Last Sunday's Sunday Times had a section on the cover of their News Review called "Letters We Love". Below is a letter from Charlotte Brontë; I defy you not to have a tear in your eye after reading it.
(author of Jane Eyre) to her publisher WS Williams, just 1 week after the death of her sister Emily Brontë (author of Wuthering Heights) from tuberculosis:
25 December 1848
Emily is nowhere here now, her wasted mortal remains are taken out of the house. We have laid her cherished head under the church aisle beside my mother's, my two sisters'--dead long ago--and my poor, hapless brother's. But a small remnant of the race is left - so my poor father thinks.
Well, the loss is ours, not hers, and some sad comfort I take, as I hear the wind blow and feel the cutting keenness of the frost, in knowing that the elements bring her no more suffering; their severity cannot reach her grave; her fever is quieted, her restlessness soothed, her deep, hollow cough is hushed for ever; we do not hear it in the night nor listen for it in the morning; we have not the conflict of the strangely strong spirit and the fragile frame before us--relentless conflict--once seen, never to be forgotten. A dreary calm reigns round us, in the midst of which we seek resignation.
My father and my sister Anne are far from well. As for me, God has hitherto most graciously sustained me; so far I have felt adequate to bear my own burden and even to offer a little help to others. I am not ill; I can get through daily duties, and do something towards keeping hope and energy alive in our mourning household.
Charlotte Brontë: born 21 April 1816; died 31 March 1855, aged 38
September 1821: mother Maria died, from cancer
June 1825: elder sisters Maria + Elizabeth both died, from tuberculosis
September 1848: brother Branwell died, possibly tuberculosis)
December 1848: sister Emily died, from pulmonary tuberculosis)
May 1849: sister Anne died, from pulmonary tuberculosis)
With Anne's death, only Charlotte's father was left alive in her near family
Make sure to wring every drop of goodness out of each day, and try not to be petty. We are a long time dead, so try to make the most of each day.
--------- Alex Kemp