Richard and Arline Feynman
I've been anxious to write to you all week. I would love to share with you a love letter from the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman to his wife Arline.
It's said that he carried this letter for two years after her death. It was worn down, folded & refolded. So, this means the letter was written but never mailed, and he had it with him for two years. A letter of love! Gives me goosebumps!!!
This is a gorgeous letter written by a person who is hard-wired for logic, yet knows that his connection to something ephemeral (her memory, her being) is real to him.
A scientist taking a logical approach to grief, and allowing himself to feel the entire ebb & flow of love, in the presence of death.
The letter leaves me wondering who this amazing woman was...
Also, it was also interesting to me, that every letter he ever wrote was addressed with name and date, even to his wife. This letter touches my heart, as I'm sure it will yours too. It may even prompt you to write a love letter to your sweetheart.
To Arline Feynman, October 17, 1946
I adore you, sweetheart … It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing. But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and what I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you.
I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector.
Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures. When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried.
Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want to stand there.
I’ll bet that you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls … and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.
My darling wife, I do adore you. I love my wife. My wife is dead,
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.