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TO MARGARET DENEKE: On the death of her husband, Paul Benecke, Lewis’s old history tutor and a Fellow at Magdalen College.

3 October 1944

It will give me great pleasure to come to lunch at one o’clock on Oct. 30th. I will not try to express my sympathy to Miss Benecke when we meet—such things are often merely embarrassing. You, I am sure, will not doubt that she has it.

The gap in College is terrible. Already (and yet it is only a few days) I have twice found myself setting aside a problem ‘to ask Benecke about it’ and then realised with a pang that there is no more of that. His image haunts every room in Magdalen. I hear his imagined voice again and again: so vividly, when crossing Magdalen bridge this morning, that I almost wondered if there were not some objective reality in the experience. I can hardly explain how his funeral affected me. I have heard that service read in that chapel so often for those who have not believed a word of it and who (had they been alive) would have mocked, that my feeling was almost one of relief. Here at last was a dead man not unworthy of the service. In some queer way it enormously strengthened my faith, and before we filed out of chapel I really felt (do not misunderstand me) a kind of joy—a feeling that all was well, just as well as it could be.

I count it among my great good fortunes to have known him. As far as human eyes can judge he was—is—a saint: but oh!, we still needed him here so very badly.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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