We have met with so overwhelming an affliction in the death of our beloved Willie, a being too precious for this earth. All that human skill could do, was done for our sainted boy. I fully believe the severe illness [scarlet fever], he passed through, now, almost two years since, was but a warning to us, that one so pure, was not to remain long here and at the same time, he was lent us a little longer to try us and wean us from a world whose chains were fastening around us; and when the blow came it found us so unprepared to meet it. He has fulfilled his mission and we are left desolate. When I think over his short but happy childhood, how much comfort, he always was to me, and how fearfully I always found my hopes concentrating on so good a boy as he was - when I can bring myself to realize that he has indeed passed away, my question to myself is, can life be endured?.
-Mary Ann Todd Lincoln, From letter to to her friend and neighbor Julia Ann Spriggs in Springfield, Ill., grieving over the death of Willie, the third Lincoln son, who died of typhoid resulting from contaminated drinking water from the Potomac river., May 29, 1862