“Wheresoever she was, there was Eden…” (Garrison Keillor, Clint Eastwood)
NARRATOR: The family never fully recovered from the impact of Susy’s death. Livy, who had always experienced frail health, endeavored to press on despite her physical weaknesses.
TWAIN: “She could not rest. She never was intended to rest. She had the spirit of a steam engine in a frame of flesh.” (Autobiography)
NARRATOR: The Clemenses had lived in a Florentine villa before, in 1892. And in 1903 doctors advised a return to Florence when Livy’s health appeared to be worsening.
TWAIN: “It is agreed that life at a Florentine villa is an ideal existence. The weather is divine, the outside aspects lovely, the days and the nights tranquil and reposeful, the seclusion from the world and its worries as satisfactory as a dream. Late in the afternoons friends come out from the city and drink tea in the open air and tell what is happening in the world; and when the great sun sinks down upon Florence and the daily miracle begins, they hold their breaths and look. It is not a time for talk.” (Autobiography)
NARRATOR: In Florence, Clemens grew hopeful that Livy would recover, and she appeared to be getting better. And then on Sunday evening, June the fifth, 1904 he wrote:
TWAIN: “She has been dead two hours. It is impossible. The words have no meaning. But they are true; I know it, without realizing it. She was my life, and she is gone; she was my riches, and I am a pauper… Only four hours ago I sat by her bedside while Clara and Jean were at dinner, and she was bright and cheerful… Only four hours ago – and now there she lies, white and still! She was the most beautiful spirit, and the highest and the noblest I have ever known. And now she is dead… I wish I were with Livy.” (Autobiography)