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Note: this and other letters, diary entries, and essays by Ida Craddock are included in the new book, Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic: The Essential Ida Craddock by Vere Chappell.

Ida Craddock's Letter to her Mother on the Day of her Suicide

New York, Oct. 16, 1902

Dear, Dear Mother:

I know you will grieve over me for having taken my life.... My dear, dear mother, oh, how sorry I am to hurt you, as I now this act will do. But, oh, mother, I cannot, I will not consent to go to the asylum, as you are evidently planning to have me go. I know that this means a perpetual imprisonment all my long life, unless I either recant my religious beliefs or else hypocritically pretend to do so. I cannot bring myself to consent to any of these three alternatives. I maintain my right to die as I have lived, a free woman, not cowed into silence by any other human being. If, on the other hand, the prison to which Judge Thomas evidently proposes to send me were to be my destined lot (you know very well that he wishes and means to lock me up for a long, long term, which is practically my death warrant), my work is ended so far as this world is concerned. My books have been given a start, approved by physicians and other reputable citizens, but the world is not yet ready for all the beautiful teachings which I have to give it. Other people will take up my work, however, some day--will take it up where I laid it down, and will start from where I left off and do better work than they could have done but for me. Some day you'll be proud of me. You will understand that what I have done has been done because you and my father prepared me for just such a propaganda to humanity. You may ask why I did not give it up and come home to live with you, resuming my name of "Miss Craddock," and taking up other work. But, dear mother, I could be of no possible help to you, with the shadow of reproach which bigots and impure-minded people have put on me. I should be only a hindrance to your respectability. Moreover, my individuality has some rights. I cannot recant my beliefs and throw aside a principle for which I have toiled and struggled for nine years, even at the behest of a mother that is dear to me.

Do not grieve, dear, dear mother; the world beyond the grave, believe me, is far more real and substantial than is this world in which we to-day live. This earth life which the Hindoos have for centuries termed "Maya," that is illusion. My people assure me that theirs is the real, the objective, the material world. Ours is the lopsided, the incomplete world. You and I shall meet in that beautiful world over there and shall know each other as individuals just as clearly as we do here, only more so. I do not know whether it will be possible for me to return to you; but if I can, I will do so. Only remember that you must try to keep the five rules for clear thinking and correct living which my people have given me. If I do come back, of this I feel sure. As you may have forgotten these, I am going to give them here again:
  1. Do your daily earthly duty undeterred by calls to mediumship from any source.
  2. Be self-controlled and strive to be amiable and loving every day.
  3. Wait and watch for the highest.
  4. Avoid selfish seeking of self-ease.
  5. Abide in purity, not merely moral purity, but physical cleanliness; and still more, intellectual clearness--that is freedom from prejudice; think clearly.

Love all people, even those who have wronged you, if you would receive clear communications from over the border. It is possible that I may come as I have said. I do not know. But in any event, it cannot be long before you will join me over here, and I shall be on hand to welcome you, dear, dear mother, when you do come.

Oh, if only you could have brought yourself to have let me live at home to carry on my propaganda under your modifying advice, then this need never have been, and I could have lived for many years to carry on a moderate, far less crudely radical propaganda than I have done. I have had nobody to stand by me and to help me; I have had to carve out my own road without any predecessors to guide me.

You will find $40 in my trunk. I have written to Mr. Chamberlain to-night to tell you just where I have placed it. I do not know who may read this letter before you get it, and so have taken this precaution.

Will you mind expressing the various books I addressed here to-night? As you know, I have been unable to get out to-day to send them off as I hoped to do. For there is an Adams Express Company on this street, several doors this side of Fifth avenue.

Dear, dear mother, please remember that I love you, and that I shall always love you. Even if you get fantastic communications from the border land, remember that the real Ida is not going there.

The real Ida, your own daughter, loves you and waits for you to come soon over to join her in the beautiful blessed world beyond the grave, where Anthony Comstocks and corrupt judges and impure-minded people are not known. We shall be very happy together some day, you and I, dear mother; there will be a blessed reality for us both at last. I love you, dear mother; never forget that. And love cannot die; it is no dream, it is a reality. We shall be the individuals over there that we are here, only with enlarged capacities. Goodbye, dear mother, if only for a little while. I love you always. I shall never forget you, that would be impossible; nor could you ever forget me. Do not think the next world an unsubstantial dream; it is material, as much so as this; more so than this. We shall meet there, dear mother. Your affectionate daughter,

Ida C. Craddock.