My dear Theo,
As I told you in yesterday's letter, I have been to Leyden.
Sien was confined last night; has had a very difficult
delivery, but thank God has come out of it alive and with a
particularly nice little boy as well.
Her mother and little girl and I went there together - you
can imagine how very anxious we were, not knowing what we
should hear when we asked the orderlies in the hospital about
her. And how tremendously glad we were when we heard:
“Confined last night…but you mustn't talk to her
for long...” I shall not easily forget that “you
mustn't talk to her for long”; for it meant “you
can still talk to her,” when it could easily have been,
“you will never talk to her again.” Theo, I was so
happy to see her there, lying close to a window overlooking a
garden full of sunshine and greenery, in a sort of drowsy state
of exhaustion between sleeping and waking, and then she looked
up and saw us all. Ah, my dear fellow, she looked up and was so
happy to see us exactly 12 hours after it had happened, as luck
would have it, even though there is only 1 hour a week when
visits are allowed. And she perked up so, and in a moment she
had got her wits about her and asked about everything.
But what I cannot marvel at enough is the child, because
although it was delivered by forceps it is not injured in any
way and just lay in its cradle with a sort of worldly-wise air.
How clever these doctors are! But by all accounts it was a
critical case. There were 5 professors standing by when it
happened and they put her under with chloroform. Before that,
she had suffered a tremendous amount because the child was
stuck fast from 9 in the evening until half-past one. And she
is still in a lot of pain now. But she forgot everything when
she saw us and even managed to convey that we should soon be
back drawing again, and I should not mind in the least if her
prediction came true. There has been no rupture or anything,
which can easily happen in such cases.
Heavens, how grateful I am! Still, the grim shadow goes on
threatening, as master Albrecht Dürer realized only too
well when he placed Death behind the young couple in that
marvellous etching you know. But let us hope that the grim
shadow will remain a passing shadow.
Well, Theo, I don't have to tell you that without your help,
Sien would probably not be here any longer. One more thing, I
had urged Sien to ask the professor to give her a thorough
examination, because she often had something they call the
whites. And he did that and told her what she must do to get
well again. And he says that she had been very close to giving
up the ghost more than once, especially when she had had
quinsy, during an earlier miscarriage, and again this winter -
that she was thoroughly enfeebled by years of worry and
agitation, and that now, when she no longer has to lead that
sort of life, she will get well by herself if nothing else
happens, through rest, through restoratives, by being out in
the fresh air a great deal and by not doing any heavy work.
With her earlier misfortune behind her, a completely new
period of her life will start, and though she cannot regain her
spring, which is past and was but barren, her midsummer
growth will be all the greener for it. You will know how in
the middle of the summer, when the greatest heat is over, the
trees put out fresh young shoots, a new young layer of green
over the old, weathered one.
I am writing to you at Sien's mother's, beside a window
overlooking a sort of courtyard. I have drawn it twice, once on
a large scale and once on a smaller one.
I should like you to
have a look at them if you happen to be at C. M.'s, for I
should like to know what you think, especially of the larger
one. When are you coming? I look forward to seeing you very
Well, brother, you are to blame for my being so happy today
that it made me cry. Thanks for everything, my dear fellow, and
believe me, with a handshake in my thoughts,
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 2 July 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 210.
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