Jane walked through the gallery smelling like a leftover tragedy and went straight to her grandmother's room. She knelt on the floor and lifted the lid of a glass jar kept in the corner. Letters tied with jute threads, dried roses and old photographs sat in the jar, the weak rays of sunlight illuminated them, returning vigour and energy that they had long since lost.
The thin layer of dust on the top made her wonder why she'd never gotten rid of it, Jane would never know now.
She removed the lid and let out the scent of lingering tears and roses as she did.
She gently reached in, extracting the letters with care and as an after thought, she raised one of the aged roses to her nose and sniffed it. The faint aroma rushed into her nose and flooded her mind, reminding her of carefree days spent bathing in thick golden rays of light beneath a sky peppered with clouds.
Jane laid the rose to rest back in the jar with the other wilted roses and their pale petals before sitting on the edge of the bed, letters in hand.
With light fingers she removed the thread binding the letters and pictures together, placing the yellowing Polaroids beside her and she began to read.
The youth-soaked letters spoke of love, pure, unbridled, passionate love. How her grandmother had abandon the opportunity to dance with the greats of ballet when love had sparked in heart. Most of the letters were sweet, she and her lover longing for each other but that quickly faded as she poured over them. The story of a ballerina who came from nothing and hoped to be something, throwing it all away for a man who left her alone, broken. Her swift immersion back into the arts only to have the arts break her body after her heart had been devastated. By now the letters had changed, her handwriting had become frantic, tears had twisted the ink, turning it into soft swirls but still she read on.
Jane searched for the date in the corner, finding July 1968. Only twenty eight years old and suffering had solidified its grip on her, Jane thought, struggling to reconcile the sadness in these letters with the bright blue eyes of her grandmother that seemed to leak happiness.
She read on as she found happiness in painting and creating, smiling as her passion was reignited.
There were gaps between the dates, sometimes months or even years.
She continued on, reading of how her grandmother continued through the pain of her injury, not stopping when the world made her stop. Tears escaped her eyes, she thought they'd by dry by now but they came all the same only this time, sadness didn't pump them from her ducts but admiration. Admiration as the woman who had raised her survived pain, heartbreak, loss of a daughter and tragedies few would ever experience till she came to the final letter.
This one had Jane scrawled over the front.
Tentatively, her fingers trembling as she broke the seal and it drew the letter from within the envelope's depths.
She waited with baited breath, focusing on the first two words, 'Dear Jane,'
She inhaled before reading on.
'You must have found my letters by now which means either I've gone crazy or the cancer got me but don't feel bad for me. Those letters are just memories, a few that created the person I am. They were lessons in life, lessons I hope can show you that darkness is momentary, fleeting. Remember that I love you and that passion, passion for life will make it worth while in the end.'
Jane smiled, wiping the tears from her face. She wrapped the jute thread around the letters before dropping them back into the jar. Her hands browsed through the photos, feeling their smooth texture as she watched the face of her grandmother through the years before placing those too in the jar and sealing it with the lid.
She stood and walked to the door, the jar nestled in arm.
"Goodbye gran' mama," she said to the silence before shutting the door.