I'll start with a letter.

There remained to me at least something salvaged from the wreck of last year: a most brilliant man, and ... one great in action and counsel ... who after numerous proofs of his virtue became very dear to me, and seemed worthy of your friendship as well as mine. ... [displaying] loyalty and good fellowship, and that friendship which lies in sharing good and bad fortune and baring the hidden places of the heart in a trusting exchange of secrets. How much he loved you, how much he longed to see you - you whom he could see only with the eyes of imagination. How much he worried about your safety during this shipwreck of the world. I was amazed that a man unknown to him could be so much loved. ... And this man (I speak it with many tears, and would speak it with more but my eyes are drained by previous misfortunes and I should save some tears for whatever may befall in the future), this man, I say, was suddenly seized by the pestilence which is now ravaging the world. This was at dusk, after dinner with his friends, and the evening hours that remained he spent talking with us, reminiscing about our friendship and shared concerns. He passed the night in extreme pain, which he endured with an undaunted spirit, and then died suddenly the next morning. None of the now-familiar horrors were abated ...

Go, mortals, sweat, pant, toil, range the lands and seas to pile up riches you cannot keep; glory that will not last. The life we lead is a sleep; whatever we do, dreams. Only death breaks the sleep and wakes us from dreaming. I wish I could have woken before this.

Written by Francesco Petrarch to Louis Heyligen, in May 1349, during the Black Death in Europe.