View of Ford building; multistory building has columns at entrance. Pedestrians, automobiles and streetcars in foreground. Printed on front: “Ford building, Detroit, Mich.” Printed on back: “Ford building, Detroit, Mich. Ford building is an 18 story office building, on the corner of Congress and Griswold. It is 250 feet high from the sidewalk and tourists can get a beautiful bird’s eye view of Detroit and Canada from the roof. C.T. Co., Chicago, A-2724.” Handwritten on back: “I have sent the package this is Thursday and if you are down Saturday stop in the Post Office and see if it is there. I would like to have her have it Sunday. With love, Clara.” Card is postmarked April 8, 1918.
Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library
I was torn… Should I talk to Jamie? Should I tell him I had invaded his private fortress, in a way? Maybe this was an exaggeration, but I couldn’t help but feel this way. I wanted him to talk to me, yet I also understood that he needed this solitude, to deal with his own grief. God knew I was still doing the same.
It’s a complicated and personal matter, this thing that is grief… At the same time you want to experience it alone, yet you also want to share everything with the ones who may understand you. That is also painful, even if it does help… The burden gets lighter, but part of me wanted to save those memories of my baby all to myself. I had carried her, I had gone through the agony, the pain, all alone…
But had I really? I had been lost in sadness, and that was owed to me. But I had missed my husband’s pain. Now, I had a clearer view of what he had grieved inside the dark walls of the Bastille. So, after leaving the letter back in its place, I went upstairs to our bedroom, our blue- walled refuge with the large and soft blue quilt. While I was still trying to process everything that had come up upon reading Jamie’s words, I hoped fervently that our bubble would stay that way tonight. For grief is also a volatile business. Fortunately, Jamie and I are not.
I took off my clothes and changed into to my sleeping shift and a grey shawl. Even after washing my face, the obvious puffiness of my eyes would not fool him. Shaking with anticipation, I sat down and combed my fingers through my hair. I was nervous and afraid. Of what, I was not sure. So I closed my eyes and took deep breaths, he is the one who knows me, who understands me, he is the one who completes me. It was an after shock of those lonely times in the hospital bed…
Jamie would be up soon after joining Murtagh for a dram and checking in on Fergus and Rabbie. He had been checking in on Fergus every night, assuring him he was safe at Lallybroch, that Scotland was his home and that the devil would not come for him.
I heard steps outside the door and he entered the room. With no success, I tried to hide my face, but obviously he saw right through me.
“Sassenach, are you unwell? What is it?”, Jamie asked anxiously. I knew what was going through his mind, and how much he wanted to try to help me, even though his words failed.
He took my hand and we sat at the foot of the bed. He took the hand he was holding in both of his and whispered in Gaelic. I caught mo nighean donn in there. My eyes were getting watery again, I simply couldn’t stop.
“Jamie, I found it, I am sorry.” He instantly knew what I was talking about. He was not mad, he simply dropped his head… “Aye, I thought that was a possibility… To be honest, I didn’t know if I wanted ye to read it or not.” Sighing deeply he continued, in a low husky whisper, “I’m sorry.”
“Stop saying that Jamie, stop it, please. We can’t torture ourselves any longer.” My chin was quivering and my voice was shaking and failing me. I wanted to cry and at the same time shake him out of his guilt.
“I *AM* sorry Claire”, he was sobbing too now, “I am sorry, I want her here. I feel like I abandoned her, you, yet again.” He tried to exhaust himself everyday to erase some of these poisonous thoughts away, simply because having broken his promise to me had broken him as well. Even if had to be done… I sensed his despair, it came in waves of darkness that were stronger some days. On other days the sun was able to pierce through. That so called resilience…
“No Jamie, don’t say that.” I put my arms around him, my tears were slipping on his back through the loose shirt. I felt the same way he did, but we had to keep pushing and pushing. “She’s here”, I added, letting him go just a bit, so I could touch his face. He put his hand over my heart.
“Aye Sassenach, she is. I ken she is.” He hugged me then and we stayed like that for a bit trying to mend each other. “Always… ” For that was what I felt. Not in a selfish manner, for we would have our own Faith with us, no matter what would happen in the future. “I love what you wrote.” He grabbed my hands and kissed them with fervor, palms and fingers, worshipping almost. This was the connection he had to her.
We had left a part of Scotland with her, but we could bring her spirit here… Home. “Wait a minute, will you?” I asked, kissing him, before leaving the room. I walked down the stairs, went into the study. I took Jamie’s letter again and sat down, grabbed the quill and started writing on a fresh piece of paper:
Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play:
So just let me be beside the seaside
I’ll be beside myself with glee
And there’s lots of girls beside,
I should like to be beside
Beside the seaside!
Beside the sea
When I came back up, Jamie was by the window, back strained with tension, looking down. I hugged him from behind, holding our two tributes. “We could do one thing, Jamie. We can ask your parents to look after her, we can keep a little bit of her with them.” He grabbed my hands for a few seconds and turned around. Placing his forehead to mine he whispered, “Thank you, mo nighean donn.”
Mid-morning the next day we took our leave from the big house. Jenny clearly noticed our fleeting moods and swollen eyes, while going about our morning tasks. But for once, Janet Murray kept it to herself, distributing tasks to the boys. We walked in silent companionship until we reached the Lallybroch cemetery.
There they were. Ellen, Brian, Willie… Jamie had brought a shovel, I had brought a bouquet of flowers, including thistles, tied with a white bow. And of course, our respective letters. Jamie dug a small hole next to his father’s grave.
“Gus am bris an la agus an teich na sgailean”, he said, reading the words Brian Fraser’s stone had engraved on it. I looked at him, “Till the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”
“And they will Claire.” he declared, blue eyes on fire.
“They are flying away now Jamie, they are.”
“And our day is breaking.” With that we placed our pieces of paper inside a box we brought from our room and set it in the hole. Jamie covered it again and I placed the flowers on top of the small indentation of dirt and stones. We held hands.
Faith Fraser was home.
Later that night we were in bed already when Jamie turned to me. “I would tell you about it all Sassenach, but I thought it unfair. Not only your soul, but your body suffered through that alone. My job is to help you, to care for you…”
“And you think that my job is not to care for you either? It hurt, I told you it did, it still does. I was angry. But you are healing me, let me heal you too.” My eyes were begging him, simply because I couldn’t bear to feel that despair alone again, nor would I let Jamie feel it either. We were not that. We are soulmates. “Trust in that, Jamie.”
“Aye, my Sassenach” he smiled, “I poured my heart into that piece of paper, into my daughter’s soul. It felt like I was speaking to her, imagining her like you described her to me. I felt less broken.” He tucked a curl behind my ear. “Mo chridhe, ye are my world.”
“Kiss me, Jamie.” And he did.
I was buried in his chest, in bed, in a fuzzy almost asleep state… He was praying. I wasn’t even quite sure if he was doing so awake as he whispered: “Take care of my treasure, and by your grace, God, let me be enough. In Your wisdom, grant us another.”
*”Till the day breaks and the shadows flee away.” (phrase present in Brian Fraser’s tombstone, in the show, from Song of Solomon 4:6)