[postmarked April 18, 1944]
Dear Helen –
You were in rare form on the telephone Sunday morning – you rattled the questions and answers off like water off a duck’s back – the connection wasn’t very good but good enough so that I knew it was you – And it made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve seen you to have you become real for a few moments and then be snatched away – though sometimes I can almost make you become real and actually with me – as happened about a half-an-hour ago.
You see – we had our second typhus shot – today – producing that same weak, loggy feeling – so I decided to take on a little bunk fatigue, and closed my eyes and fell into a doze – that half-asleep, semi-dream world – And, of course, as usual whenever I go to bed, the first thing that popped into my mind was you. But this time, my imaginative powers were so strong that you were right there lying beside me. It’s hard to explain and maybe it was all enhanced by the fever accompanying the shot – but, I could have sworn on a stack of furlough-papers that you were actually there – I felt your arms around me and felt your warm cheek against mine – And as I held you close – the wonder suddenly struck me that I had almost forgotten the wonderful feeling it was – In the back of my mind lay this dormant thought of pure pleasure which I’ve always associated with being near you – and suddenly in an unexpected moment of reality I find that I’d been underestimating the emotal equality.
The mind is such a funny thing – it can take a memory and by constant thinking wrap it carefully in a cocoon like a silk worm – and as time goes by, this thought, is taken for granted, becoming stagnant – It takes reality to act as a shot of adrenalin.
So – you see, for a moment I again experienced that feeling of unadulterated joy – one which filled me with such pleasure that I thought I would surely burst – And now this memory shall last me a long time to come.
Does this all sound strange to you, Helen? It does to me – and I know that such a phenomena cannot be produced at will. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced an imaginative power of such strength – and it was just what I needed – If a typhus shot can produce this effect regularly – I’m all for buying a supply to use until I can see you again – And now that I’ve had my memory refreshed – I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait – but I will, dammit!
Tomorrow – unless my calculations are incorrect – is your birthday – No, wait it’s Wednesday – the 19th. I don’t even know what today’s date is. But am I right on the birthday? – The choice of birthday candles around here is not even to be mentioned – and a token of my esteem worthy of you – is not to be procured in this backwater of civilization – so bear with me until I find something I deem appropriate. And don’t say I’m being silly, Helen. I haven’t even had time to make up a card of my own.
So – the best I can do is say “Happy Birthday” and hope that by the time the next one comes around we can celebrate by closing the window and nailing it shut.
And now – my sweet one – your groggy fellah must hie his way to bed – alone –