Mortality

Room service found him writing when they brought him coffee the next morning. He added the following to his letter to Lotte:

“So this is the last time, the last time I’m opening these eyes. They’ll never — they’ll never see the sun again, a bleak, cloudy day is hiding it. Well, go ahead, Nature, mourn! Your son, your friend, your beloved is nearing his end. Lotte, there’s nothing like this feeling, but the closest thing is coming out of a dream — telling yourself: this is the last morning. The last! Lotte, I can’t wrap my head around that word: the last! I mean, I’m sitting here now, totally alive, right? and tomorrow I’ll be lying stretched out and limp on the floor. Dying! what does that mean? See, we’re clueless, when we talk about death. I’ve seen a lot of people die; but as humans we have such a limited sense of things that we can’t wrap our heads around our own beginning and end. And now mine — yours! Yours, oh my love! And for a moment — separated, parted — maybe for ever? — no, Lotte, no — how can I be gone? How can you be gone? We ARE! — “gone!” — what does that mean? That’s just a word again, an empty sound, that doesn’t mean anything real to me. —— Dead, Lotte! Stuffed into the cold earth — so cramped! so dark! — I had a girlfriend once, who made my stupid teenage life worthwhile — she died, and I followed her corpse and stood by the grave while they lowered the coffin in and pulled the ropes thrummingly out from under it, then dumped in the first shovel of earth, and the terrible box made a dull thump, then duller and duller, until it was finally covered! — I collapsed beside the grave — seized up, shattered, manic, shredded inside, but I had no concept of what was happening to me — what would happen to me — Dying! Grave! I DON’T UNDERSTAND THESE WORDS!

I’m so sorry! I’m sorry! Yesterday! I should have just died on the spot. Oh, you angel! For the first time, for the first time with no doubt at all, the joyful feeling glowed right through me: she loves me! She loves me! I can still feel, burning on my lips, the holy fire that flowed from yours — new, warm joy is in my heart. I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

Ahh, I knew you loved me, knew it from the first soulful glances, from the first hug, and still, whenever I was away again, or when I saw Albert by your side, I gave up again in anxious despair.

Do you remember the flowers you gave me that one time after that terrible party, where you couldn’t say anything to me, couldn’t reach out to comfort me? Oh, I spent half the night on my knees in front of them, and I felt so sure they proved you loved me. But — ahh! These certainties fade away, just like the sense of the mercy of God Almighty fades from the soul of the believer, even when it’s been shown to him with all the fullness of heaven in sacred, unambiguous signs.

But that’s all transient — no eternity will extinguish the glowing life that I tasted yesterday on your lips, that I feel inside me! She loves me! This arm held her, these lips shivered on her lips, this mouth trembled on her mouth. She is mine! You are mine! Yes, Lotte — forever.

And so what if Albert’s your husband? Husband! In this world — and so in this world it’s a sin for me to love you, for me to want to tear you out of his arms into mine? Sin? Fine, and I’m punishing myself for it; I’ve tasted it in all its heavenly bliss, that sin, I’ve sucked down healing and strength into my heart. From this moment on, you’re mine! Mine, oh Lotte! I’m passing on! Going to my Father, to your Father. I’ll cry to Him about it and He’ll comfort me until you come and I run over to you and take you in my arms and stay with you in His eternal gaze in your arms forever.

I’m not dreaming, I’m not crazy! This close to death, I’m seeing clearer. We will BE! We’ll see each other again! See your mother! I’m going to see her, I’ll find her, ahh, and pour out my whole heart in front of her! Your mother, your second self…”

Around 11 am, Werther texted Albert asking whether he was back from his trip. Albert wrote back, yes, he’d just driven back in. Then Werther texted him: “Hey, I’m about to take a trip — could I borrow your pistols like we talked about? Be well!”

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