In his note-book that night he wrote:
At a quarter past 9 this evening she that was the life of my life passed to the relief & the peace of death after as months of unjust & unearned suffering. I first saw her near 37 years ago, & now I have looked upon her face for the last time. Oh, so unexpected!... I was full of remorse for things done & said in these 34 years of married life that hurt Livy’s heart.
He envied her lying there, so free from it all, with the great peace upon her face. He wrote to Howells and to Twichell, and to Mrs. Crane, those nearest and dearest ones. To Twichell he said:
How sweet she was in death, how young, how beautiful, how like her dear girlish self of thirty years ago, not a gray hair showing! This rejuvenescence was noticeable within two hours after her death; & when I went down again (2.30) it was complete. In all that night & all that day she never noticed my caressing hand—it seemed strange.
To Howells he recalled the closing scene:
I bent over her & looked in
her face & I think I spoke—I was
surprised & troubled that she did not notice me. Then we understood
& our hearts broke. How poor we are to-day!
But how thankful I am that
her persecutions are ended! I would not
call her back if I could.
To-day, treasured in her worn,
old Testament, I found a dear &
gentle letter from you dated Far Rockaway, September 13, 1896, about
our poor Susy’s death. I am tired & old; I wish I were with Livy.
And in a few days:
It would break Livy’s heart to see Clara. We excuse ourself from all the friends that call—though, of course, only intimates come. Intimates —but they are not the old, old friends, the friends of the old, old times when we laughed. Shall we ever laugh again? If I could only see a dog that I knew in the old times & could put my arms around his neck and tell him all, everything, & ease my heart!
THE SAD JOURNEY HOME
A tidal wave of sympathy poured in. Noble and commoner, friend and stranger—humanity of every station—sent their messages of condolence to the friend of mankind. The cablegrams came first—bundles of them from every corner of the world—then the letters, a steady inflow. Howells, Twichell, Aldrich—those oldest friends who had themselves learned the meaning of grief—spoke such few and futile words as the language can supply to allay a heart’s mourning, each recalling the rarity and beauty of the life that had slipped away. Twichell and his wife wrote:
Dear, dear mark,—There is
nothing we can say. What is there to say?
But here we are—with you all every hour
and every minute—filled with unutterable
thoughts; unutterable affection for the dead and for
Harmony and Joe.