Today is another painful first and it has been torturing me all week. Today being Catherine’s 10th birthday. Last week we were making the plans for her party and then I walked into the kitchen and just cried on Marc’s shoulder. I couldn’t stop thinking of how Bernadette missed her first party and how much she was excited about Catherine’s upcoming party too. One of her favorite things to do is to watch people open presents, that’s the main reason she wanted to go to Sienna’s party in January, to watch her open her gifts. Needless to say it’s been hard trying to focus on Catherine and not on what isn’t going to be.
Last night Joseph, Johanna, and I watched “Escape Plan” and I found myself thinking that I can very much relate to the main character in a way. He’s a prisoner on a giant boat in the middle of the ocean with no escape. His job was to escape from prisons thereby showing weaknesses in their systems, but this time he’s not there ‘on the job’ like he though, he’s been betrayed and is there as a prisoner who is now fighting for his life in what appears to be an inescapable prison. I could relate because I feel very much like I’m in a moving prison with no escape. Oh sure, so much around me appears to be the same but as I reach out to touch it and it zaps me like an invisible force field. Even a walk around the neighbourhood brings pain and screams out that Bernadette is not here to enjoy it with us like she use to. Last night Catherine and Marc pointed out a ‘swirly tree’ that Bernadette loved to point out. I’d never seen it before. Whenever we go somewhere as a family it is absolute torture because I’m forced to face the reality that our family is no longer whole. At home I can almost believe that Bernadette could be somewhere playing so this immediate situation could be real. But when we’re out all together away from the house there is no ‘it’s possible’ thought to protect my mind from seeing the fact that she really is gone from us.
All week I’ve had to fight from letting my mind wander into the unbearable future. I don’t know how people can live with this kind of torture year in and year out, I really don’t. I had to keep telling myself, ‘I can get through today. Just focus on today. Don’t look to tomorrow, don’t go there. Just breath and get through this next hour.’ Marc and I were talking about it yesterday and admitting it really does change a person. Life just doesn’t hold the same meaning as before. On the surface it all appears to be relatively the same, but just scratch the surface and you see that underneath there is a giant hollow – a hollow that nothing can fill except God. It’s like the man on the prison boat, everything inside me screams to escape this new reality even though I know there is no escape. And like the prison guards and warden who tortured the prisoners at will, I too am tortured at will by guilt, longing, and memories. In the house there are memories and signs of Bernadette’s presence everywhere so the temptation is to escape, move, start new where no memories can torture us at every turn. But away from home all I want to do is rush home again to where she spent most of her time and of course her last days.
Yesterday we went to Mass in Salmon Arm and on the surface it was so much easier than going at home in Blind Bay. The parish has changed. New parishioners, young families, and lots of little kids and babies everywhere. It was easy to get lost in the newness and for a time I wasn’t tortured by memories of what was, what wasn’t, and what could have been. But when we went down for coffee all the newness turned into tortured thoughts and memories when I couldn’t help but notice how kids Catherine and Bernadette played with for years were all growing up and having fun together but Bernadette wasn’t in the midst of them enjoying their company. There is no escape! There is no winning at this game called life!!!!
I pray that you will be able to be present at Catherine’s birthday celebration to enjoy the gift of her and when Bernadette pops into your mind smile and acknowledge her presence. For you know she will be there too. Love & hugs, Patricia
I am sorry you are going through torture that is so ….??? I don’t think I have words to match what you are going through. I am sure the words you use here, likely pale in comparison to what you feel. I am sorry.
I continue to be with you in Spirit.
Fr. David Purcell