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#1553: Willa Cather to Carrie Miner Sherwood, November 3, 1941

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Carrie1:

This letter will be short because it is a sad one. I will write a better one later. I just shrink from letting you know that I cannot go to see you this Fall. I cannot leave New York2 at all. I had a terribly hard summer, and while there were many lovely things about it, I was not quite well enough to stand the strain without its telling on me. The stay in British Columbia3 was delightful, but my appetite ran down so that I dreaded to face the lunch or dinner table. We had a very long, hard trip home across Canada4. Edith5 was very ill for a week at Lake Louise6 with intestinal influenza. Things got rather worse with us, and accommodations got very much worse all the way from Lake Louise across Canada to Montreal.7 When I got back to New York I went into the French Hospital8 for a time, and my doctor9 found out that I was very anaemic. Ever since I came out of the French Hospital I have been taking three injections of liver every week and various injections preparations of iron, and I have got my blood count up from 58 to 65. Normally it was always 80 or 85. Though I feel pleased with this gain, I can't feel any real strength yet, and a very little anxiety or excitement brings on a curious kind of faintness which is very unpleasant. It is very hard for me to get back any interest in food. We have an excellent cook10 and there is a splendid market near by, but I still dread the dinner table. My breakfast and my four o'clock tea are the only things I am really keen for.

There have been incidental worries and disappointments,. whichThey ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ are always plentiful as people grow older. My relatives11 in Southern California12 are deeply hurt, I am afraid, because I did not go to see them or let them know that I was with Roscoe13, but I had just strength enough to do what I did. Nothing but Roscoe's serious illness would ever have pulled me across the continent, incapacitated as I was, last June. But I had no peace of mind until I could get to Roscoe. He is better now, and he is able to carry on his business and enjoy living - by taking very great care of himself. But his illness might have gone just the other way, and there was no place on earth where I could have had any peace of mind last summer except in San Francisco14. When I was there- - -well, I just felt at peace; "I am here, and he is here. We have both made it."

While I was there I was able at last to take the brace15 off my hand (I had worn it for eight months.). That pleased Roscoe very much. He simply hated the sight of that brace. Now my hand is a very useful member again, though I haven't yet tried to write more than short notes with it. It isn't stiff, however, only a little weak and easily tired after its long confinement.

Well now, one has to face the dreary task of trying to get really well again,. bBut I think I can make rapid improvement now that I've got a start. Mary Virginia16 is the greatest possible help and comfort. She shops for me, and she always makes me gay. Roscoe's daughter Margaret17 lives far out on Long Island18, but I love feeling that she is within call when I feel well enough to have a guest for tea. I had counted (oh, more than I can tell you!) on being with you for Thanksgiving, but I must not try to drive the engine when ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩it is so low in fuel, or I will be a dead weight to myself and to those who love me. I must just vegitate and let the empty reservoir fill up. I have to hold even my friends at a little distance just now. When one is low in vitality, even loving one's friends is almost too much for one. And there are two friends in Red Cloud19, you and Mary20, whom I would love very hard if I were there.

My visit with you is one of the things I am determined to get well for. You see my hand is quite steady now. I was destroying some old manuscripts yesterday, and I thought the handwriting of twenty-five years ago was really less clear than it is now! That was encouraging.

Lovingly Willie