January 23th, 1900
My darling Gil,
How arduous these cold and dreary winter days feel! January always seems the most trying month as we return to a world in which festive cheer is packed away along with the Christmas tree candles. Even the snow has started to make way for muddy spring paths. I shall have to tread lightly to make sure my hems aren’t frightfully stained when I arrive at Blackmore House — Mrs Blackmore would surely have a conniption!
My tirade of the gloomy weather aside, your letter was an utter burst of sunlight, crisp as blaring trumpets. But then again, all your letters are. I suppose this one was just also in stark contrast to the dull atmosphere that has befallen Charlottetown this month.
Poor Ben having to put up with us even when I’m not there! I shall have to be sure to send him a substantial birthday present this year. Do you happen to know what his favourite baked goods are? He seems like he would appreciate a scrumptious batch of ginger snaps, but I’ll leave the sleuthing to you.
But oh, to come to your most wonderful words about our time spent together. Reading your words about how it thrills you to see or hear our names alongside one another has made my toes tingle, and my face turn that awful shade of crimson that I so dread. I would never — not in a million years — want my name to be tethered to anyone else’s but yours. I fear our souls have been intertwined for far longer than either of us may ever know, my love. It will be the greatest pleasure to experience that bond for the rest of my life.
Thank you for including your memories from Christmas in your letter. Now I not only have my own heavenly memories to hold onto, but also your version of those memories. No present in the world could be better than the tiniest peek into the mind of Gilbert Blythe on such a happy occasion. It scares me in the best possible way that you see so much in me. Ways in which I don’t even have to tell you, because you just know. How lucky I am to be alive to be loved by you, my darling Gil. I know you think that it scares me that you think so much about the future (and, to your credit, it does scare me sometimes) but what I never have to fear is to live my life without you by my side to hold my hand.
At the time of writing my last letter, I had not yet received the letter that you had bid Marilla hide on your behalf. However, upon receiving your last letter, I immediately started my search and found it wedged underneath the lining of my suitcase. I have to assume that Marilla had been worried I’d lose it and because she went through all the trouble of preventing that eventuality, I could not find it altogether! Oh, Gilbert. How special it is to have this to treasure forever as a fond memory of our first Christmas spent together. I could not imagine a Christmas that I do not spend with you from now on. I do believe that this letter could be the first way in which we capture a moment or a feeling from this time to place in a jar. We shall, of course, write many other ones too, but I should like to open this letter again one day when the dream of us and our family has come true. I shall prepare my own jar in which to store these memories, and you can make your own, until one day where we never have any more need for separate jars. I know you say that this is far in the future, but being able to imagine spending every waking moment by your side brings me so much comfort, I can sometimes trick myself into forgetting that you are not here.
In a very strange way, the high demands of academics do seem to be a golden ring on the horizon. Not only do William Blake and Mary Shelley very kindly keep me company when the sun takes an early night, but when they and their contemporaries write of Gothic mansions and barb-guarded churches, it almost feels as though I have been dropped into a fantasy land. I can scarcely call what I am doing “studying” half the time because I relish it so, and it never really feels like work.
We have also been studying the poetry of Susanna Moodie, who immigrated from Ireland to Canada with her family in the 1830s. I find it fabulously beguiling that the ship that she had sailed on could have followed the exact same route as the one on which my parents had crossed the Atlantic to make their home here. How spellbinding it is to think on all the possible paths that lives may have taken to come to the same place! Why, your family has lived in Avonlea for generations and if my parents had never decided to come and make Canada their home, I might never have met the love of my life.
It makes my heart sing when I see Walt Whitman’s words, handpicked by you, written in your own hand. Dear Walt must be a kindred spirit to us both if he so easily gives us the words that we have longed to say to one another. Please promise me you won’t ever stop sharing your most favourite words and quotations with me. I believe we are all made of words and that it is those that you write or (hopefully, in the future) speak to me that stitch the pages of my book of life together.
Do tell me what your studies are like. Before you spoke about medicine with more passion than I ever thought someone could possess on that subject, I had never even considered that the inner workings of muscles and bones could provide much scope for the imagination. I look forward to spending much more time being proven wrong by you. (Not always, mind you, and you will have to cite your sources every time, Gilbert Blythe.)
I know that you had mentioned a rather trying test schedule that lies ahead, although the specifics were never discussed as I didn’t want you to think of practical laboratory work when you were thinking of measurements for the scones. (Perhaps that is why you have the makings of a good baker? Baking is, after all, a science of its own.) However, no matter what work lies ahead for you, I am sure that you will master it with your end goal forever in your peripheral vision.
Despite all my talk of academics now, I am sure that I have done a very poor job of masking the fact that I miss you dreadfully and that it truly grieves me to know that I shall only know the solace of feeling your lips brushing against mine again at Easter. As the foolish saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Whoever said that had never been loved by you, my darling Gil. If they had, they would know that I could not possibly grow any fonder of you than I already am. Then again, you are always proving me wrong. And yes, you may take that as a challenge. I am fortunate to be loved by you, and I shall never take that for granted, my love.