A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
It’s a pity to close Romance Week with a less than happy ending, but on the other hand, there is no better ending than a real-life historical love story… albeit one without a happily ever after.
My mother found the little 1941 calendar pictured above in a thrift shop, and as I was flipping through its pages, I noticed somebody had scribbled a few diary entries in its empty spaces. I deciphered the small and smudgy writing for my mother, and the short tale that emerged left us both in tears.
Below is the translated version, with the names changed. You’ll miss out on the messy handwriting and the simple Finnish language that made the story seem so ordinary and thus even more poignant to me, but I hope most of its poignancy isn’t lost in translation.
Sometimes it’s good to remember that with great love comes the possibility of great sorrow.
June 23rd Midsummer Eve. I went to see A— off at the station, he went back to war. May God protect him and give our country its freedom back again. If only I got my A— back in good health, it would be wonderful. I miss him so!
June 29th. I’m going to N—‘s house for the sauna. I miss A— so much.
Night before Sunday, July 13th. It’s half past three. I can’t sleep, I don’t know what it is. R— is sleeping and she’s a little restless, I suppose it’s a bit hot here. Somewhere a cock is crowing and the sun is already high. The flies are still buzzing though I’ve already caught so many of them. I’m quite ill. Last night I was at E—‘s for the sauna. I wonder where A— is now and whether he’s thinking of me because I can’t sleep. I wish you would come home soon, I miss you so. If the war were to end soon and I got my health back, we would have such a lovely life together for the time that God has given us on earth.
I don’t think other people are sleeping either, I can hear somebody swatting flies and across the street the missus is looking out of the window. It seems the summer’s magic is robbing people of their sleep. I think I’ll make myself a cup of coffee to pass the time, as I can’t lie down, my belly is aching so much I can’t be still. I don’t know what will come of it, I don’t know where to find a doctor either, they’ve all gone to war.
July 24th. It’s my birthday and the first day of my holiday. The girls at the shop gave me a book, Olivia. I was at the home front party, there were many performers there, and then we went to the restaurant at K—: E—, E—, S—, Mrs L. and me. Then on top of everything I got a letter from A— when I came home. It’s midnight now and I’m going to bed.
August 4th. A— my beloved, was this then the date of your death, as your companions wrote to me from the front.
Thank you for all your goodness and your love. I will keep your memory deep in my heart. You were everything to me. I hope that one day I can be with you where there is no more war or suffering but eternal peace. Stay, my A—, in the Lord’s everlasting arms and may God’s peace rest upon you wherever you are sleeping your last sleep. E—.