DECEMBER 31, 1945
NEW YORK, Sunday—The day is here at last when I am to set sail, apparently with quite a number of others, for London Town! Many times before have I started alone on a trip to Europe, or gone with my husband or with the children; or I have seen off various members of the family either separately or in two or threes. I know, therefore, that certain things are inevitable as a prelude to a long journey, or even a short one, if it is across the water.
We all of us seem to become obsessed with the idea that everything must be in order before we take a trip abroad. If we have neglected to draw our wills, they must be drawn and signed before we go. If there is any work that has to be done, which we have known we ought to do for three months past, we do it the night before we leave. That means there is little sleep before we get on board, worn and weary with the knowledge that in spite of all our efforts something is sure to be forgotten and left undone!
Ordinarily, we would be saying to ourselves, "But at least, when I get on board, I can sleep for 48 hours." This time, none of us on this trip will be able to say anything of the kind. Our time will not be our own. I am told we will be "briefed," whatever that may mean, during the trip. I am thankful beyond words, however, for this "briefing," since I need it in the worst possible way. I know that I will not only listen avidly to everyone who has information to impart, but if any reading is suggested I shall be searching around for the books recommended and trying to find spare moments in which I can sit in peace and quiet and absorb their contents. I am taking with me several books, sent me for Christmas, on the backgrounds of various European countries and I hope to find time to read them all on the way over.
I am grateful now that so many years ago I lived even for brief periods in families of different types in various European countries. I am glad that through the years I have kept in touch with a number of them. When I hear people talk of France or Italy or Germany, I will not have to think only of one or two people in Paris, Berlin or Rome. I will be able to remember the little inns I stayed at, the farmers with whom I talked in Normandy or Brittany; the painter in whose Fiesole home I lived for a few weeks while visiting Florence daily; the German friend with whom I had roomed in school, whose home I visited and from whom I have always heard by letter between two wars. Her children are about the same age as mine, and her life has been hard—the last blow being the death of her youngest son while in a Nazi labor camp.
Through the years, with books and individual contacts, I have tried to keep in the forefront of my mind a picture of the life of the people I have known. The bombastic pronouncements of some of their leaders and the very evident faults of some of their governments could not change the people I know. It seems to me it will be more necessary now to remember the peoples and what they are like in this period of rebuilding than to remember the failures and the rantings that create anger in our hearts and fill us with hate and bitterness and make us less ready to find methods of conciliation to heal the wounds of war.