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To the Good Land [RIP Käthe Recheis]

June 2, 2015

s100_8378 Taraxacum officinale

“You can’t call them any more, To,” Starsister said. “They have gone to Kaam.”

“To the good land?” Itsi asked.

“Yes, to the good land.”

– Käthe Recheis, Wolfsaga

Käthe Recheis’ Wolfsaga is not only one of my favourite books, it was also, as far as I can remember, the first one that made me cry. I first read it more than half my life ago, and I still can’t get through some of the scenes without tearing up.

So it seems sort of fitting that I felt like crying when I heard that she died a few days ago, on May 29th. And the above quote hasn’t stopped running through my head since.

The time when I fell in love with Wolfsaga was also, as far as I can remember, the time I lost my belief in the teachings of the Catholic church, and looking back now, that book, with its message of balance and respect for everything that lives, became a replacement religion of sorts. Kaam, the good land, certainly felt just as valid an idea of the afterlife as Heaven and Hell… possibly more so.

I’m glad I wrote her a letter while I could – I’m glad I told her what her writing meant to me (or at least attempted to – it’s always hard to put the whole of it into words) and I’m grateful I could tell her something that was interesting and meaningful to her.

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Sometimes, I tried to imagine the Heaven in which he was now. The chaplain had told us the afterlife was a mystery that no human could comprehend. Aunt Steffi believed that Heaven was full of angels singing and playing the harp. I imagined a Heaven that also had cats and flowering weeds – a Heaven like Berni’s father would have wanted.

– Käthe Recheis, Lena

I seem to be remembering all the quotes about death now. Lena is another book that makes me cry, still, and probably always. But this quote also makes me smile, because this idea of Heaven is one I like.

“I’m not afraid of dying,” Christoph said. “But I like living so much.”

– Käthe Recheis, Lena

This has been my attitude towards death for a long time. And I hope that Ms Recheis could live and die with the same attitude. I hope that whatever version of the Good Land she has gone to, she could go there without fear and regrets, I hope she could go there feeling at peace with herself and everyone else and the world.

Goodbye, Ms Recheis, and thank you for your words. You were the most meaningful person I’ve never met.


(Goodbye, also to my grandfather, who died a few weeks ago. I’m sorry I didn’t know you better, Opa, but I’m grateful I did know you. I’m sorry I didn’t understand until your funeral what I could learn from you, but I’m grateful you were one of the foundation stones of our family. What we have is pretty rare and precious. Thank you.)

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