In Bridge to Haven, Joshua and Abra carry on a Korean war-time correspondence. We cut some of the letters from the manuscript, but they may be posted on the Facebook page after the book is released. Letters were a way to keep the story moving forward and having time pass more quickly. Letters also showed the change occurring in two primary characters, one by the devastating effects of war on men in battle and the other, the turbulent emotional highs and lows of the teen years. Joshua already knows who he is and what he wants, but Abra has a lot of growing up to do. The letters also keep them connected and help them pick up where they left off when Joshua comes home, even though the emotional terrain has changed more than either realizes.
My mother and father had a war-time correspondence. They were married before Dad went into the Army. He trained as a medic (as Joshua does) and was sent to Europe. He was part of the third wave into Normandy. Before he left, he had dreamed of being a doctor. When he came home, the dream had died on the battlefield and he went into law enforcement. As an adult looking back, I wonder how PTSD may have played a part in many of his decisions and increased his vigilance and protective instincts toward his family.
War-time letters brought Rick back into my life during the Vietnam War. My brother was stationed in Hue at the time of the Tet Offensive. His building was blasted to smithereens and he was severely wounded and taken captive. Others with him had died in the blast, were shot later or taken north to prison camps. My brother was held under guard. When my brother was MIA, the story was headline news in our hometown. It was also headline news when he was found. Mom Edith had written daily letters to Rick while he served as a Marine in DaNang. During Tet, the mail stopped. When it started again, the first two letters he opened were about my brother. He wrote a letter which my mother forwarded to me at UNR. I wrote back. I came home on Christmas break a few days before he returned from Vietnam and came home on R&R. He dropped by on December 21. I went back to college. Rick went to El Toro. We continued to write and see one another whenever we could. We were married December 21 the following year.
War-time letters are precious. They carry a lot of history in them, but are sometimes too personal to share. My mother gave instructions that the letters she and Dad wrote to one another were to be burned after her death. It was so tempting to read them, but my brother and I honored her request. A few years later, Rick and sat together in our living room and reread our love letters. Then, with a feeling of ceremony, we burned them together in our fireplace. The Vietnam War is over, though the pain of lost friends is not to be forgotten. Our love continues on.