I’ve spent the last two days trying to post a copy of Bernadette’s memorial card with no luck. Guess I’ll have to get Marc’s expertise to help convert the file to a jpg. so I can upload it.
Most of our family and friends have returned home now. Marc’s siblings, nieces, nephew, and Aunt Ruth left this morning. My parents are here until Thursday afternoon. My cousin, Jason, is also here and Catherine is enjoying his company immensely – which is good.
Yesterday before going to Mass I was sitting here in the living room feeding Zoe and running the events of the last couple days over again in my mind, seeing everyone’s faces, remembering comments made/tears shed, and trying to make some sense of it all. I know this process will continue for days, months, even years, and I probably won’t be any closer to an answer until it’s my turn to ask God in person but it won’t stop me from trying.
All through the funeral the thought that kept coming to me was that if Bernadette hadn’t gotten sick we never would have written the blog to keep everyone updated, thousands of people wouldn’t have been praying, and we wouldn’t all be gathered to fill the church for her funeral. She would still be a shy little girl whom people would list – or forget to list- when mentioning how many children we had. She’d be known to her small circle of friends but everyone’s life would go on as it always had. But she did get sick and everything changed. People who knew her as a very shy but cute little girl were heart broken and suddenly made aware of the frailty of this life. I doubt there was one person who learned about Bernadette who didn’t immediately and constantly pray for her. We received countless comments on how her illness changed their lives, strengthened their faith, or made them want to become a better person. But the most staggering comment was from Fr. George who said with certainty that we don’t need to be praying FOR Bernadette any more but TO her and asking her to pray for us!
Yesterday the Scripture passage popped into my head: “A grain of wheat remains but a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains.” John 12:24
Bernadette’s dying changed not only the lives of her family but everyone who knew her, read about her, or heard about her. One mom wrote, “thank you for sharing her life with all of us, thank you for raising a saint that will be with [my son] in his painful shyness, it is an incredible gift to him and to me”. Another mom told me that it has strengthened her family’s faith and her kids now personally know someone who is in heaven with Jesus, someone they can ask to pray for them and know that she cares for them personally. As gut wrenchingly painful as it may be for me, her mother, I understand that Bernadette no longer belongs to me, to us. God gifted us with her for a very short time, but she was always His and forever will be. And now she also belongs to the entire Church – to all God’s people. Now so many people can say, “I’ve met a Saint and she’s praying for me!” Bernadette is no longer a single grain but she has been dropped into the ground (literally!!!!!) and will produce many grains.
As I walk through my house and see all Bernadette’s belongings, her pink coats in the hall closet, her shoes on the racks, her art on the walls, her desk filled with unfinished projects, all her favorite toys and movies, the thought that she will be more of a blessing for all of us in heaven than being with us here brings little/no consolation to this mother’s shattered heart, but one day it will. One day.