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#0099: Willa Cather to Mariel C. Gere, October 7 [1904]

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1180 MURRAY HILL AVENUE4 My Dearest Mariel1;

I simply do not know how to turn to speak to speak to you. I have just opened a letter from Dr. Tyndale5 telling me of your father’s6 death. At this distance, and with nothing but that piece of paper to tell me of it, it just seems incredible. I cannot believe it, much less realize it. Dear Mariel, it seems to me that I have never known of a break in a family which seemed to me so desolating. It just seemed to me, for a moment after I opened the letter, as though you were all of you gone ow out of my life for always. I cant think of your family except as all together, and it would be easier to realize any other one of you away than your father. I keep feeling that I am writing to you under some terrible mistake and that Dr. Tyndale’s letter somehow cannot mean what it seems to. In most of the families I’ve known, the father, even when he was beloved, was always a good deal of an outsider; it was easy to think of the family without him. But Mr. Gere was so much a part of everything that touched the lives of any of you, so much a part even of your friends’ lives, that it wrings my heart to think of your being for a moment without that tender and chivalrous affection. I feel that I dont want to go back to Lincoln3 any more, that I want to belive you all just as you used to be, around the fire in the library. It seems as though I could not bear to go back and miss the your father’s smile. There is no other like it in the world, none so wise or so serene or so kind. It is one of the fortunate things of my life to have known it.

Of all the ber bereavements I’ve known, Mariel, this yours seems to me greatest, and its just because I know how much you lose that I feel so helpless to speak to you. It seems irrelevant to say anything at all. Only it makes one think how beautiful an affection must have been when, so far away, one grieves so much to hear that its ties are broken. Of your dear mother7, I simply dare not think.

Dear Mariel, I ask you to think of me sometimes when you are all together, and to remember that for many years I have loved your father and every one of you 1180 MURRAY HILL AVENUEvery dearly. I wish I could be there to do what I could to help you through this hard winter. To your mother and to Neddy8 and Frances9 and you Imy love and sympathy will go out every day. How many, many people must, like me, feel drawn very close to you by their own sense of loss and pain.

Kiss your mother for me, Mariel. I have not the courage to write her now.

Miss Mariel C. Gere1 849 D Street Lincoln3 Nebraska. PITTSBURG,PA;ST. R. P. O.2 OCT 10 1904 Oct 1904
After Father's death
LINCOLN, NEBR.3 OCT 12 1904 8—AM