ardent desire for his presence which makes me so sorrowful, & when he writes such things as this -- & he has never admitted so much before -- I want him terribly badly, & the thought of what it may be if he returns, but is so likely never to be, is almost more than I can bear. At such moments I feel as if I were shut in a trap from which there is no escape & that I am vainly beating my hands against the walls -- a kind of fierce desperation, which renders me incapable of doing anything but feeling acutely conscious of inward suffering. Well, I asked for the big things of life & now I am up against them. The periods in peoples' lives at which they "put away childish things" varies very greatly. Since I asked for anything but stagnation, I must not, I suppose, complain if the time after which things never look quite the same again, has come to me very early. After all, as I said to Roland in a letter I wrote to him immediately I had read his, I think any number of weary apprehensive nights & days are not too high a price to pay for the happenings which have led to my being able to feel the anxiety I do. I told him also that I envied my photograph; it was more fortunate than its original, since she was never able to get past his reserve or really know him properly. I never thought I should ever say to any one such things as I write to Roland & suppose the nearness of death breaks down the reserves & conventions which are seen to matter so little in the light of elemental things. Certainly I have never been so conscious of my love for Roland as I have to-day. I don't know if it is that I have really grown to caring more & more every day of the last month, or if I am only realising now how much I loved him when I said goodbye a month ago. One is often a little stunned at first by the sharpness of such an ordeal as that. Either way, the result is much the same; it means that my need of him, of seeing & hearing & talking to him is so great that the longing for his presence
Brittain, Vera, Diary, 17 April 1915
From Youth to Experience: Vera Brittain’s Work for Peace in Two World Wars
17 April 1915
McMaster University Libraries
Vera Brittain estate; McMaster University has a non-exclusive licence to publish this document.