You have seen our whole voyage. You have seen us go to sea, a cloud of sail–and the flag at the peak; and you see us now, chartless, adrift–derelicts; battered, water-logged, our sails a ruck of rags, our pride gone. For it is gone. And there is nothing in its place. The vanity of life was all we had, and there is no more vanity left in us. We are even ashamed of that we had; ashamed that we trusted the promises of life and builded high–to come to this!
I did know that Susy was part of us; I did not know that she could go away; I did not know that she could go away, and take our lives with her, yet leave our dull bodies behind. And I did not know what she was. To me she was but treasure in the bank; the amount known, the need to look at it daily, handle it, weigh it, count it, realize it, not necessary; and now that I would do it, it is too late; they tell me it is not there, has vanished away in a night, the bank is broken, my fortune is gone, I am a pauper. How am I to comprehend this? How am I to have it? Why am I robbed, and who is benefited?
I am working, but it is for the sake of the work–the “surcease of sorrow” that is found there.
–Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] (1835-1910), in a letter to a close friend after his favorite daughter Susy, aged 24, died of meningitis while her parents were abroad. Mark Twain and his wife never returned to the home where she died.
Not long after Amy passed away, I discovered grief quotes written by Mark Twain. After reading only a few lines, I recognized that tormented pain of child loss in his words. My empathy for this famous author brings me to tears even now. What many may not know is that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) lost 3 of his 4 children. His first-born, a son, died at age 19 months from diphtheria. Suzy, who he writes about above, was his first daughter. Jane, his youngest child, died on Christmas Eve from a heart attack at age 29. Only his third child, Clara, out lived him.
Life has always been unfair. The heart knew then what the heart knows now and the pain is still relatable.
It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live. There is but one reasonable explanation of it. The intellect is stunned by the shock and but gropingly gathers the meaning of the words. The power to realize their full import is mercifully lacking.
– Mark Twain’s Autobiography (on Suzy Clemens’ death)
Yes. So true.
Always remembering Amy.