The coffee shop is quite quiet at this time of day so I choose a seat near the window. I was staring out of the window at a woman tying her scarf a little tighter around her neck, it is sunny but the wind is bitterly cold. After the waiter puts down my coffee and asks if there’s anything else I need, I just smile and say ‘No.’ I know it will be too hot to drink for a while so I carry on staring out of the window. There are busy looking Mothers with their children, young girls in big ugly coats, laughing and chatting. There are one or two artfully scruffy young men with wild hair and fetching beards. Most of them wouldn’t have looked out of place at my University in the early sixties, I imagine they think themselves very modern, I smile and reach for my bag.
The bag is old and worn but it suits me so I have kept it. Inside there is a sheaf of old letters, I take one at random and open the first page.
“Darling Sarah. Has it been three weeks? It seems longer. The old man has given the go ahead for me to have the car this weekend so I shall drive down and take you dancing. I still feel like we are in Gentle’s hollow, sat on that fallen tree and you kissed me on the cheek.”
I can’t help but smile. He always spoke like a poet. I pull another letter from the bundle and read on.
“… Sarah, London is so thrilling. I’m sharing rooms in a house with George (you may remember him from the Cricket match in the Summer?) Also a Chinaman called Lu Xien, He is utterly hilarious. You will adore him and I’m sure he could beat even you at Bridge. I took your advice and bought a Bicycle, I can see why you love it so! I have been tearing about the Public Parks, I think I may have even gained some muscle!…”
I remembered that Summer, he was so daring and took off his shirt as we lay Sunbathing in Richmond Park. He looked so handsome. Like a Greek statue of some God or other. That was the very first time we made love. In that draughty old house he shared. He was so passionate, thoughtful and kind. It was the first time I said “I love you.” Three weeks later we were engaged and Married in the October of 1968. Oh we were so happy. Our Son Christopher was born in 1969 but we always called him Kit and then two years later we had Verity. They were such happy times. We were lucky that we never faltered in our love for each other. Of course we rowed, yet we always managed to find a way to find some solution, or common ground. When Kit was 11 he became desperately ill with Scarlet Fever. I thought I would loose my mind and would have without my Husband, My Ed, Edward, My Teddy-bear. Of course he was fine. We welcomed him home Ice Cream and TV and Doctor Who and all his favorite things.But children grow and rebel, as did we all. Kit grew out his hair and smoked drugs and tried to be a drummer and Verity, well Verity was just what I hoped for. Strong, opinionated and terribly clever.
The letter in my hand is one of the newer ones. It is written in a slightly more shaky scrawl.
“Hello dear. I must have missed you earlier, just so bloody tired all the time. The Nurse said you had stopped by. Thank you for the Pajamas and the tangerines, the food here isn’t bad but bloody awful compared to yours. I assume the Doctors and assorted medics have told you the treatments are making me a bit sick and sleepy. Honestly, Who gets Lung cancer if they have never smoked. I would laugh but the Matron has a face like a smacked bottom and I don’t think she like ill old men to look like they are enjoying themselves. Kit dropped by earlier, you must have just missed him. He really doesn’t suit a mustache does he? Verity called, these mobile phones are just wonderful aren’t they? If you come tomorrow, do wake me. I rather miss seeing your face my love…”
I fold the letters back and pop them into my bag. The waiter takes my cup and asks if I need anything else. “Not today Alex, I just popped out, I have to get back to Ted. He always likes to sleep in on a Sunday but we are having a big family Dinner and the grand children will be descending. See you next Sunday?”
We say our goodbyes and I step out into the bitter wind. Despite the cold, I get a lovely warm feeling in my tummy knowing that I can slip into bed and roll into the warm hollow and wrap my arms around the man I have been in love with for my entire life. Roasting Chickens can wait for an hour. Remission they called it. I called it a bloody miracle.