From Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, on “Decoration Day” at the gravesite of Athey Keith, Jayber’s friend and Della’s husband:
I said, “Hello, Della.”
She ignored my greeting, seeming, in speaking to me, just to go on with her thoughts. “Well, Jayber, it’s odd the things we do. I know he’s not here. Or, anyhow, I don’t feel that he is. He seems more gone from here than anywhere. And yet I come here, and I think of him. I can’t do anything for him where I think he is. I do what I can. Those are pretty peonies, don’t you think?”
“They’re beautiful,” I said.
Her eyes had a glaze of tears that did not fall. I was touched entirely by the look of her and the sound of her voice. I said, “Della, are you all right?”
She said, “There are leftovers, Jayber. There are things I did or said that I wish I hadn’t, and things I didn’t do or say that I wish I had. When he finaly got free of his sickness and awful clumsiness there at the last, I was glad, and yet I was sorry I was glad, and yet I miss him. But am I all right? Yes, I am all right. You know, Jayber, Athey never knew his mother.”
She went her way, then, and left me standing there still as a stone, all filled to running over with the force of what she had put in my mind.
It was the thought of Heaven. I thought an unimaginable thought of something I could almost imagine, of a sound I could not imagine, of a sound I could not imagine but could almost hear: the outcry when a soul shakes off death at last and comes into Heaven. I don’t speak of this because I “know” it. What I know is that shout of limitless joy, love unbound at last, our only native tongue.