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.