Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Dramatic Ending

I finished my book late last night---sometime after midnight. It's a biography. I knew how it was going to end. Still, as I got closer to the end, Misia's health deteriorating, I grew sadder and sadder.

Then, completely surprised, I read this on the second to last page and I sat straight up in bed:

"[Paul] Claudel's Journal, October 15, 1950
...Late in the afternoon Misia stopped speaking. Shortly afterward, all the friends left. Gradually Misia's breathing grew weaker and weaker; then, very late at night, it quietly stopped."
 
I was reading about Misia's death very late at night on October the 15th, 2012, exactly 62 years later. 
 
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Almost five years before Misia's death, Paul Claudel wrote Misia the following beautiful letter upon learning of Misia's husband's death:
 
"December 14, 1954

Dear Misia,
...I did not know that Sert had occupied so large a place in my heart.
I wept all night. And then the good Lord, slowly and paiently, in His own way, began to explain things to me, and I in turn should like to explain them to you.
 
Dear Misia, do you remember the day when I came to lunch at Sert's and he was late? And suddently he came in with a kind of shimmering light on his face. he had a sheet of paper in his hand. It was the sublime front curtain he had sketched for Le Soulier de Satin. His hands were still black with charcoal. And I I looked with emotion and respect at those hands which so many materpieces have sprung.
 
And I think now: when he appears before God, when the Holy Virgin presents him to Her Son, he has only to show Him those blackened hands, those worker's hands, those generous hands, those radiant hands, and to say, 'This is what I have made of the hands with which You have extended my eyes, my brain, my heart.'
 
Dear Misia, what does it matter after all? We do not have so much longer to live, you and I. Between him and us there is no longer such a distance, such a path to travel, however bitter, however desolate it may be for you; I understand it---poor friend. For the moment, the veil that separates us from him is impenetrable. But we too, thank God, have the faith that has been the strength, the greatness, the light, the raison de'etre of this beneficent and heroic destiny.
 
We know that where he is now, there is a greater awareness, a greater love, and a greater need than there has ever been. There is a secret understanding between us and him such as life was unable to give; there is something that, from now on, enables us always to be as one with him. There is a certain profoundly moving radiance of intermingling waves.
 
May God bless you. I do not ask that He dry your tears. Tears are sweet when one loves.
 
A bientot,
P. Cl."
 
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Goodbye, Misia! There is certainly a profoundly moving radiance of intermingling waves. The story of your life has forever altered my own. 

3 comments:

Sweetwater Designs said...

I've always admired those who have the ability to stir our emotions with words..isn't that a really great talent? words only.
So beautiful Melanie..thank you for posting this selection. I will look for the book.

Deborah

Sweetwater Designs said...

Do you know how to pronounce her name Melanie?

Melanie-Pearl said...

D! Sorry I didn't see this until now. I looked up the pronunciation and I think it's mISHa. If you can't find the book and I need to mail my copy to Israel, just let me know. :) So glad you enjoyed the post. Sometimes I feel so starved for that time period/the interactions between those artists...it helps to know others are interested in it, too.