husband, Benny, passed away from a sudden massive heart attack
some years ago. We met during the last year of WWII in 1945
when he was a 2nd lieutenant in the 8th Air Force stationed
in England. He was 18 and I was nearly 16.
returned to the U.S., we corresponded with each other for
three years, sharing our love of poetry as well as other subjects
of interest. But I eventually stopped writing and became engaged
to a man named Peter near my 18th birthday. Benny also had
got engaged to an American girl named June.
Peter, my fiancé and I were returning home from an evening
out when I suddenly said to him that I had received a letter
from the young U.S. airman I had told him about. The letter
said that his mother and sister had invited my mother and
me to visit them in Michigan. Immediately I thought : WHY
DID I SAY THAT? It was untrue and I cared about Peter and
had no desire to make him jealous. Exactly one week later
I did receive a letter from Benny with that exact invitation
from his family.
to the U.S. for one month. Benny and I were together from
morning to night for that month in Michigan, and both realised
in our hearts that we belonged together. He said he wrote
that letter inviting us to visit, desperately trying one more
time to get in touch with me. Letters took one week to reach
England and we both were convinced that somehow I had picked
up on his strong emotions at the time he wrote it.
the right decision. We were later married for thirty nine
very happy years, and were blessed with two lovely daughters
who gave us six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
the poems Benny and I exchanged during our correspondence
was Elizabeth Browning's beautiful "How do I love thee, let
me count the ways." I had been widowed for seven years after
his sudden heart attack and was living in England. One day,
a friend and I were driving through the center of a busy town,
talking of poetry we liked, and I said, "Benny and my favourite
poem was Elizabeth Browning`s poem…" and just as I started
to quote the lines, we passed one of those electronic boards
that advertise Pepsi drinks or brands of cars, etc. As we
passed, the words "How do I love thee, let me count the ways,"
flashed over the board for just one split second, then returned
to the usual advertisement.
my friend if she saw it too, wondering if I had imagined it.
She looked rather stunned because she had read it too. The
last line of the poem is . . . "And, if God choose, I shall
but love thee better after death." How can I not see it as
a sign from Benny?
June 7, 2011