The somber, weary Highlanders returning to Castle Leoch are a welcome sight for Glenna Fitzgibbons (Mrs. Fitz). Her greeting seemed boisterous, almost startling to me until I hit the pause button and thought about it.
When the Highlanders set out on their journey, she had no way of knowing if she’d see any of them again. She may have known why they were leaving, and I’m willing to bet she had them well-provisioned before setting out. But that’s all she knows, and it’s all she can do.
Mrs. Fitz lives pretty much in the here and now. She has to. Unless someone at the castle receives a letter or the tinker brings news, no one knows where the Highlanders are, what is happening, or when/if they will return home, safely or otherwise. Days, weeks, months, or even years can pass without a word.
How did they endure the loneliness and have the faith and fortitude to carry on? They must rise every morning full of hope and go to bed with a prayer that tomorrow will be the day they see their loved ones again. It must take a special kind of strength to move from one day to the next and not collapse under the weight of the sadness, despair, and heartache hovering at the edge of their reality.
I had to remind myself – there were no phones, no email, no overnight delivery. Dougal can’t send a text, telling her they’re twenty minutes out and to please have breakfast ready. He can’t tell her about Jamie’s shoulder injury (and gunshot wound), or that they found Claire along the way. They can’t send photos showing where they are or what they’re doing (knowing this bunch, some of them would have to be deleted, but you get my drift).
So, what does that mean in terms of living in the 18th century? Words count. Conversations matter. Life is more intense and passionate. If you care about someone, you better say or show it while you can, because you may never get another chance.
The joy on Mrs. Fitz’s face speaks volumes as she hugs her nephew, Murtagh. Sheer joy, relief, and happiness. He’s home, safe and sound. She teases, “Murtagh, you look and smell like a rat that’s been dragged through sheep dung.” Of course, he’s going to pull her into a hug and demand a kiss. She doesn’t mind it one bit.
I want to think that people wore their hearts on their sleeves (for better or worse) and spoke their minds, rather than holding back and waiting for the perfect moment, setting, or event. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from them instead of hiding behind our phones or computer screens. Death is final. Life moves on. Say the words. Tell them you love them. Often.