Richard Feynman (1918-1988) was an influential physicist. He helped develop the atomic bomb, investigated the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and in 1965, along with two colleagues, was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in quantum electrodynamics.
In June 1945 his high school sweetheart and wife, Arline, passed away to tuberculosis at the age of 25. Sixteen months later he wrote her a letter and sealed it in an envelope. After his death in 1988 it was opened. Part of it read,
“I adore you sweetheart. I know how much you like to hear that—but I don’t only write it because you like it—I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.”
“I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I—I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone—but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.
“My darling wife, I do adore you
“I love my wife. My wife is dead.”
Following his signature he writes, “PS Please excuse my not mailing this—but I don’t know your new address.”1
On July 13, 1960 Joy (Davidman) Lewis died. C. S. Lewis was 58 when they married in 1956. Her loss was crushing. On April 8, 1961, Lewis closes a letter to Father Don Luigi Pedrollo with these words,
“I know that you pour forth your prayers both for my most dearly-long-for wife and also for me who—now bereaved and as it were halved—journey on through this Vale of Tears, alone.”2
Time does not necessarily heal all wounds.
“Asleep on my bed, night after night I dreamed of the one I love; I was looking for him, but couldn’t find him.” – Song of Solomon 3:1
- Shaun Usher, Letters of Note: an Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience (San Francisco, Chronicle Books LLC, 2014), 100.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 1253.