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The Profound Loss of Being

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Bash and Mary grimly knocked on the door of the small house that sat on the outskirts of Charlottetown. It was a neatly kept house, the little pure white windows sat snuggly in the red brick, roses were trellised up the walls framing the front door. The only sound that could be heard was the sweet sound of the robins calling to each other across the small garden and in the distance the soft bustle of carriages and murmur of voices. Mary gripped Bash’s arm tightly, her lips a thin line, and her eyes downcast. Bash leant across and kissed her forehead, he had not expected to be visiting the Blythe’s in such circumstances, and he was preparing himself for a Gilbert he had never hoped to see. Both of them jumped slightly as the door creaked open and Marilla’s saddened face appeared.

“Bash, Mary, oh…” Bash leapt forward as Marilla sagged against the doorframe. Taking one of her hands in his and wrapping his other arm around her waist, he manoeuvred Marilla into the box of a parlour, whilst Mary quietly shut the front door. As Mary walked into the parlour she faltered upon seeing the coffin that lay on the table that had been dragged from the kitchen.

“Bash, perhaps we should bring Marilla into the kitchen, let me put the kettle on and set us up some morning tea.” Bash nodded, his eyes widening as he noticed the coffin for the first time, and he promptly raised Marilla out of her chair and led her to the kitchen.

As Marilla collapsed into a kitchen chair, Mary filled the kettle, and Bash glanced down the hallway, then out into the small back yard. “Where is Gilbert Marilla?”

Marilla startled, one hand raising to her heart, the other to her head, “oh, um, he went for a walk whilst Dr Ward is with…”

Bash nodded, patting Marilla’s shoulder, “I’ll go look for him, make sure he’s alright, Mary?”

“I’ll stay here with Miss Cuthbert and make sure everything is squared away with Dr Ward.”

Bash looked at his wife with pride, admiration, and such huge love. He had known the moment he met Mary that she was special and that she was for him. He kissed Mary’s cheek before making his way down the hall and out the front door.

It didn’t take long for him to find the young, newly qualified, Dr Blythe. There was a lovely little park that sat between the streets that housed lower middle-class families, where the Blythe’s lived, and the Bog. It was a park that he, Mary, Gilbert, and Anne had gone to before; Bash knew it was a particular favourite of Anne’s as it held an over abundance of wildflowers that had taken over the more sculpted garden areas. Anne’s exact words had been “but see how wild and beautiful they are, they are little souls who cannot be caged by anything or anyone, they are my inspiration for the little souls I teach at the school.”

As Bash walked passed the two large oak trees that guarded the park he spied Gilbert sitting at one of the benches next to the spring that trickled across the north east corner. Gilbert’s hands were clasped under his chin, his elbows digging into his knees, his curls, too often shorn into good behaviour, had been allowed to grow wilder and unruly the past few weeks. Bash sat down next to his friend, his brother, and clasped him firmly on the shoulder. Gilbert didn’t even flinch, his tear stained gaze seemingly looking at nothing, but Bash knew the truth of it. Gilbert was seeing what he now could never have, a wife dancing through the wildflowers with a little girl tripping after her, smiles on both their faces.

“You know what Bash,” Gilbert’s voice broke the silence. “I’m angry for Anne, the childhood she had was… she’s told me things that… she deserved to be happy for once.”

Bash squeezed Gilbert’s shoulder, “let me tell you brother, on your wedding day I have never seen a lady light up and exude happiness as much as Anne did… I dare say she outshone your level of happiness.”

Gilbert huffed and bent his head, a single tear dropped onto his knee. “That day, I had never felt such happiness before… Bash, I love Anne so much, I… and our little Joy, she was so little and pale Bash… and I could do nothing!”

Gilbert leant into his friend as the tears flowed. Bash simply wrapped his arms around his friend and held him tight.

Mary and Marilla were sitting at the kitchen table sipping on their tea and eating some butter biscuits Mary had bought with her when Gilbert and Bash walked in. Gilbert looked wiped, his face pale, and his cheeks tearstained. He slumped in the chair next to Marilla. Marilla gazed at the young man she considered her son-in-law. She reached over and took his hand and squeezed it. Mary rose to make the two men some tea.

“Has Dr Ward left?” Gilbert murmured.

“Yes,” Marilla said. “It is good news Gilbert, Anne will recover, physically at least. It is the mental anguish, the grief, that I worry will take the longest to heal.”

“I don’t know what to say to her,” Gilbert’s voice tripped over his own anguish.

“You know what to say to her Gilbert,” Marilla smiled gently at him. “Know one knows her better than you do, and out of all of her family, you are the one who will bring her the most comfort. And Gilbert?”

Gilbert looked at Marilla’s face, so full of concern, so full of wisdom.

“Let Anne comfort you, you have both lost a child, and she knows this, she is worried about you.”

At that Gilbert stood, waved away the offer of tea by Mary, and turned to go up the staircase. As he took the first step he turned to the people he considered his family, they may not be blood, but they had been there for him and Anne through thick and thin, more so than a lot of blood relatives may have been. Clearing his throat he said, “thank you, all of you, we couldn’t have… well, thank you.”