Monday, November 22, 2010

The Blank And Light That Follow Death

From the last pages of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, faithful reflections on death and Resurrection:
Oh! it is hard to take to heart the lesson that such deaths will teach, but let no man reject it, for it is one that all must learn, and is a mighty, universal Truth. When Death strikes down the innocent and young, for every fragile form from which he lets the panting spirit free, a hundred virtues rise, in shapes of mercy, charity, and love, to walk the world, and bless it. Of every tear that sorrowing mortals shed on such green graves, some good is born, some gentler nature comes. In the Destroyer's steps there spring up bright creations that defy his power, and his dark path becomes a way of light to Heaven.
And on the grieving of Nell's unnamed grandfather, who is thought to have experienced something of what Dickens himself did on the death of his beloved sister-in-law a few years before he wrote the novel:
If there be any who have never known the blank that follows death -- the weary void -- the sense of desolation that will come upon the strongest minds, when something familiar and beloved is missed at every turn -- the connection between inanimate and senseless things, and the object of recollection, when every household god becomes a monument and every room a grave -- if there be any who have not known this, and proved it by their own experience, they can never faintly guess how, for many days, the old man pined and moped away the time, and wandered here and there as seeking something, and had no comfort. Whatever power of thought or memory he retained, was all bound up in her.

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