A moving comment on the effects of time and separation, and the hiatus of news caused by war. Firstly, the sorrow and regret of discovering the death of a loved one after months of silence, only thanks to the efforts of strangers.  Then the question of how many other pieces of bad news are waiting to be delivered.

And beyond that, once the channels of communication open again, will the lapse of time and the divergence of experience create  estrangement?

‘Three weeks ago – after four months of silence and anxiety – I received the news of my mother’s death in Switzerland, eighteen days after the event – in a letter from a stranger which had been smuggled across the frontier.  When letters begin again, how many other such pieces of news shall we all receive?   Which of our close friends and relations are already dead, or will die before we meet them again?  And, even among those who survive, what barriers of constraint and unfamiliarity will have arisen in these years – not only of physical separation, but of experience unshared, of differing feelings and opinions?  What ties will survive that strain?’

Source: Iris Origo, War in Val d’Orcia: A Diary, Edinburgh: John Cape Travellers’ Library, 1951 (1947), p. 148

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