Skip to main content

#3052: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, June 21, 1938

More about this letter…
Plain view:

Guide to Reading Letter Transcriptions

Some of these features are only visible when "plain text" is off.

Textual Feature Appearance
passage deleted with a strikethrough mark deleted passage
passage deleted by overwritten added letters overwritten passage
passage added above the line passage with added text above
passage added on the line passage with added text inline
passage added in the margin passage with text added in margin
handwritten addition to a typewritten letter typed passage with added handwritten text
missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
notes written by someone other than Willa Cather Note in another's hand
printed letterhead text printed text
text printed on postcards, envelopes, etc. printed text
text of date and place stamps stamped text
passage written by Cather on separate enclosure. written text
⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My darling Sister1:

There is nothing I can say — nothing I can say at all. When Edith3 told me she had bad news for me, I thought of almost every one in the family — but except Douglass4. Nothing in my life has ever hit me so hard. Father's5 death and Mother's6 seemed natural. They had lived out their lives, but this seems unnatural altogether, and I cannot get used to it or feel reconciled to it. Anyone so full of the joy of life, and so full of energy and hope — no, I can't seem to accept it7 at all. A good deal of the time I cannot believe it's true.

One thing I do feel humbly grateful for, that it was so quick, that he died without the consciousness of dying.

I hoped that you would not undertake the long journey to California8,; that you would feel reconciled to remember him as you saw him last, but I did not write or wire you because I think in such matters one has to decide for oneself.

I was grateful to Roscoe9 for letting me know the hour of the service. Since it took place at two o'clock there10, it was six o'clock11 here2. I wanted to spend that hour in a church, but was unable to find any Episcopalian Church which would be open at that hour. They close at six. So I went to the Church of the Dominican Fathers12, which is only a few blocks from this house13 and where I have quite often gone for service. The Catholics seem to be the only people who realize that in this world grief goes on all night, as well as all day, and they have a place for it to hide away and be quiet.

Now, my dear, for your sake and for mine, do not try to write me about your trip out there or about the services, or very much about the family meeting. ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ It would be too hard on you to write, and on me to read. We are, both of us, so deeply torn and moved by such things, and I do not want to ask you to go through the ordeal of writing to me. It will only make the wound bleed again — I mean bleed afresh. It will always be there for both of us, that wound. Nothing that has ever happened to me has hurt me or discouraged me like this.