I’ve been having an emotional few days reading through some of the thousands of emails that Terry and I sent to each other while dating long distance for five years. The most recent batch that I was reading were from the months during which I graduated from university, applied to and was accepted to the Peace Corps, flew to England to see him for two weeks before moving to Africa. The emails that we sent are so beautiful and optimistic and I have wept for the youthful optimism that we once shared. We truly believed that one day we would get to live happily ever after in the same country and it breaks my heart that neither of us could have ever anticipated the way our story would end. One email, sent shortly before I left for Senegal reads:
I really enjoy talking to you and I always look forward to talking to you every night. I know that when you go to Senegal we won’t be able to talk every night, and to start with that will be very hard as i have gotten use to talking to you every day and I love it.
I will always be here for you and even if we only get to talk once a month then that is what we will do and we will be fine. I will write you emails and letters and I i will send you pics and stuff we will get through this and grow stronger together.
I love you with all my heart and always will.
So don’t worry about whether I am ok about you going coz i am fine with it as I know that we will be together at the end and we will be going travelling together after, with the next chapter in our lives together.
You really are amazing and I am head over heels in love with you, you are every thing to me so there are 2 conditions of you going to Senegal.
- you have fun and enjoy this experience and
- you come home safe to me.
Love you so much.
Your silly brit
These words are some of my most cherished possessions but they are still incredibly painful to read and they remind me of the magnitude of the love that I have lost. Having spent the weekend pouring over Terry’s emails, I went into school emotionally drained and a bit sad this morning. I had volunteered to lead an arts and crafts session on making handmade cards with a group of students. We spent the morning making marbled cards using shaving cream and food dye and then used pencil rubbers as stamps. While making a card with one of the Year 7s, she reminded me that I had been her teacher in September. You were a really good teacher miss, and I was really sorry to hear your sad news. And then the conversation went on to other things, as they do with young children.
At the end of the day, the girl brought me this card that she had made for me:
It took me almost four months to build up the courage to go back to work after Terry died, but being back in school and being around my students has been so helpful these last six months. Teenagers often get a bad rap and while they are capable of being absolutely horrendous, they are also capable of being kind and compassionate and this girl’s card melted my broken heart.
I wish that it was possible to always stay happy; these days happiness is a struggle for me. It does not come so naturally as it once did when all was well in the world, but these past nine months have shown me that even in my darkest days, happiness is still possible. It is worth fighting for and when it presents itself, it should be held onto for dear life.