To Ypres With Love

From Christiane

My Dearest Julien,
I do not know when this letter will reach you, or if it will reach you at all, but I pray it finds its way into your hands and that you are well when you receive it. We are both scattered to the winds these days. Brussels seems so long ago, back when I was just a student and you were a painter instead of a soldier. Another lifetime. I have not forgotten the promise we made the night before this madness parted us. When this is over we will marry, my love, back in Flanders. I will wear your mother's dress and Father will play for us. It will be beautiful, my Julien. I close my eyes and I see the beauty of what is to come, even if there is none here and now when I open them.
There is much work here for a nurse and, despite what I learned and did back in Belgium, I feel myself horribly inadequate. The men here suffer so much, and there are so few hands to ease them. I try to remember how Mother worked, never flagging over the sickbeds of our neighbors when I was a girl. I still feel a girl playing at being a nurse sometimes. But I still try. I volunteered because I believed I could do some good. Because I could not see everything I loved torn to ribbons and do nothing.
I pray to God my hands find the skills they need to do my job and help heal these men. I pray one day I will meet Father and Mother again back home, and sit around the table with my brothers, and we will eat together and laugh as we did before. And I pray you will be there with me. And we will be husband and wife forever, as we promised we would. Mostly, I pray this will end. That there will be a world, someday, that is clean and beautiful and peaceful again.
My love and faith always,

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