Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

It is better to have loved and lost

This letter was written the day before Sylvia wrote the letter that you read in the last post. I pondered, today, the role of these letters and how they documented what two people felt on the same day, around the world.

This letter made me realize that I do not know when Sylvia’s birthday was. I guess it was in October, which is the same month as Grandma Sophie’s birthday.

To: Mrs. Alexander Rosner


Something tells me that today they will pick up our mail therefore I am writing this letter to let you know that I am well and happy (as one can be in this circumstance) at the above date. I hope that they also deliver a few letters from home. It seems as if they pick our mail up perhaps once a week, so do not expect letters too frequently. On my part I’ll try to write everyday, even if to let you know I am well, only.

Darling, tomorrow and day after I ought to be home to celebrate your birthday and our wedding anniversary. I’ll think of you constantly. And we shall postpone the celebration and the present which I have in mind for the time I am home. I hope you and baby are well, and that you don’t lack everything. If there was a way I’d ship your allotment from here, but that is impossible at the present time. If you are short, borrow, and don’t go without the necessities, I’ll pay back everything when I put my hands on the cash. Love and kisses to both of you.

I can’t help but feel sad reading this letter. I’ll admit that this blog has not been my main priority this last week. The present has occupied my mind more than the past. I was hesitant to pick up another letter from Alex or Sylvia because I thought it might be too hard to read notes that are so full of love and distance. These letters have something universal about them and today it is hard to read them without projecting the things I’m feeling on to what I read.

It was my aunt, Adrienne (Cookie), who wrote to me this week and said that the last letter had helped her understand how lonely it could be for Sylvia during these times. The letter was about the company she had that evening, but instead highlighted how alone she was at other times.

These letters so clearly meant everything to both of them. Many of the letters spend time noting when the mail is picked up, delivered, written and notably missing. It was their anniversary and Sylvia’s birthday and both of these normally happy occasions were marred by absence. In fact, these special occasions ended up serving to enhance that absence. My mood today may be melancholy but I try to find comfort, as they did, in the fact that they so often wrote to each other on the same date, overlapping, thinking of each other and doing their best to comfort one another.

To state the obvious: Relationships take many turns. Some last forever, some end too soon, and then there is the infinite gradient in between. The war temporarily challenged this relationship and simultaneously fortified it. Right now I can’t be with someone who I love anymore. And while I could, technically, pick up a phone and call this person, sometimes I guess it is better not to allow yourself access to instant communication. These letters are a testament to the strength of the bonds between people. So right now, I’m simply trying to find a way to draw strength from Alex and Sylvia.

As my mom reminds me: It is better to have loved and lost…


One comment on “It is better to have loved and lost

  1. Becca P
    July 13, 2010

    Hi Molls,

    Just catching up on your blog posts – I really enjoy reading them and appreciate the scanned originals. (There’s something aesthetically pleasing about handwritten notes, especially aged ones – don’t you think?)

    Anyway, this blog post – particularly the part about instant communication – reminded me of an essay called “Mail” by Anne Fadiman in The Best American Essays 2001. It’s about her father’s obsession with the post (both receiving it and responding to it) and her subsequent late introduction to e-mail. She writes about the pros (it’s so easy!) and the cons (accidentally sending an x-rated email to the wrong address; the swapping of well-crafted sentences for e-acronyms and emoticons). Perhaps you can relate. It’s worth the read, if you haven’t come across it already!

    Great to see you for the 4th – and I’m missing you all the way from Boston.


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This entry was posted on June 6, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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