by Devin Brown
Letters to Malcolm was the last book C. S. Lewis finished. Published posthumously in January 1964, three months after his death, it is one of Lewis’s best books though perhaps not one of his best known. Tucked away in letter number eight is one of the most poignant short mediations on Gethsemane and its aftermath to be found in modern writing.
Lewis starts the letter to his fictitious friend by expressing sympathy over the news that Malcolm’s son George must undergo tests for what seems to be a critical health concern. Lewis writes that his first inclination is to try to provide comfort with the standard reminders that a preliminary diagnosis by a non-specialist is often wrong and that people in similar situations sometimes live to “a ripe old age.” But then Lewis recalls his own loss of his wife, Joy, a few years earlier and decides not to, explaining: “If, which God forbid, your suspense ended as terribly as mine did, these assurances would sound like mockeries.”