Well, Catherine’s big day was a success in almost every sense of the word. I say almost because there were a few challenges.
This morning at Mass Catherine’s friend Maria was wearing a blue dress that was identical to one of Bernadette’s favorite dresses and Catherine started crying. Then Maria started crying because she was making Catherine cry! Thankfully I wasn’t there to witness it all or I would have started crying too! I’d seen Maria in her pretty blue dress and of course my first thought was Bernadette. Johanna too. It’s bound to happen that different moments are going to remind us of Bernadette. We’re all just going to have to learn how to best deal with such situations. That was hurdle number one because Maria and Michael were also getting a ride into town with us for the pool party and the two girls had to sit together for the entire ride. Thankfully the difficult moments passed and trip went fine, dress and all.
Second hurdle was when we arrived at the pool at 1:00pm it turned out there was a misunderstanding and the area we’d booked and paid for two weeks ago was being used for a party that had booked the pool until 1:00pm and just assumed it included the party area afterwards. Thankfully the kids didn’t notice the hiccup and they were having a great time regardless. They all just played and had fun until 2:30pm when we had access to the party area. The minute I put the snacks out though it was like a magnet and all 16 kids were suddenly drawn to the tables and devoured every morsel of food. Then right after gifts they all quickly disappeared again into the water until it was time to go home. In the end no harm done and Catherine thought it was the best party ever.
The real blessing of the day was the wonderful moms who hung around and visited with Marc and I – and helped out of course. Whether it was conscious or unconscious it was like they all sensed how difficult it was for us to watch so many children playing and having fun (especially since they were all Bernadette’s friends too) and they all took turns talking with us and listening (and allowing me to tear up.) And in my case it wasn’t surface chatter either to take my mind off missing Bernadette. All the conversations revolved around Bernadette in some way or another or how we were doing as a family. Some of the ladies I hadn’t talked to since the funeral or even before. So that was a huge help and a huge blessing. It was only because of their kindness that we made it through the party okay. Kathryn managed to keep me engaged in conversation during the gift opening which was a diversion I needed so I didn’t have to fight back tears at the thought of Bernadette not being there among all her friends, a scenario I’d been dreading for weeks. Even Zoe was having the time of her life, she had Mrs. Bakker’s attention for the majority of the party and was in no hurry to party company when it was time to go home.
After getting through the party relatively in one piece, I was sure I’d make it through the rest of the day unscathed, but that was not to be. I was trying to have a quick nap when we got home because I was just exhausted. My mind was replaying the party as I was trying to fall asleep when it suddenly jumped back to something someone said way back when we first learned Bernadette was sick. Something to the effect of “Every mother will hug their child a little harder and longer tonight” and I suddenly realized that from the day Bernadette got sick to the day she died, I don’t remember hugging her even once. Of course that send me into a crying spell which made it impossible to fall asleep. It helped to keep telling myself that I may not remember hugging her but I kissed her a lot and rubbed her feet and legs and back and brushed her hair for hours on end and carried her upstairs and downstairs, lifted her from bed to couch to bed to chair to bath, and into and out of the stroller and car. How long will these thoughts continue to pop up and torture me? It’s not even a matter of controlling my mind either because they just happen so fast there is no real stopping them. The fight for control comes after the fact. Like Catherine seeing Maria wearing a dress identical to Bernadette’s and learning to deal with such situations, I too still need to learn to deal with these unexpected mind journeys.
Thanks for the great party Patti & family! Amber & Sienna could not stop talking about all they did, saw, and heard. It was a success!