Auntie is worrying about Ross’ going, and I guess I am not properly sympathetic, for why should he not go? And it seems sometimes as if nobody understands because they do not know how we loved each other. And if it is almost unbearable to lose a son, what about a husband? For there goes one’s chance of children as well. I must not reproach myself darling, you never did. I thought it was fairest to the child, and oh darling, I believed that you would come back.

I had a letter from Dr. Alexander to-day. He seemed to understand - he said it meant tearing my life out by the roots. And it does. Your loving care, your dear companionship, our home and children, all, all gone. Sometimes you used to lie on my arm and look up at me with such a confiding smile that I felt you were my baby. All I’ll ever have now. And I wanted them so much, so much.

To-day there were letters from all the Fleak’s, from father, mother and Ora. Ora says “Be brave, you are needed.” And father says, dear dad, how did he know I was asking the question “Why should the best fall?” that “If anybody would have done, Barrabas might have done as well as Christ.” No, I do not think I am wrong in connecting your names.

The rest are in bed. Good night my own. Oh, for your arms about me, and your lips on mine.

Your wife.




Nov. 25/17

My Own Ferd:-

I was re-reading to-day your letters of the 17th & 18th of last month. When I read your letters, they seem to bring you very, very near to me. I cannot realize that you are gone, and I have been thinking that there is no reason why I should not consider that you are “Just Away.” But oh, the loneliness when I realize that there is no “Coming Back.” In that letter you asked what you would do without me. I am so glad sweetheart, that you had me for I know that it made your hard way easier, though in a way it made it harder, for you always knew I loved you.

There was another letter from Daddy to-day - Wray did not get last night’s mail until to-day and one from Ora. Art [Ritchie] has been made a major. She asks if I think her greedy for being glad for his sake. No, I’m not that small. I had hoped to see my sweetheart come home with at least that rank. Nevertheless, I am prouder for the esteem in which you were held in Calgary than if you had been a Lieut. Col. Or a Brigadier General. And nothing you could have done could have made you dearer to me. I must never forget that you are my husband, and I’ll try, oh so hard sweet one, to live up to the example you have set for me. Here is Marge, so I’ll stop.

Your kiddie.




Nov. 26/17

My darling, my darling, my darling I have been reading a story and at the end comes the overwhelming thought that you will never speak to me again. And yet in the back of my head, something says that you will yet come back. My heart feels as if made of stone. Oh sweetheart, how can I, how can I live without you. Everything seems so vain and empty. So often I have told you you were the light of my life.




Nov. 27 [1917]

Ah my dearie, I wonder if all people feel the same as I do. I sometimes forget that you are not somewhere, and go about my work; then into my head beat the deadly words “killed in action, killed in action, killed in action” and then I realize that my lovely one, as I call you to myself, gone, gone, gone. I suppose having you away for a time has dulled the blow to some extent, and yet in another way it has made it harder. If you could have been held in my arms. Oh darling I can’t, I can’t think that I’ll never again feel your kiss or have your arms about me.

Last night I wept and called for you, it seemed a long long time and you did not come to me even in my dreams.

To-day I have been re-lining my coat. It was my birthday present three years ago. Do you remember how we bought it? Oh, those days in London and in England, that we thought would come again. I’ll go sometime, but my chum, who was to have been there too, will not be there. I think of the day we spent at St. Albans, at Hampton, our visit to the Tower and down to Greenwich, Covent Garden Market, the Abbey, all those places dear. And we dreamed that we’d go again and we’d be such perfect companions. We just got used to each other - for this? I was so selfish then dear, but you always forgave me. I think of how we rode uphill, how you pulled me up; of the time we rested by the roadside when the poor old man came along begging, because he could not work and was too young for his pension, of our dinner at the “Duke’s Head” at Sellinger, our ride to that old Roman Castle near there, and ride, on Sunday night, to Wye. Yes, yes, I have beautiful memories, more than most people have. But oh darling, that just now seems only to intensify my longing for you. Goodnight sweetheart. Do you watch over me I wonder.




Nov. 29 [1917]

Sweetheart Mine,-

I have been reading some of your letters. In one, written Oct 17, [1917] which you thought was my birthday, you said how next year you hoped you’d take me in your arms. And now they tell me that you died of shell concussion, that there was no mark of injury on you. And you will never kiss me again, never come in at night and kiss me and contentedly sit down to your dinner; never talk to me again. I’ll never sit on your lap again before our grate fire, and we’ll never dream dreams of our future together again. Sweetheart, sweetheart my darling. I’ll always have to look on and see other wives with their husbands. But nothing can take away your love for me or mine for you. I have had something that many, many people never have in their lives, and to be worthy of you dear, I must stop thinking about myself.

I did not write last night, we talked till late after I came in, an then when I came to bed I read a lot of letters that had come while I was away. Mr. Coutts and Mr. And Mrs. Fallis met me at the train and it felt very comforting to be taken care of so well. The very air of welcome radiated around me. What a legacy of friends you have left me sweetheart. Mr Fitch got on the train at Barrons and I had dinner with him and we talked about you nearly all the way up. I was so glad to talk to him, because he loved you dear. He said you taught him his law and that when he took your advice he never went wrong. That he never wanted to practise it in a way better than you had taught him. He said you were able to connect your real religion with your work more than any other man he knew.

It is a great relief to me to write like this to you. It keeps me close to you. To get away from you, to forget you was what I dreaded, but I need not fear, need I my own sweetheart?

Your kiddie




Nov. 30/17

Dear dear One:-

To-day has been a real November day, about the first one we’ve had. I did not get up until late, yet did not get much comfort out of my sleep, for my leg ached before I went to bed and after I woke up.

This afternoon Berta [Alberta Coutts] and David [Coutts] went with me over to the apartment. Ah dear, I had thought to keep it on until you came back, so that there would be a home there waiting for you. And you will never need it again. I dream dearest, of you coming in and rushing out to find me, you always did come to find me and kiss me the first thing when you came in the house. I never really knew how you love me until you went away from me. I am not big enough yet to live in the spirit world. It just struck me now. If George should go, would Berta know about him what I do about you? You are safe at any rate, my beloved, and I am happy to know that.

Goodnight my own.




Dec. 1 [1917]

Dear Friend and Guide

I saw that in “The Worn Doorstep”1 - It is a quotation from Dante - Love never changes does it dear, for you are to me what Beatrice was to him. I was thinking, as it seems I always am, about how kind you were to me, how you even helped me pick out hats, which you must have hated doing. I got that little pink hat out of the box yesterday, the one you got me at Eaton’s. It will soon be two years since you came east and we went down to St. John’s together. I think you left here on the first of December. How anxious I was for you to come. And I think of how Ora must have longed for Art especially when she saw us together. May she never know the agony that comes with the knowledge that her longing will never be realized.

How close you seem to me dear one, in spite of my intellectual knowledge that your are dead. I say “intellectual” because I know that you are dead, but you are not to me. The thing I could not bear would be to lose you, and I have not lost you. Sometimes a stillness and quietness comes over me, as if you were near, and then the almost intolerable longing for your voice calling me by the fond names you called me, for your arms about me and for your lips on mine, seizes me, and I wish I could only die and come to you at once. The years stretch out so long and grey, years to be lived physically alone, without your voice or your dear familiar presence, and I wonder how ever I can live through them. But it’s only a day at a time we live sweetheart, is it not? And I must never forget that in a way I am your “family” and must live up to the standards you have set.

It came to me with rather a shock tonight that you let me choose about a child. I thought I did right at the time, but oh dearest, if I had only someone who looked like you, who was part of you, to love. I will not allow myself to grieve over this though, for in a way I am not to blame. You know why. And my darling, I was so sure you were coming back, and I wanted any child we should have to be born under happy circumstances.

Oh darling aren’t you coming back? I sometimes think if you had not been so good to me I might not miss you so much as I do.

Berta and George [Coutts] were down to see their aunt, whose boy Jim has been killed. The early end of the war seems more and more hopeless. In one of your letters, written not much over a month ago, you said you thought by Christmas that the enemy would know he was beaten. But you did not know of Italian reverses or of the Russian disaster. I wonder what will happen to the Russian nation!

We can only hope and pray that an end may come soon.

Your wife, for I am that.




Dec. 2/17

Dearest:-

Three weeks ago this morning I took David [Coutts] to church, little knowing that at that same time there was a telegram waiting for me, to tell me what has taken the joy, and I might almost say, the purpose out of life. Berta went with me to church this morning, but I did not go tonight. I was tired, but oh dearie, dearie I want you to go to church with me Sunday night. Maybe you will say that you were there and expected me to come. I watched George and David tonight playing, and dearest, he looked at him the way you sometimes looked at me. Oh, I don’t want to go on with the dreary life without you. I know I have many friends and have many things that other women would be glad to have, but nothing seems much without you. I want you always - when I read something I appreciate I want to show it to you. I want to talk to you, and oh, I want you to love me. I dread going back into business; before I always felt that anyway, you were there, my protector.

I was reading a poem of Jean Blewett’s - The Usurer - about Fate giving what one asked for, and then taking it away, but being unable to take away memories. My mind is stored with fond, tender and loving memories of you, my sweetheart and my husband.




Dec. 3/17.

Oh Ferd, I did not mean this to be such a lamentable tale, but there is no one else to whom I can pour out my heart. You once said “to whom would you tell your worries if not to me?” And you will never see this, only it comforts me in a comfortless sort of way, in so much as I can make myself think that I am writing a letter to you.

I suppose I ought to get to work and forget myself, but there is such a terrible ache in my heart, I don’t seem to care much what happens. I look at your picture and would pass my hand over your face - but it meets cold glass instead. Don’t laugh dearie, it is funny in a way, I know, but I was thinking as I looked at the bed “ I want to get in and feel Ferd’s arm around me, and instead there’s a hot-water bottle.” I suppose I should be glad there is a hot-water bottle, and for the kindliness that put it there. I am too, but oh dearest, I wanted a life with love and colour, and instead - yes. I have love or friendship and a drab looking future. I know I am more fortunate than many others and that my anguish is multiplied by the millions. But that does not help much. I want you, you, you and our home.

I am here at the Edmansons’. They are very kind to me, you will know. Yet it is like the poor little match girl. Though not exactly, for those inside could have given her of their bounty, but friends, with the best will in the world, can never give me what I crave. It means that always I must watch others and yet you say “You have memories”. Yes, I have memories and I know there are those who have not even them, yet I know I suffer more because I know what I have lost.

Tonight Roy [Edmanson]was reading from Christianity and the social crisis, and we were talking a little about labour conditions, and I know that I am at heart a socialist or something approaching that. Maybe I have work to do, but dearest, you were so much better, so much stronger and wiser that I that I feel I need you. I know I am selfish, I would give up almost anything for a life with you. It has just come to me - if things were as they ought, to me, you would never have needed to go away. But they were wrong, and you spent your life trying to right them: shall I lag behind and not do my share?




Dec. 4/17

It was two years ago that you came or went East. How I had longed for you. Our separation seemed too long, too long, but it made me know how much we loved each other. Will this one show us the same, I wonder

People seem calmly to take it for granted that you are dead Yet I take some of my greatest pleasure out of thinking that you are not and of dreaming of your homecoming. It does not see dear one, oh dear dear one, that or happy times will never come again. It was three weeks yesterday that I got the news that turned my day into darkness.

I know dearest, that I shall never attain happiness until I stop thinking of myself, but I don’t want to stop thinking of you, and you are so intimately connected with me you see, that I can’t keep us separated. I could not sleep last night, but I shall tonight. Goodnight sweetheart.




Dec. 5/17

I have been very busy since I got up at noon. Elizabeth and I went over to the apartment with Mr. Sprung and brought back a great many things which we put upstairs. I feel dear, that Mr. Sprung cared for you and of course that makes me feel very kindly towards him. I was going over to the Macleod’s tonight, but it was pretty cold, and so I stayed inside. I’ll go tomorrow, and to the doctor’s too. I fear I am getting rheumatism.

Tonight came a letter from Mrs. Leslie. She always admired you so dear. She spoke of Mrs. Abel and said that her husband was dead. Poor woman, she must be very lonely. Think of having the Strand Palace Hotel for a home!

The day seems to have not been though. I mean, not much seems to have been accomplished - I must get letters written, and must do some studying.

I wonder dear, if I’ll ever lose the ache in my heart or come to think that life will go on normally without you. I hope I never feel that way. I don’t want you to fade in my memory, oh my beloved.

HOMELAND

Think
Of stepping on a shore and finding it heaven,
Of taking hold of a hand, and finding it God’s Hand,
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial air,
Of feeling invigorated, and finding it Immortality.
Of passing from storm and tempest to unbroken calm,
Of waking up and finding it Home.

In that strange land we blindly christen death.
Somewhere he is, thought where we cannot tell,
But whereso’er God hides him, it is well.

Verse Mrs Leslie sent.





Dec. 6/17

I was over at the apartment this morning, packing up some things, and an overwhelming sense of your presence as it used to be when we lived together came over me. I stood near where we knelt before you went away and where you prayed so earnestly for me, and prayed to be strong enough to live my life to be worthy of you. I sometimes think that your prayers have all been answered, but you never, to my knowledge, prayed that your life might be spared. It seems though, sweetheart, as if we all need you so much. I think of you as being so buoyant and full of life. I am thinking of that line on the opposite page - “Of feeling invigorated and finding it Immortality.” Is that what you are feeling now, most dearly beloved?




Dec. 9/17

Dearest One:-

I am now among the friends you left me. I have not written to you for two days - I have been out at Fritz’s where I did not have a room to myself, and I seem to want to write mostly at night.

Tonight I got out a book of Tennyson’s and I was reading a Toast to England, Sonnet on the [late] Russian Invasion of Poland - & 1852. It is remarkable how applicable some of those verses are to present day thought.

Evelyn has written Verse XXV “In Memoriam A.H.H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII” by Alfred Lord Tennyson in her notebook
		I know that this was Life, -- the track

Whereon with equal feet we fared;
And then, as now, the day prepared
The daily burden for the back.
But this it was that made me move
As light as carrier-birds in air;
I loved the weight I had to bear,
Because it needed help of Love:
Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
When mighty Love would cleave in twain
The lading of a single pain,
And part it, giving half to him.





Dec. 10 [1917]

It is late tonight. Mrs Sprung and I were sitting up, waiting for Mr. Sprung to come home with the election returns, and we filled in the time by knitting. It is strange how evenly my life goes on. My heart seems frozen over at times: I am glad of creature comforts and pleasant companions, but of the future, I seem to care not a whit. And why should I? It can bring me nothing so good or beautiful as I have had and nothing so cruel either, I think. Oh sweetheart, I cannot face the long, long, days and years ahead of me. My heart grows faint at the thought of living through them without you. Hazel writes that women who can think and sympathize are needed. But I rebel at the thought of living solely for others. I know I am selfish, but oh, I want you and our home. I can’t understand why you, of all men, should be taken, and why I, so well fitted as I thought, for a homemaker must be homeless. For I feel that way at times. Oh darling, why don’t you come to me, even in a dream?




Dec. 11 [1917]

To-day two soldiers came enumerating, and as they were so very cold, I asked them in and Mrs. Sprung made them tea and we tried to find out addresses for them that they were looking for. We were going over to Ruby’s, [Ruby Oaten] but it was too late by the time they left.

Don came in giggling about having helped a man up the hill with a Ford car. He said “It was going - put-put” and then he laughed so hard for two or three minutes till we were all giggling, and then he went on “and the man said ‘It’s going faster than it did yesterday.’”

Well, I’ve had my cry for tonight and in the bathtub - a very appropriate place. Oh darling, darling, darling, tonight when Mr. Sprung kissed his wife, my heart was heavy for I knew there were no more kisses for me. Father says that in time there will come peace into my life, but lover and friend, I want love. I have had it, but I don’t know now. Do you see me and know me and love me now? Why can’t I even dream of you?




Dec. 13 [1917]

I skipped writing yesterday - our day - because I was out until after one at a meeting where Sir Wilfred [sic] Laurier2 spoke. He did not get there until 12.30 or later. How I wished for you when some of the men were speaking. There was no fire, they had no message, they merely picked flaws in the government. I am afraid of the outcome of the Elections though.

To-day I was down at the place were we have had our pictures framed, and Mr. Booth spoke about you and about how sorry he was for me. He voiced what I feel when he said “And you’re so young too. That makes it harder.” And I think in a way it does, for I am young enough to want to have pleasure, and how can I have it without you? Life seems so dull and hopeless. I go along the street and unconsciously start thinking about what kind of a house we’ll have when you come home. Oh dearie, dearie, dearie. --

I got your aunts a copy of Rupert Brooks’[sic] poems - I’ll send it with your love.




Dec. 14 [1917]

Dearest:-

This is another Friday. At times I think nothing dear or sweet can happen again - that is to me, but then I can see it in others. Tonight the Canadian Club were giving each of the men at Ogden a pair of Jaeger slippers. And I thought of yours. I gave them to you for your birthday two years ago. My dear dear sweetheart.




Dec. 15 [1917]

Two years ago we were in St Johns probably just getting there . I remember how you insisted on my going, and how glad I am I went, for the time would have been lonely for you. I know now why you wanted me to go. As I think of that time when you came home, and know now that you will never come again my heart nearly breaks. Oh darling I wish I could die. Living without you is just one ache. I cannot bear the thought of the homeless heart empty years ahead.

I was at Mrs. Brown’s for tea, and was fairly cheerful and talked of you and Donna. But oh Ferd, my arms are empty and I cannot hear you speak.




Dec. 16 [1917]

This is another Sunday, for the most part spent in bed. The day before the Federal Elections and I fear, I fear the result. If only you were here, it seems to me it would help. I go nearly mad sometimes, thinking of you lying there and of those who have come back. They say Bob Pearson is coming home soon. Oh dearest, the bright hopes I had for you are all blasted. And for me? Well, I am a woman alone, and I feel very keenly that such a one does not count for much. Men do not listen to her because she is a woman - and women, because she has no man behind her. Had I not always had such rosy dreams, it might not be so hard, for them the reality might not have been so far different from my dreams as to matter so much.

I was reading Rupert Brooke again to-day. How I wish I had the power of versification for I think I have thought enough. Here are some of the subjects I was thinking out as I lay while the dusk was gathering.

You sent me English flowers - going on to speak of your leaving the sordid life of the camp to stroll down English lanes and talk to me and of that first day in Ireland when you laughed at me so tenderly, because I loved the shiny leaves.

The Wind - Blowing across the plains it used to fill my heart with dread - now it is Earth’s orchestral accompaniment to my sorrow - Pity for those who yet must tread the tearful way that leads to understanding of its tune.

1 You called me flower of your life 
Yet how could a flower grow untended - uncared for and alone.
2 Light of your life you called me
How could a light still beam
3 Friend of your life you called me
How can a heart still throb -

and the variation
The flower lives on to fulfill the purpose of him who loved it
The light burns on and gives its light to others
The friend, lonely is a friend to others.
Killed in Action
A wondrous glow in the westring sky -
A song I heard, a jest I read.
Some noble deed - all things beautiful
I reached my hand to tell you, knowing you’d understand.
One moment standing ah your place of duty.
The next lying still, your form not marred.
Life that moved not, form that stirred not, heart that beat not - the soul of you gone.
The hope that kindly Death will soon meet me and lead me to you -
One night returning you called to me to see the sunset from the hill, but I was tired and would have stayed at home, had you not gently helped me up the way, and thus had you not called to me, I had missed that sight of God.




Dec. 17/17.

Dear One:-

This is Election day, or rather the night of Election day, and the people have said, by a substantial majority, that we are to stay in the war. As Mr. Sprung came home tonight, excited and elated, I thought of you and the prohibition campaign. Your catching enthusiasm and your cheery optimism seemed very real. Oh, Ferd, my own, my own. Is it true that you’ll never, never come back? I did not say goodbye to you forever that day at Cheadle. Oh dear dear dear my darling. If I could only put my arms around your neck and have you kiss me, my sorrow would all flee away. But you only look out at me smilingly from your frame. Ah loved one, are you near? If I could only know you were near, looking on and watching, and if I could know that you are alive and that I shall come to you sometime, I might find this present easier to bear.




Dec. 19/17.

Dearest:-

I am so lonely, so lonely tonight dear one. I had a letter from daddy also one from mother to-day. He says he thinks you and Uncle Webster were there when the British entered Jerusalem. A quaint fancy, is it not? But oh Ferd I am so lonely for you. It is nearing Christmas time, the first one in years that I shall neither see you nor hear from you, the first time in fourteen years. It seems a long time to look ahead fourteen years, and a long long time to look back. I am glad that we knew each other so long.

I have your college picture up beside your other one, and one taken the day you left Cheadle. It is the big one and the soldier picture I love best. Oh darling, I cannot stand it to think you will not come back. Sometimes it seems as if you must.

Last night it seemed as if you were near. I did up the parcel for your people and the book for your aunts, and it seemed as if you were glad. You would have smiled and kissed me really, oh lover lover lover.




Dec. 22 [1917] At “The Coutzens”

Two years ago tonight, sweetheart, we left St. John for Montreal. I wondered why you were so insistent that I should go down there with you, but I know now. You were afraid we might not have longer together and you were lonely for me then too. How long those last two months seemed, that time when I went East.

Tonight Berta and I went down town to see the crowds and poke around the shops. I could have cried and sobbed in the midst of the people, my heart ached with longing for you. I dread the thought of Christmas. In your last letter, I think it was, you said you were looking out for something for me for Christmas. If I could only have you, oh darling darling, I know you are glad to be out of it all, it is so dreadful, but yet I feel just a sort of tag end without you. I looked at myself tonight and I asked “Of what use are you?” in a way I am a prostitute. I cannot be the woman I want to be, or that it seems to me I am fitted to be - a home woman, but I must go out in the world of business. And that takes nearly all my strength - I have little left for living. I was at Mrs Brown’s Thursday night - this is Saturday. She is helpful, but I suppose each thinks her grief is deepest.

To-day I received copies of “The Gateway” and of “Acta”3. They pay you high tribute, and I am glad people realized your worth - and in a way it makes life easier, but oh, it does not heal the ache.

Goodnight my own sweet love.




Dec. 24 [1917]

Dear Heart of Mine:-

I did not write last night, I was too lonely and homesick. Tonight is Christmas Eve and we have been trimming David’s tree. How I dreamed that you and I might be trimming a tree some Christmas. Oh darling, to think that the one you’ve counted on, for years to come, has gone. I thought I understood how people suffered, and I did to a degree, but this I did not know, how constant it was.

I had such a nice card from Fitch to-day. He will spend his Christmas on the sea. How lovely for him, and for Miss Wells. She has no father or mother either, like my dear ones. Are you looking at me now sweetheart? Oh kiss me.




Dec. 25/17.

Dear One -

Christmas of 1917 is nearly over. This is the first Christmas in fourteen years that I have not seen you or heard from you. I think it was the first Christmas we were at Beamsville, yes, it was 14 years ago, when we had a Christmas entertainment, you and Fritz came in and you gave me a big apple with some silly verses. I wondered then, rather mildly, why you did it. Had I been older, I should have known it was because you were interested in me. I never thought it strange either, that you should spend so much time helping us with our lessons. I remember one problem in algebra, I think I could find it in the book that you worked out and sent down to me. All those things you used to be doing for us made me almost worship you as a young girl. And so now you are gone. My greatest fear is that you may go out of my life. People say time dulls pain; does it also dim the memory of one loved?

Ora and Art did a thing you would appreciate. They sent me a beautiful writing case, such a gift as you would have given me. That was very generous of them, was it not? It just made me feel so warm towards them, for I knew what they meant when they sent it.

David enjoyed his tree and the day. I was glad to be here where there was life and movement. The Finlaysons’ with their two babies were here. I visited Fritzs’ and the Oatens.’

Sometimes it nearly breaks my heart to be an “odd woman”, I who was so proud of being your wife and mistress of our home. I know now how others feel. There were two of us tonight.

How we had hoped that next year we might spend together. I wonder if we shall? My lover. Oh Ferd, Ferd.




Dec. 26/17.

Ruby [Oaten] took Berta and me to a concert tonight, a violinist. She played a nocturne which made me ache for you. It will soon be a year since you went away, since you kissed me and held me in your arms. I wonder if I’ll ever forget what it feels like to be kissed as you kissed me. That is what I am afraid of. I look up at your picture and you smile calmly at me. I like to remember that you said when you had it taken, you fancied yourself looking at me. Goodnight dear, dear one.




Dec. 27/17.

This has been such a cold blizzardy day. Were you in France, I should be worried about you, but someway my mind feels blank about the war as if I no longer had any interest in it. For myself, I have nothing to lose, having lost you, but I should not forget those very near to me who indeed have a very great deal to lose.

Next week I will be back at the office. How I dread it. It seems so harsh and uncongenial, and purposeless. Oh Ferd, I feel so helpless and so hopeless. You know what I have so often said about hope, but now it is gone. And it is hard for one suddenly to look across the gap, such a gap and see the end. This life is all we know. Oh, I wish my heart would break. I know I’m selfish and cowardly and everything else that’s weak, but I want you - Oh God - the loneliness of it. You knew darling, what I dreaded most of all.




Dec. 29 [1917]

Another gap in our day. After I came to bed I was reading our class prophecy - I found some Actas downstairs in an old suitcase of yours. Also some old pictures of you, yesterday, and I was interested in looking through them.

Last night there was a letter from your mother. I suppose I have overlooked her grief to a great extent, thinking only of my own. But she loved you darling, and was so proud of you,

To-day there was a birthday party. David was five. I wish you could have seen them at their supper. We had such fun watching them, especially Albert Millican who ate and drank as if it were a regular business. George [Coutts] poured out cocoa and milk together and they thought it was great sport, and drank their cocoa as fast as they could in order to see him pour more. Charlotte looked simply beautiful, really dear. She was lovely. How you would have loved a child’s party. Oh dearie, there are so many things in life you have missed. I lie and pretend you are coming back, or live over again days and nights that are gone. How I love you my own sweetheart. You like to hear me say that, don’t you dear one? I am so glad I have said it often.




Dec. 31/17

Dear sweetheart of Mine:

Another year nearly gone, a year that will never fade from my memory, for it took you away from me, oh my beloved. I feel that life can offer me nothing more bitter than this year has brought.

Yesterday I had a letter from Hazel, and she too has her sorrow. So many others have dear. My heart aches for her.

To-day there was a letter from Miss leBarre, a girl I met on the train when going East last summer. Do you remember my speaking of her? I told you about her - she had been on a trip to the Orient - Ah darling, I am glad there is a heaven for all the heart aching ones there are. Miss Addison is right in saying that nothing else so opens the gate of sympathy to sorrowing ones. I shall be oh, so lonely without you my sweetheart, this coming year, and all the years to come, but my life must not be spoiled because of that. Mr. Fallis preached last night from the text in Jeremiah about the potter spoiling the first vessel, but remaking it into a perfect one.

My life can never be as I had planned, hoped or dreamed that it should be, but it can be useful and beautiful and inspiring, with God’s help and the though of my beautiful one. Ah darling come near to me and help me




Jan 2/18

My sweet sweetheart:-

Again I have moved. This time I am at Mr. Macleod’s. How kindly and friendly people are. I am being taught what it means.

Yesterday began another year. Last year we were at the Coutts for dinner you and I - oh lover, lover of mine I think if I could only know you were somewhere, even if I couldn’t live with you, it would be easier. Someone to care supremely is what every heart craves. One weeps because she has lost such a one, the other because she believes she will never have such a one.

At least I have a place where I belong. Dearest and best, you made it for me. But oh darling, it is going on without you that is so hard to bear. Father said he depended on you so; I never thought of that before. You see you meant so much to us all.

Do you know, I can’t feel but that you will be back sometime. It is not two months since I have been told differently.




Jan. 3/18

Dearest:-

There was one of your letters in my drawers at the office which I was reading to-day. It makes you seem very much alive to read your letters, and yet very far away, for I keep telling myself that you are dead.

I was out at the Oatens’ for dinner. I fancied a few minutes ago that you were telling me to go there oftener. It seemed a very happy family, with Helen there. I watched her be bathed and put to bed. Oh darling, it doesn’t seem right to be at such places without you. It just seems as if you must, you must, you must come back. Oh lover will you?




Jan. 5/18

Dear One:-

It seems as if I live two lives. One an everyday life that everyone sees, and one that is nothing but an ache. When I think of you as gone, life seems very futile indeed. People say you are a force yet, but just now I don’t want a “force.” I want you, to put your arms around me, to lie beside me and to hold me in your arms. It makes no difference how much others suffer, nor how lonely they are. It does not make me one whit happier.




Jan. 6/18

This is the first Sunday of the New Year. I went to church this morning with Mr. & Mrs. Macleod. The preacher spoke from the prophecy in Isaiah and in Matthew “I am sent to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, etc.” - There is to be beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness in place of sadness, recovery of sight to the blind, deliverance to the captives, healing for broken hearts and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. And the one way this is to be done is through people. He said “If you cannot expect happiness for yourself, try to give it to someone else.” And there are those to whom I can give it - in a very simple way too. I think of Irene, of Auntie Case - getting old alone. Of Hazel and of others who have told their troubles to me. But oh sweetheart, it is hard to view the new year without you, my comrade, my true helpmeet - and my own sweetheart.




Jan. 8 [1918]

I’ve been reading the Honourable Peter Stirling4 and it just shows me what I have lost.




Jan. 9 [1918]

I do not seem to find much to say, only this, that I’m longing for you all the time. And I imagine you are coming back. Oh my darling, words cannot express the agony of the ache in my heart.




Jan. 10 [1918]

Dear

I wonder if my writing does much good. In a way, it makes you seem near, but not at the time I want you most. That is when the lights are out and others are asleep. Oh lover, I cry to you and I rebel at my lot. I cannot see the rainbow through the rain and I tell God that it is too much to ask of me. I know I should not think so much of myself, but it seems hard to help it. Oh Ferd, if I could only express the agony of longing that is mine, it might ease my heart, But I can’t put it into words, only tears and sobs.




Jan. 12/18

This is our wedding day again, and I have moved to Braemar Lodge. I wonder what you think of it. Oh sometimes dear, I am so bitterly lonely, and the future looks so dreary, that I grow bitter. I see women, whose husbands are away, leading a gay and apparently careless existence, and I wonder why it had to be my husband, who was dearly loved, who had to go.

I can’t understand how it was that I used to hear a voice say that everything was all right, after I had prayed, and my heart used to grow light. Now it lies like lead and I feel no voice. And you are gone - oh - I know it. My lover, why couldn’t I go with you?




Jan. 15/8 [1918]

Dearest:-

I’m not going to write tonight, but instead shall read your letters. I do not cry any more at night, I wonder why, not for three nights now. But I am just dazed and wretched. Do you know, sweetheart, I find myself still planning about your return? I suppose it is wrong and foolish, but I can’t think you are gone




Jan. 16/18

Dearest:-

I have two little worries tonight. I wish I could tell them to you and have you laugh at me for my pains. I have been working very hard at the office this week. To-day I looked out of the window and saw a soldier coming across the place where the implements are. Suddenly the word “Driftwood” came into my head, and it seemed as if that were I - left where the biggest wave cast me up. Oh dearest my life seems so purposeless without you. I know I ought to care about other people, but I don’t. I am too lonely and my heart aches too much to be able to be interested in anything. People write and talk about heaven and this life is only a few short years. I know not how many years there will be, but every year has 365 days and every day 24 hours and every hour 60 minutes and every minute 60 seconds. And I’m not living in heaven; I hope and believe you are, but you are there and I am here.

I went to the apartment tonight and tidied it up. I was hoping to keep a home for you to come back to. I can’t believe you won’t come. Some say your are so much happier where you are. That may be, but we are not all immortals.




Jan. 18/18

Dearest -

What a pang it gives me in my work at the office to come across letters bearing your signature. And how I wish I had you to ask questions of. Miss Playter was over to study tonight. We did not do much studying but we shall, and she did me a lot of good, she is bright. Life seems to have something in it for her. It would for me too if I had not already had the best life has to offer. Oh my darling - The Shouldices are coming home tomorrow. I can’t help feeling that things are unfair. She has done nothing for two years, yet she comes home with her husband - And my husband is gone - And she can’t love him as I love you. They did not grow up together or for each other as we did.




Jan. 21 [1918]

Sunday was spent at the Edmonsons. It is pleasant for me to have such congenial friends. It was Fritzs wedding day.

To-day I got back a letter written to you on the 23rd & 24th of October. In the one written the 23rd I said “It seems as if I turned my head suddenly I might see you.” You were then in the trenches and must have been thinking of your girl at home. Oh Ferd, it’s a long long trail I’m taking, till I’ll be again with you.

Mr. And Mrs Shouldice came home and I saw him to-day. He told me about seeing you in London, I can’t help feeling jealous. And Ferd, I’m afraid I’m getting gossipy. How I need you to help me to be good and wholesome and big!




Jan. 22 [1918]

I prayed hard this morning not to be gossipy, and I got along better to day. Tonight I was talking to Mrs. Langford at dinner. Looking at the woman with her fine poise, one would think her happy but she is sad and lonely, and unsettled too.




Jan. 23 [1918]

I have started getting my letters back. How I wish you could have had them for they were loving letters. I’ve re-read your letters of July 16, 17 & 18. Oh sweetheart - you talk about the honeymoons we’ll have over again and again - Miss Bradley said the other night at Mrs. Brown’s “Won’t you just want to travel and travel?” but I didn’t answer for if I had, I should have said “My desire is largely gone; for my travelling companion will never go with me again.”




Jan. 25 [1918]

I am going to bed without studying a bit. I am so tired and so blue I don’t know what to do. How I hate the nights of studying. And while last year, I thought it would not be for long, now I know, that for me, the lonely evenings are forever. I know I might write to people, but I am too tired. I want you and you only.




Jan. 26 [1918]

Three months ago to-day sometime you were alive. It seems hard to realize that there ever was such a happy time. Last night I was pretending you were coming again and I was quite happy. I am going up to Ruby’s tonight.




Jan 28/18

Dearest One:-

Some way or other, I feel you are coming back, and I think how proud you’ll be of me. Ah, my own lover how I adore you.

Tonight I was getting out some pyjamas of yours to send to Art and I saw your blue silk ones that you got when we were married. I’ll never give them away. It seems as if I see you coming to me now. Oh dear dear Ferd, I love you so.




Jan. 30/18

Nearly one month of 1918 gone, and it has seemed a long month. I was re-reading tonight Moffatt’s5 article about you. He said you “kept but one rendezvous with death.” Ah, it seems to me that we at home keep a continual one.

Tonight I was doing up your things to send to Art, pyjamas, handkerchiefs and socks. It seems so long, so long since I saw you, oh my darling it will soon be a year. A year ago we were buying new furniture. Oh Ferd it just seems that you can’t be gone from me.

Some people say that the next world is so much better than this. Then I can’t see why this world was made. Oh, sometimes I just hate living. I want you and a home, oh my chum I want you.




Jan. 31 [1918]

We were over at the Palliser6 for tea today, Mrs. Shouldice, Mrs. Scott, our Miss Scott and I. Miss Scott is very quietly sympathetic; in a way at present she helps me more than Miss Cummer does.

I have done a lot tonight because I didn’t go down to dinner here, but got home early. I wrote to Elleda, read two Globes and over thirty pages in a text book. I am glad I have some purpose, even if it isn’t a very lofty one. Life seems so flat and insipid.




Feb. 3/18

Oh Ferd, I can’t even write out my passionate longing. I cry until it seems I can’t stand it any longer, and then somehow I go to sleep. Oh Ferd, I want you to kiss me and put your arms around me. I am so lonely I just don’t want to bear it. I love life and colour and fun, but I can’t have it without you. Oh Ferd, it is too hard. If you hadn’t loved me so much or if I hadn’t loved you the way I do, it might be different. Oh God, to think of you being out of my life, it’s too much.

The Clarke’s had the office people up this afternoon in honour of the Shouldice’s. It was enjoyable while I was there, and afterwards I went with Miss Cummer to the Edmanson’s for tea and then to church. It is killing to think of being alone always. You were so full of life too, I am like a dead leaf on a tree without you.




Feb. 7 [1918]

I haven’t written for several nights. I have been busy or tired. I don’t feel like writing now. It seems I think about you all the time, dear, dear one, and sometimes I think about you so much that I can’t realize you are gone from me forever. I can’t say anything except that I love you and want you with an infinite longing. My own darling, how I love you.




Friday Feb 8/18

This is our day again, most dearly beloved. When I came in a few minutes ago, as I opened the door, I smelt roses, and I found on coming in that Mrs. Raney had left them her for me. Two times one make two. To-day I had a book from Mae, full of beautiful and helpful verses.

It came to me to-day, that maybe I had been thinking too much about myself as part of you. Probably I should consider myself as a unit and as such I was thinking of what you had done for me. It is easier to state it in a concrete, visible way. You have given me a position, friends, a beginning in a career, even money, that I could not have had without you. But I think in another way of what you have brought me. First, the knowledge of love so deep, so sweet and pure that fancy could never bring to me. It gives me, not pride, but confidence to know that you loved me as you did. You taught me sympathy for those in trouble, and you tried to teach me friendliness. Courage and self-sacrifice - I have not learned them yet, but if I follow you, I suppose I may eventually. All this I have lost, and yet in a way I have gained it too. It is not that I count my loss less, but that I would make the best of what I have that I speak like this.

Last night I heard the very tones of your voice and saw the love in your eyes as you said that last day on the train ”My brave kiddie.” Ferd, I never knew I could love anyone as I do you this minute, and every minute.

Sometimes it makes me feel bitter to see others taking your place in the office, but why should it? That is only a minor thing, and anyway, you were willing to give it up, along with things that mattered more, for the sake of what you held to be right. All my life, since I have thought about such things, I have wanted to love and marry a man who counted right first. I did so and I thank God for your life.

There was a little verse in the book Mae sent that made me think of you where you are, looking out the best places, and showing them to me when I came, just as you showed me the spots you loved in England. You have for so long gone before and found the way for me.

		My lost, my own, and I
Shall have so much to see together by and by.

God never made
Spirit for spirit, answering shade for shade,
And placed them side by side
So wrought in one, though separate, mystified
And meant to break
The quivering threads between





Feb. 10/18

It will soon be three months since I learned the dreadful news. Oh Ferd, my darling I cannot think I’ll never have you kiss again or feel your dear arms around me or hear your voice. Oh my sweetheart, I try to live as you want me to, but if I could only have you here.




Feb. 12/18

Dearest My Own,

It is now three months since I knew that you were gone. This is our day again. Elizabeth E. was here for dinner and Roy came in afterwards and told about the church meeting. The finances are in the best shape they have been for years. It seems to me, people learned last year how to give. Oh Ferd, if you were only here, to make things seem worthwhile. My own, own darling. Everything else seems to leave me except my knowledge of my love for you my own.




Feb. 14 [1918]

Oh my lover, this is St. Valentine’s, and oh, I am so lonely, so lonely, Ferd, there doesn’t seem to be much joy in life. There are so many little things too, that trouble and annoy, where if I only had you to kiss me, they would all fly away. Oh Ferd, almost every thing I do or read or see or hear makes me just ache for you.




Feb. 16 [1918]

Dearest One:-

This is Saturday night. This afternoon I went to a Valentine tea and then came home and slept. After dinner Ruby came over. As I fell asleep I pretended what we’d do when you came home, and it seemed to very real, that I cannot at times but think that it will really happen. Oh how I love you, and how I wish I had known when we were together what I know now. You always knew I loved you, but I love you so much more now than I did when we were first married, that I know. I could make you happier than ever - shall I ever have the chance?




Feb. 17/18

I’ve just been reading one of your dearest sweetest letters from Bramshott telling me about the lark’s7 nest. You were so glad in that letter because I was having a good time, and it makes me feel that I ought not to be sad because you are not here. You never complained because you had to go, so why should I because I have to stay? Oh my beloved, I adore you.




Feb. 21/18

My own, own Darling:-

Someway or other you seem very near me sweetheart, just as if you were away at your work and had left me to go on with mine. The days do not pass too unhappily, but oh the nights darling when I realize that it is not just for a little while that you are gone. Oh dearest dearest, you wrote that our love was our life and oh it was and is. I don’t look very far ahead dear one because the future does not hold you. Oh, I cannot realize that I’ll never have you again. How can I tell you what you are to me, always present with me as you are.




Feb. 23/18

Yesterday was Friday, our day. Tonight I was looking over our old account book. The last item you entered was “Lard - 1.25.” It will soon be a year since you left me, with what high hopes of coming back soon. My heart is too numb for tears dear. I would come to you if I could.




Feb. 24/18

To-day we had our anniversary services. A year ago was your last Sunday at home when you spoke and they gave your ring. I spent to-day at the Peter’s. I wanted to write more to you, but instead I got your letters ready to send to your father and mother. I have been careless in not doing it sooner.




Feb. 25 [1918]

Oh Fred my lover it seems as if I cannot bear it. There was a baby crying a few minutes ago for her mother. Oh God I can cry and cry for my husband, my chum but he will never come again.




Feb. 28/18

Oh Ferd, I have had such a nasty blue grouchy day. It doesn’t seem worth while living, and oh, I am so lonely. I try to work but thoughts keep intruding and I just hate everything. It seems as if I don’t care much for people and they don’t care for me. And there is nothing to look forward to in the future. Oh Ferd, I hate life. You said often that our love was our life, and I can’t keep up to the standard of feeling you near me. And I don’t care about helping people and I look too much on the unfair side of life. Oh Ferd, I want you and I hate everything else. It can’t be that you are gone. I want to scream but I never do. I can’t be philosophical and I hate anybody who talks it to me. I just wish I could get out. I know it isn’t brave, but I don’t care. It is all wrong and cruel and should never have been. They say it was four months ago yesterday that you were killed. And on Friday it will be a year since you went away. Oh Ferd, I used to pray to God to take me too if you had to go, but He didn’t. I can’t say it is well, for it isn’t. Oh God.




Mar. 1 [1918]

Oh Ferd

A year ago tonight you were here, Oh I can’t live without you.




Mar. 3 [1918]

I was dreading yesterday, anniversary of the day you went away, but it is over. Mrs. Brown asked me down for lunch - and I had cherry pie. You remember, I made it for you that day. We talked about Donna, and you, and the other life. I was just thinking to-day, I wonder if you have seen Donna and played with her.

Fred, I feel sick, positively physically nauseated when I think that you are gone. It is brutal, this war, wicked anything evil that I can say or think. I always thought war was such, and now I know it is. Mrs. Bell was in last night, and poor woman - she was trying to cheer me up. What she said was funny - isn’t it strange how one can see the humourous things in the saddest times? She said “Well, you must cheer up and - and” here she paused to think of something comforting, which came out with a gulp “have a good time.”

I have been reading Sir Oliver Lodge’s “Raymond.”8 I thought when I read of the different stages that if it were true you must have gone on to a higher plane and that was why you didn’t come to me except by the power of my own imagination and belief in another life. If the book is true, you could see Raymond and send a message through him and his father to me. If it is true you could. It is the only means of communication that makes the thing look “queer.” We believe in an after life, but sometimes not very hard until we must or lose our grasp on everything good. I was reminded in reading the book of the parable of Lazarus & the Rich man - where Abraham said to the rich man in Hades - “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe one though he rise from the dead.” Some things Raymond said were what I had been thinking - How you would show me things with such joy, just as you showed me England. Oh England, England where we loved and played, and hope to be together again. I had rather a bad time to-day, the future looked so long and lonely and loveless.

There follows, on several pages, an extract from “The Christian Idea of God” chap. XVII “Raymond.”

The extract begins with the passage:

“No matter how complex and transcendentally vast the Reality must be, the Christian concetion of God is humanely simple. It appeals to the unlettered and the ignorant: it appeals to “babes.”

The extract ends with the passage:

“To sum up: Let us not be discouraged by simplicity. Real things are simple. Human conceptions are not altogether misleading. Our view of the Universe is a partial one, but is not an untrue one Our knowledge of the conditions of existence is not altogethr false - only inadwquate. The Christian idea of God is a gunuine representation of reality.”





Mar. 6 [1918]

Some nights I do not write because I just have to cry. Elmer and Lora [Wright] arrived yesterday morning and they spent last night in here, and a large part of the day as I have been in bed. He brought your trunk which stands outside my door. I cannot bear to open it. Oh my beloved, it seems as if it is not, is not true that you are gone. You are so near and dear, but my heart is so heavy.




Mar. 7[1918]

There is no letter for to-day, but I’ll read your first one, dated Mar. 2. [1917] What a loving inspiring letter. My sweetheart. Do you know now where you are how much I love you?




Mar. 9 [1918]

Dearest My Own:-

I went to a luncheon to-day to hear Dr. Helen MacMurchy9 speak, and I felt uplifted. I have wanted to be happy, and I can be that only by having you here; and I have wanted to be useful too, but only with you. I feel though dear, that if I keep on with what now appears to be duty, that a way of service will open up before me. But my heart cries out against it all and longs for you. You would rather have had love than service but you chose the hard way. I am overwhelmed with my love for you my darling. I want you to know, wherever you are, that you are as ever my inspiring and enheartening spirit.

To-day as I was sitting in the office an engine that they were trying out down below gave an awful noise, and I jumped. Then I thought of you at the front and began to realize what a shock to the nerves the terrible noise must have been. I could not but thank God for taking you out of it, but oh, my darling, I had hoped for another way out.

To-day I was studying for Mr Robertson and I worked a thing out in a logical manner it seemed to me, though I do not know how it will appeal to him. But it seemed to me as if you helped me. Did you?

I see men on the streets, with their coat collars turned up, and I think they might be you. Your bright cheery face is so often before me, and you often say, as you used to, before the war “What are you laughing at?” or as you used to when I crawled up between you and your newspaper? “What do you want?” And I always got it. I did not know we loved each other so well; I guess I took a lot of it for granted, but not every married couple has what we had, such perfect trust, respect and love.




Mar. 11/17[sic] [1918]

Most Dearly Beloved -

I was reading your diary yesterday. I had hoped it would [be] intimate and meant for me. I have come to see how much we were unrevealed to each other, and how we judged each other to be what we thought, rather than knew, the other was. I had hoped, after the letters we had written each other, that when you came home we might really know each other.

It made me heartsick darling, to think of you coming to the point where you were interested in whether you did or did not have jam. But I think I see now why you wrote what you did; you were thinking of after the war and the use you could make of your first hand information.

To-day I received a notification that you10 were killed, but it said “no record of burial, please.” I do not understand what that means. Oh Ferd, it seems too cruel and brutal that you are gone that way. You were not meant for that, nor thousands of others. I wonder that we keep sane when we think of the waste and the horror of it all. The only thing that keeps us sane is the great Reason for it all.




Mar. 13 17[sic] [1918]

Yesterday was the twelfth, the day that brought the greatest gladness, and because of that, the greatest sadness into my life. Oh dearest, it seems so dry and unlovely, life does. And I don’t care for anything. Oh Fred, I want you. It seems as if I am forgetting what it means to be loved.




Mar. 17/18

Oh Ferd I want you so tonight. There is no future, nothing to which one can look ahead with any sense of happiness except dying. I know nights are the worst times, especially Sunday nights. I want you to put your arms around me. Oh Ferd, I had so planned on your coming back, and now I have to face life without my chum and friend. I know I should think of helping others, but oh, how I crave a little bit of you. Because when I had you, nobody else mattered very much.




Mar. 20/18

I don’t have so much time to write now, I am studying and consequently so tired. It will be your birthday in a day or two, my darling one.




Mar. 24 [1918]

Yesterday was your birthday I did not forget it, but I was very busy and tired. To-day we went for a walk up on the North Hill -

The war news is bad - and everything to me is gray.




Mar. 28 [1918]

Tomorrow is Good Friday, and will be the second one I’ve spent alone. But last year I looked forward to this, hoping against hope that you would be here.

It is beautiful spring weather, the sunlight is warm and bright, but my heart feels dead. Even in the midst of work, my heart almost breaks. To-day, in the library, I heard Roy talking to his wife over the telephone, and how it made my heart ache to have you call me.




Mar. 29 [1918]

Today is Good Friday, or was, for it is past - an exquisite day. I just can’t go to sleep without a little talk with you. I was thinking to-day how little I really believed that Christ really died and rose again or in fact, that He ever lived. I must be very non-spiritual and materialistic, but it is hard to believe what I can’t see yet I am conscious of your love, although I can’t see you. But oh, how I want you, sweetheart. With such a day as to-day, were you here and were there no war, we could have gone horseback riding. As it was, I studied. Oh Ferd, it is all so cruel and hard. I cannot think that the end of the war will not bring you to me.

There was an appeal for missionaries in a little pamphlet I read to-day. Why should I not offer myself? But I have not the slightest intention. My heart seems hard. Oh Ferd, I am so lonely and I do so need your encouragement. Nobody believes in me the way you did, and if they did it wouldn’t count so much. And they don’t know how much I crave a word now and then. Oh, my sweetheart,t my lover, my chum.




Mar. 31 [1918]

This is Easter Sunday, but it has not been much like either Sunday or Easter. I have not been able to be out, and I wanted to go for I need the Easter message. I thought when I saw the topics for the sermons of what you said, was it two years ago, on Easter Sunday. That people wanted a simple message not philosophy, at such times.




April 2 [1918]

Darling, darling mine:-

In a month I am going back to our apartment. Oh my darling, how I had dreamed and hoped that you would be coming back to a home I had kept there for you. I couldn’t study tonight for thinking about going back. I was so lonely when I came in. It is lonely without Lora and Elmer, and there I was disappointed by seeing material I had left at the dressmaker’s two months ago, with a curt note that she could not make my dress. I felt like crying, but I didn’t.

I feel dear, that you are saying about the future, that it is better for me to go over there. I get thinking hopefully and then my heart goes down with a thump when I realize that at the other end there is no you. My own best loved one. When I am bad you make me ashamed of myself. You are so dear and so near, but oh, for your real presence. Oh Ferd, I can’t believe you are gone from me.




April 3 [1918]

Dearest:-

I have known for so long a time that I needed you, but oh sweet, sweetheart, I wish I could live with you. I am tired of the gossipey world I live in, and of which I am rapidly becoming a part. I long for some cool fresh breezes through my brain. I need too, church and its services, and many more of God and less of man. It is hard to keep one’s thoughts and mind big and sweet. I hope there is something around the corner of more importance than law for me.




April 4 [1918]

Darling

This has been a beautiful spring day. Had you been here we might have gone golfing “after four.” As it is, I have been working, but I did take the time to go for a short walk. I got a new dress to-day. Sometimes I wonder if you don’t think me extravagant, when I know how you denied yourself. I feel that maybe I am at times, yet I know you wouldn’t think so really.

The eyes in your picture seem to follow me around. I am glad of that. But oh Ferd, won’t you ever ever be here again?

You were right about Quebec. There have been riots in Quebec city - not very bad ones it is true, yet riots. And as usual, some innocent people were killed. I wonder about Ireland. We hear so little, it seems portentous of evil

Good-night, most dearly beloved. A year ago yesterday, I think it was, you landed in England. It was so long before I had a letter. But you sent a cable, didn’t you? How thoughtful you always were. That is what makes you so dear.




April 7 [1918]

Dearest:-

I dreamed about you the other night, but it wasn’t a particularly happy dream. It seemed as if I were going to the war after you, and I saw you, only you didn’t look like you.

Mrs. Wilson’s husband is home again. Ah, my own lover, if I could have you in my arms again, you would scarcely say “You do love me don’t you?” Yet that was said only because of your conviction that I did. Dearest, I need you, but as it is, I cannot deny the power of your inspiration.

It has been puzzling me to co-ordinate my work with life and an upward impulse. But I am beginning to see my way. Next year I intend to put my force into Sunday school work. The man who was speaking tonight, quoted John Oxenham’s11 poem

	To every soul there openeth
A way and a way and away
And the high soul takes the high way
And the low soul takes the low
And in and out on the misty plains
The rest drift to and fro.
To every man there openeth
A high way and a low
And every man decideth
The way his soul shall go
Of course, I though of you, fearlessly taking the high way, my guide and friend.




April 13 [1918]

It’s almost a week since I wrote to you, but I have been too busy studying. I often think about last year. Then I took the time to write, because it mattered to you, but now it is only for my own sake I write and so it does not matter.

I had a letter from Art. He is at Bruay.12 Funny, I didn’t realize he was telling me at first where he was. He want Ora and me to go to France. I wonder if I am not really afraid.

There is something wrong with Wray. He’s sick and has lost his hold on life.

Hazel means so much to me. She is a good friend indeed.

But Ferd, I put myself to sleep, pretending you will come back and we shall go on with our life. I can’t help but be glad you are not at the front now. Things are terrible. I just can’t visualize them. And I’m afraid you were right about Ireland, and that there will be trouble there.

Goodnight. I’ll lose an hour’s sleep tonight, for daylight saving begins in the night.




April 17 [1918]

Dearest:-

I am studying again tonight. The little picture taken at the station stands beside me, and in it you look so cheery. Oh Ferd, that day, I didn’t think you were going never to come back. The only thing I can be glad about now, is that you are not there now, in this awful fighting. And I wonder now, if the Germans have got the ground where you are. Oh Ferd, why should there be war?




April 29 [1918]

My Darling:-

I have been working nights and anyway, it doesn’t matter whether I write or not. It isn’t as if you’d be disappointed if you didn’t get a letter. Well, I have three more exams, and I have been sick and miserable. Oh Ferd it’s lonely work.




May 5 [1918]

Dearest Sweetheart:-

I did something for you tonight. I spoke to a returning soldier. It was very hard for me to do, but I could not bear to see him going out with nobody speaking to him, and so I did. I did it for you, oh my darling.




May 13 [1918]

My Dearest Sweetheart:-

I have been reading your letter written a year ago to-day. Oh my own I wonder how one can go on forever with such an aching sense of loneliness as there is in my heart for you.




May 17 [1918]

Dearest:-

I have so much need of you. This is Sunday, and I haven’t been at church at all. I was tired this morning and tonight I was at the Robertson’s for dinner. Oh sweetheart, I need somebody to keep me up to the mark. Darling, darling I just can’t face the future without you. If I only thought you could read some of my letters. I am so lonely for you who cared supremely about me. The eyes in your picture seem to follow me and sometimes they look at me sadly and sometimes they smile. Ferd, I pray even to dream of you, and yet I don’t, I wonder why.




Oct. 23/18

Oh Ferd they lie when they say that time works wonders. It only makes my heart ache worse. There is no joy nor peace under the sun. You said that our love was our life. And it was. Yet I have to go on living without you.

A year ago you were on your way to Passchendaele. Oh God it is cruel.




Nov. 11, 1918

I was reading the last letter I wrote to you. A year ago tonight. In the morning I knew there was no use of writing.

It was hard, but not so hard, to wait till the war was over. But now it’s over and you’ll never come again. Oh Ferd, I try to be glad with the others but the future is so empty. The only thing to do is to keep busy trying to be helpful to others. But oh my husband, I miss your understanding and your love. Nobody else ever understood the way you did. Oh Ferd, why can’t you come home with the rest?

They had a noisy demonstration of peace this afternoon. It seemed cheap and tawdry to me. I idly wondered how many who tooted horns and rode around in cars and made a noise knew what either peace or war meant. Yet one I saw, Jack Eaton’s mother. Ferd you were so much to me, that my heart is empty. If I could only be big enough to take the world in. But you know, one needs someone to believe in one.

Do you remember the night war was declared? I always think of the two women we saw weeping in a dark corner when I think of that night.

I think of what it means to the men in the trenches when they get the news that they can sleep peacefully at last. This is what it says to me

		Tonight I shall not dream
Of things far worse than hell
Tomorrow I shall not wake
To the sound of the bursting shell.
But tonight I’ll sleep and dream
Of home and life and love
And tomorrow I shall wake
And love God’s blue above.
And I think of the people who will be going home.




Dec. 16/18

Celia is in the hospital and I am alone. I have been thinking and thinking of you, my own. It is nearing Christmas again. How I dreamed that once more we might be together. Without you, nothing else matters very much. Oh, I am glad for friends, and work and physical comfort, but I grow weary for the sound of your voice, for your arms about me and your kisses, and the life we dreamed of, oh, it’s years ago, isn’t it?




Dec. 28/18

My Dear One:-

To-day I was down at the telegraph office when some soldiers came in. They had just got off the train and were wiring their friends when they would reach home.

The other day Mr. Winter came in and told me about the Shouldice’s baby. I don’t know why, but I just turned weak and sick, and the feeling I had when I got that telegram swept over me. You know I can’t yet realize that it is true. I keep making up all sorts of fairy stories that you are coming back. My heart is heavy and I seem to have lost the power to feel.

I may go down to sit with Celia tonight. The fact that you are gone and that I am alone, makes it easy for me. Sometimes it seems Ferd as if those who look out for themselves in the first instance are the ones to whom all things are added. And I feel as if I’d like to get away from everything. Yet there is a great deal of kindness and nobility in the world. We can see what we look for and what we think about; therefore Paul’s wisdom shows itself in admonishing us to think of things that are lovely and of good report.

Goodnight my own sweetheart. At least I have a guiding star. Yes, I do love you and I know you know it.




March 3/19

Oh my dearest, it was two years ago yesterday that you went away. Last night, and the night before I dreamed that you loved somebody else, and one morning I roused with such a heartache, I could not understand how you could love anybody else. Then I saw your picture and knew that you were dead. Dead - Oh God.

Daddy said that down there they had a Peace ball

I don’t write much, I have not time, for it doesn’t matter to you and is only a vent for my own feelings. I find a great deal of kindness and helpfulness in the world, but what makes it so hard for some of us, is that we want to be first with somebody not one in the outside circle. To me it is like being a deposed queen.

Good night sweetheart, dear friend and guide.




April 8/19

When Joan in ‘Joan and Peter’13 looked at herself one night and found herself beautiful, she said ‘But what’s the good of that?’ And I feel that way too. Of course it was sort of crazy starting off alone, but what else was I to do? What makes the pain almost unendurable is to know that there will not be an end of it here. There are now always returning soldiers being met, and always young husbands and wives together. It was you who taught me to travel and we were such chums.




Oct. 26, 1925

So many years have gone, long years they’ve been and hard. I wanted to be alone tonight to think, but Phyllis came in for a while and the time was gone. I feel the need on once more deciding what my standards are; I have been going along on acquired momentum for a long time and now it seems exhausted.

It is eight years since what? If I only knew. You said once before we were married that you had come to feel life was not worthwhile but that I had taught you it was. Come to me and show me the fulness and realness that it ought to have.




The following poems may have been written by Evelyn as there are several loose pages of drafts in the notebook.

Peace has come to the world at last
Over all lies a calm
Silence, pervading the uttermost parts
Gives to the Earth the sign.
Ye who are weary of war strife
Sleep like children tonight
Knowing tomorrow will bring you joy
As it ushering the light.
Ye who are mourning with heavy hearts
Sleep like children tonight
Knowing their morrow has brought them joy
And ushered in the Light.





I’ve built a chapel to your memory
Where, like the relics of an old world saint
Are hidden thoughts of dear delights gone by
Kept from the curious gaze of men lest they
Unloving ones, might enter in and spoil.
Into this secret chamber of my soul,
Heartsick with hopeless longing do I steal
Into thy shrine, and as in days of old
A suppliant friend safely at the altar rail,
So I find peace and even happiness
In thinking of those happy days when we
Trod joyously the paths of Arcady.





Obituary notice from a 1917 newspaper, placed loose inside the notebook. Source unknown

FRED ALBRIGHT 
Canada can ill afford to lose young men of the type of Fred Albright, whose death in France was announced this week.
A rising barrister who gave promise of going far in his chosen calling, popular with a legion of friends and esteemed
by the members of his profession, an energetic and zealous church worker, a loving and devoted husband, above all a
good Canadian citizen, his death leaves a void that will truly be felt in this community.
Fred Albright enlisted not because he loved war, not because the life of a soldier appealed to him, not because he
did not have reasons aplenty for remaining at home; he enlisted purely out of a sense of duty, because he felt he
was called to don the uniform and to serve his country and his God. He answered the call and he has paid the price.
By his life Fred Albright was an example to every young man in this city. And if his death and the manner of it
should prove an inspiration to others to follow in the path he has trod, to place duty before ease and country before
self, it will not have been altogether in vain.



Endnotes

1. The Worn Doorstep by Margaret Sherwood. Boston : Little, Brown, c1916.

2. Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) Served as Canada’s first French speaking Prime Minister. Term of Office: 1896 - 1911. Leader of the Opposition 1887-1896.

3. Acta Victoriana, student publication of Victoria College. Fred was editor-in-chief at one time.

4. The Honorable Peter Stirling and What People Thought of Him, by Paul Leicester Ford. New York: Henry Holt and Company. First published 1894.

5. Evelyn is referring to a glowing tribute paid by W.C.A. Moffatt in a Dunville, Ontario newspaper, January 1918. In the article Moffatt comments that “F.S. Albright will be remembered as one of the brightest of the “Old Boys” who sacrificed a brilliant career to take up the sword of battle.” And that “Not for many years will it be forgotten that the man who had a great deal to do with the framing of the Alberta Temperance Act and wo died with his face to the foe in his first fight were one and the same.”
The article concludes, “As recently as last March Pte Albright passed through Toronto on his way to the front. There he kept but one ‘rendezvous with death’ - Passchendaele.”

6. The Palliser Hotel Calgary, opened on June 1, 1914.

7. Fred’s letter of July 21, 1917

8. Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge (1851-1940). British physicist and writer. He was the first person to transmit a radio signal (one year before Marconi did so), and received international recognition for his work. Lodge was a long-time researcher into psychic phenomena and a dedicated believer in Spiritualism. After 1900 he became prominent in psychical research, and believed strongly in the possibility of communicating with the dead. He believed “that there is no real breach of continuity between the dead and the living.”
After Lodge’s son Raymond (1889-1915) was killed in the First World War, Lodge attempted to make contact with him through mediums. Lodge was convinced he had done so. Many of Raymond’s letters from the trenches are contained in Lodge’s book “Raymond or Life and Death: With Examples of the Evidence for Survival of Memory and Affection after Death,” London: Methuen & Co, 1916

For more information about Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge visit the website


9. Dr. Helen MacMurchy, Advocate of Public Health Reforms.

10. Please see the links for Frederick Albright's certificate and letter of death in the table of contents.

11. John Oxenham, English poet and novelist 1852 - 1941 “...During the First World War his poetry sold over a million volumes, showing him to be the most popular poet at that time.”

12. Bruay, France in the Pas de Calais area. Scene of much heavy fighting during the War.

13. Joan and Peter : the story of an education / by H.G. Wells.
New York, London, Toronto, Melbourne; Various publishers, 1918.
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