When Calls the Heart: Close to My Heart
It has been three weeks since Hope Valley received the devastating news of Jack’s death and now the town gathers to await Elizabeth’s return. Before returning to Hope Valley, Elizabeth stops at Cross Creek Meadows to pay respect at Jack’s gravesite and remembers his funeral.
During Elizabeth’s absence, Rosemary has been substituting in the classroom. The students are all excited to hear that Elizabeth will be returning to the school after her three-week absence. The kids want to know if they should call Elizabeth “Mrs. Thornton” or “Miss Thatcher.” Rosemary tells the class to still call their teacher “Mrs. Thornton” because that is who she will always be.
Back at the house, Elizabeth recalls some of her most precious memories with Jack. Her quiet time is interrupted when Abigail, Rosemary and a handful of students surprise her at the door. The kids present her with a sympathy card that the entire class signed for Elizabeth. The visit is quick and before everybody leaves, Opal gives Elizabeth a big hug. Abigail stays behind to ask how Elizabeth is really doing. Elizabeth realizes the grieving process is just one day at a time. Abigail also informs Elizabeth that before Jack left for the Northern Territories, he gave her a letter to pass on to Elizabeth if anything happened to him. Elizabeth tearfully takes the letter.
Elizabeth goes for a walk in town. She runs into Bill, who presents Elizabeth with a horse from the Mounties. Bill tells her that Jack would want her to take the horse and he offers to take it to the stables.
Rosemary and Lee host Elizabeth for dinner that evening. Rosemary brings a smile to Elizabeth’s face when she tries to convince Elizabeth that the students have been little angels since her departure.
Abigail sits in the dark, thinking about fond memories of Jack. Bill finds her alone and tells Abigail he has been doing all he can to avoid thinking of Jack’s death. Bill tells Abigail that he has always thought of Jack as a son and he wishes he had the chance to tell him that. Abigail knows that deep inside, Jack already knew. Abigail and Bill cry together as they hold hands by the fire.
The next morning, Elizabeth gets ready for work and stares at the unopened letter from Jack. Rosemary shows up and the two walk to school together. Once again, Elizabeth is flooded with memories and goes running to the café for consolation from Abigail. A sobbing Elizabeth tells her she doesn’t know if she can stay in Hope Valley.
Elizabeth visits Carson at the clinic and he asks questions about her loss of appetite and exhausted sleep patterns. Elizabeth has a confession for Carson: she wants his personal opinion, too. She wants to know why he stopped practicing medicine after his wife passed away. He told her he just needed to get away from everything for a while. While he said it helped to go on a temporary escape, he also assures Elizabeth that everybody grieves differently, and she should do whatever she wants.
Rosemary has taken over the classroom and notices Opal is very glum. Rosemary gives the class a reading assignment and directs her attention to Opal in private. Opal says she doesn’t feel like she has anything to say and Rosemary tells her when she is ready to share, she will be there to listen.
Abigail invites Elizabeth over for a gathering of local widows. The women who lost their husbands in the coal mining accident share how they learned to live with their losses. Each woman reveals they never stop missing their husbands, but they do cherish the memories left behind. Elizabeth finally speaks and says she feels cheated for not getting more time with Jack. Abigail reveals that after the mining accident she thought about leaving Hope Valley for good, but Elizabeth gave Abigail hope to move on and she will forever be grateful to her for providing that.
Later on, Elizabeth pays a visit to the property Jack had bought for their future home. There, she decides to open Jack’s letter. In it, Jack tells her that he will forever be watching over her, and that she taught him what real love was. He also lets Elizabeth know that he wants her to find love again. Elizabeth cries as she reads Jack’s words.
The next morning, Rosemary decides to take the students on a field trip to the saw mill so they can get creative. She is surprised to find Henry at the mill as the volunteer to help the kids make their crafts. Once again, Opal is sad and does not want to participate in the same activities as her classmates. Rosemary rushes to Elizabeth’s to inform her of Opal’s struggles and Elizabeth agrees to go talk to her student one on one.
With Rosemary’s help, Elizabeth sits down with Opal to ask why she is so quiet in class. Opal finally opens up and says she is mad at herself because she never had a chance to say thank you to Jack for saving her life in the fire before the wedding. Elizabeth assures Opal that Jack always knew how grateful she was. Elizabeth shares the story of Jack saving her own life in a mining accident. Elizabeth says that she and Opal now have something in common for the rest of their lives: Mountie Jack saved both their lives, and every night they will include him in their prayers.
Elizabeth heads to the stables to visits Jack’s horse. She then decides to ride him through the fields, remembering special moments with Jack. After her horse ride, she goes back to Abigail’s Cafe and finds Rosemary and Abigail having tea. Rosemary thanks Elizabeth for getting Opal to be back to her chatty self. Elizabeth tells the women she is ready to go back to teaching.
The next morning, Elizabeth is surprised to see her students early in class accompanied by Abigail, Lee, Rosemary and Henry. They all greet her with a “good morning, Mrs. Thornton.” The kids are eager to show Elizabeth the project they built for her at the saw mill with the help of Henry. They present her with a hand-crafted wood sign that reads: The Jack Thornton School. Elizabeth tearfully accepts the gift. As mayor, Abigail hangs the sign and officially names the school after Jack.
Elizabeth is giving a lesson about cities and pauses when she talks about Chicago, the city where she and Jack were supposed to honeymoon. She says the city burned down in a fire in 1871 but the community helped each other to re-build. Opal says she is happy Elizabeth is back and the students all welcome their teacher with a big group hug.
Abigail wants to know how Elizabeth’s first day back at school was and Elizabeth lets her know it was exactly what she needed. Elizabeth already has papers she needs to grade at home. Before she leaves, Abigail has one more surprise in store for her. She walks in the back of the café to find the widows of Hope Valley have made Elizabeth a beautiful quilt, where they each worked on a section. The quilt is to let Elizabeth know that she will always be wrapped in love. The ladies invite Elizabeth to join them for coffee but she immediately gets nauseous. She steps outside to get some air, and Abigail follows. Abigail has put all of Elizabeth’s symptoms together—nausea, headaches, tiredness, loss of appetite—and tells her with a joyous smile, “Elizabeth, you’re going to have a baby!”