A man's house burns down. The smoking wreckage represents only a ruined home that was dear through years of use and pleasant associations. By and by, as the days and weeks go on, first he misses this, then that, then the other thing. And when he casts about for it he finds that it was in that house. Always it is an essential--there was but one of its kind. It cannot be replaced. It was in that house. It is irrevocably lost.... It will be years before the tale of lost essentials is complete, and not till then can he truly know the magnitude of his disaster.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835–1910), U.S. author. Autobiography, ch. 66, ed. Charles Neider (1959).
Twain was writing of the death of his daughter Susie Clemens of meningitis, Aug. 18, 1896, explaining how "a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live.... It will take mind and memory months and possibly years to gather together the details and thus learn and know the whole extent of the loss."