NEW YORK, USA,
20th of April 1912
It is difficult for me to admit now that you are never coming home again. This sadness is overwhelming. I do not know what to do. I drown myself in learning about our company, trying to keep your and father’s legacy alive. I never thought I would feel this much sorrow. Jane noticed how I changed. I suppose when life slaps you across the face, it transforms you drastically.
In order to remember who I am, I finally read your letter. And knowing it was your last, I will hold on to it for as long as I live. Thank you for everything you have done for me and, father. You have no idea how much you brightened up my life. But now it is dimmed. I have no idea if it will light up again, but I know it would in the future, not just now. I am still grieving.
I noticed when you and Alec met for the first time in the panic that you two seemed to know each other. When my curiosity piqued, I asked Aunt about it. She had told me that you and Charles or Alec, indeed, knew each other. Why was I not aware that you used to play with him when he was a baby? Well, I guess I will only know through Aunt’s stories and photographs. She showed me one. You were twelve, and Aunt said that Victoire was seven, and in your arms was three-year-old Alec, wearing a party hat. The date in the back made me calculate your age: 13th of September 1892. Also, there was something written beside it as well: ’Happy third birthday to Charles!’
You all looked so cute. It made me smile.
I never realized that you have tons of photographs here too. I even saw a photo of Aunt and mother. They were so young and beautiful. Being here makes me feel that father, mother, you, and Alec are with me.
When I entered my room here and saw the other gift, you were saying in your letter. It made me pleased and gloomy at the same time. I love it so much, I do, but this pain is unbearable, for you never had the chance to see my reaction.
The beautifully hand-carved mahogany and ornate with gems and flowers; this easel is extraordinary. Also, the high-quality painting materials, brushes, and oil paints sat perfectly by the window. Then different sizes of white canvases leaning against the wall are astonishing. Your diamond-studded bracelet was not enough for you, I believe. Henri, even if you are not here anymore, you can still make me smile. I will take good care of it, I promise.
Regarding your confession when we were at the pool, I believe it was my fault too. Before Alec, I was truly and madly, deeply in love with you. I supposed you and I share the same brain, for I also thought if we ever become lovers, it will be frowned upon. We will never know what it must be like to be a couple. Imagine, father would have a heart attack. That’s why I did not show how much I romantically love you. We had no idea we were both pining for each other. Funny, is it not? It is a cruel life. How did you manage to endure?
I guess I will never know.
Henri, thank you for everything. I know I have written it already, but I wish I have told you all this when I still could. I was absolutely sure and felt secured that you would still be here to hold my hand and make me smile every day. I took our time for granted. I thought you and I would be together for as long as we shall live. But I did not say anything, and now I am filled with regrets. I missed all my chances. But I have learned my lesson. Once I love someone, I will tell and show them how much for in a blink of an eye, it can be gone.
Forgive me, Henri. I still cannot believe you are gone. Even though I am bustling with Aunt Celeste, Ms Abram and Sergei, my mind drifts to this inescapable void. I could not sleep well for every time I close my eyes; I can see that night so vivid, hear the pleads and smell the metallic aid. And I can see your smiling face; it hurts. It hurts, Henri. How am I supposed to live without you in it? How am I going to go further in this life? I have so many questions, and my prayers left unanswered.
My dear Henri, I will never forget you. You’ve touched so many lives and made us feel like we’re alive. Ms Abram, Jane, Aunt Celeste, Victoire and especially me, you will never leave our thoughts and prayers. You will always have a place in my heart. No matter how tough and cruel life will be, you would be in my mind. I know you will tell me that everything will be fine because you would say it. That’s who you are.
I will not waste this chance. I will live and love for you.
Affectionately yours and forever,