We were in Winchester on a day trip, and had just finished lunch at Pasty Presto. It promised ‘The World’s Best Cornish Pasty’ but all we got was a plateful of potatoes and disappointment.
The cathedral, in all its Gothic charm and gloom, cheered me up somewhat.
I still felt the need to squeeze more out of the trip so when I saw a sign announcing ‘Books! Books! Books!’ I announced I would go inside for a “quick” peek. (I kid. It’s never quick.)
While browsing I chanced upon a red, clothbound book titled ‘English Love Poems.’ There was a handwritten note on the inside cover.
“Love alters not — ;
If this be error —
— no man ever Loved.”
To my darling, Dot.
If Dot was so special, why didn’t John bother to write out the sonnet in full? It’s a beautiful sonnet; hearing it always reminds me of that scene in Sense and Sensibility when Kate Winslet was on top of the hill in the pouring rain, mumbling Sonnet 116 to callous Willoughby. Did John presume Dot would fill in the blanks? That’s ironic, as John is giving Dot the gift of words he shouldn’t be so stingy with writing them out.
I had started to dislike this John character, and I didn’t even know him.
Then I saw, on the opposite inside cover, another handwritten note. This time it was written in blue ink.
Love is not changed by death,
Nothing is lost, and in the end
all is harvest.
I paused. To tell someone you love them when they’re still around is great. To continue to do so, even after they’re gone, that is something else.
I bought Dot’s book.