‘Careful now, we don’t want to drop her, do we?’

Her dark anxiety faded as a dazed, fretful bundle nudged and stretched. A fist found and grasped Helen’s finger like a lifeline, so tight, Helen knew she could never let go, and her heart contracted lovingly. Creased lines in the tiny face would gradually relax as the days slowly widened. Eyes open, Cassie gazed longingly into her mother’s eyes.

‘She looks like her Dad, see?’ and Helen began to cry.

‘Yes, she does…’

The pain of loss stretched her chest and caught her breath. Ordinarily, she took condolences politely, with a hint of a tear and a rueful smile, ‘Yes, Jonathan was a special man….very special…’. At night, the covers over that cavern slipping, she fell and could not breathe. While their babe slept, heaving sobs gripped her throat. She welcomed them, let them wash her grief, clear the stains of loss, the waste of his stinking sickness, and the happy times before he died and left her alone.

It got easier. Cassie smiled so brightly, and her golden hair, at first so sparse and fine, grew over her crown into thick, shiny tresses.

At nine months, Cassie played and cooed on her mat, flicking the crinkly cow’s tail and pressing the buzzy bee’s wings. Cassie lifted her chin to Mum sprinkling glitter, blissful blue eyes catching sparkles.

Doorbell. Letter. Who writes letters these days?

Darling Helen

Thank you for being so brave.

With all my love, always,

Your Jonathan


Johannes Vermeer - 'Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window'
Johannes Vermeer – ‘Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window’

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