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Jeff Buckley
B. 11.17.66 Anaheim, California / D. 5.29.97 Memphis, Tennessee

But her favourite occupation was the dressing of the dead. She performed this task with a peculiar enthusiasm, as though it were a special ritual, incomprehensible to others. She contended that a dead man lives a definite, though mysterious life in which he is helpless and above all lonely, and she took it upon herself to comfort him in this loneliness. She herself washed every dead man, dressed and placed him in the coffin, read the psalm book over him, and sobbed disconsolately. Having done all this, she would display not only pity but a certain pride. Walking back a few steps she would gaze with admiration on the results of her handiwork. Sometimes, while working, her lips moved and by the expression of her face one could surmise that she was chiding or tenderly reproaching the dead man. Her psychology interested me. I asked her several times how she could cry over every one.

“But how can I help it! Think only of the many trials the poor soul has to go through in the other world and all alone! So I am helping him with my tears,” she replied reproachfully, throwing a tender glance at the coffin. Then all of a sudden her tone would change and she would ask for my praise: “Now, Your Highness, doesn’t he look handsome?”

Special guest contributor Claudia Mackie; text from “Education of a Princess: A Memoir by Marie, Grand Duchess of Russia” (1930)

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