By Patti Dansereau — Jun 18, 2015 12:05pm
For the past six days Mom and Dad have been here and it’s interesting how it’s been a break from my grief in a way. Normally I’m very much alone and have too much time to just think about everything and that usually brings on tears. But with two other adults in the house to visit with, there isn’t all that solitary thinking time. On the other hand it was a little hard because when I did have thoughts of Bernadette and I couldn’t control the tears that came, I felt I had to find some place to hide and cry or quickly squelch them which caused headaches. The good thing is that nobody in this house who sees that I’ve been crying asks questions or asks if I’m okay. It’s just become a normal part of our day and everyone just accepts it. There is a freedom in that, I don’t always have to explain myself or apologize for waves of grief.
I did have a bit of a breakthrough though. Mom and Dad and I were playing a game of Aggravation, a game I grew up playing at home, and they were just going at each other like crazy, knocking each other off the board just for the sake of knocking each other off, not necessarily as a way of furthering their position. It was actually a lot of fun and a lot of laughing. It reminded me of the first month when Bernadette was home from Vancouver and we played a lot of Uno. So I shared that memory with them, how I could be totally brutal to Bernadette and give her a ‘pick up four’ after she’d given me a ‘pick up four’ so she’d give me another one and I’d give her another one so she was picking up 16 cards. Or the same with ‘pick up two’s’. But instead of crying or putting on a lip, Bernadette would smile with her eyes and mouth and wag her little finger at me and then happily pick up as many cards as was required. And she was equally brutal with me and we’d just laugh. We had so much fun playing Uno. I honestly have not had that much fun playing games with anyone else before. She never once complained about losing. BUT if she then turned around and played with Catherine she had strict expectations and Catherine had to play nice or she wouldn’t play. It was so funny. So I shared that memory and believe it or not, I didn’t once choke on my words or tear up. It was amazing because still, every time I try to recall good memories of times before her illness I instantly tear up. It’s frustrating because I’m fearful I’m going to forget all those memories if I don’t recall them but I still can’t recall them without it hurting so much. So it was way cool to share such a memory with someone else without crying.
One night we were watching the old 1968 movie “The Shoes of the Fisherman”. At one point near the end of the movie one Cardinal was telling the newly elected Pope before his coronation that he was there for the last three popes and that each one was a very lonely man. The longer he was pope the lonelier he became. The day of the pope’s coronation the same cardinal said, “Your ascent to Calvary is just beginning.” At the time my mind went back and connected it to his earlier comment about loneliness. The next morning I was thinking about those lines in the movie and about my own loneliness and how painful it is. Even with my parents here and having someone around at all times, that loneliness doesn’t go away. I can be distracted from it for brief moments, but under it the loneliness persists. And it’s not really something that can be shared because the depth of my relationship with Bernadette can’t really be shared. Then I started thinking of the cardinal’s comment about ‘Your ascent to Calvary is just beginning’ and it reminded me again of John Paul II’s letter on Suffering and Jesus’ suffering and I tried to imagine how intensely loneliness Jesus must have been after His arrest to His death. At that moment I offered Him a prayer. Whenever I feel such intense loneliness I will unite it to His loneliness and maybe just maybe it will unite us so that we’re not so alone any more. Of course He will fill my loneliness like an ocean filling a thimble and I would be filling His loneliness like a thimble filling the ocean, but still it’s a start. He’s not asking for any more because He created me a thimble and He is the ocean. If anyone understands loneliness and isolation it would be Jesus. And of everyone who could possibly enter my loneliness it would be Jesus. He would totally 100percent understand every aspect of it without my having to explain it and still feel left wanting. And it would make me more aware of what He must have gone through, even if it is a tiny glimpse.
And this isn’t just a coping trick either, like pretending that Bernadette could be with Marc and the girls which gives my mind a break from the pain of missing her by escaping back to a time when she was away from me but in a natural and temporary way. This is a new way of living and it has brought comfort over the last few days. From everything I’ve read so far about losing a child, mothers say the pain never goes away, they just get use to it. Well, uniting my pain to Jesus’ isn’t just getting use to it, it is putting it to great use.
Your words and heart encourage my heart. We all are lonely at some time and the way you have shared is truly an inspiration. Now I know what I can do when I am in that space.
Patti you write beautifully. You honour Bernadette and your faith with every word. Keep up your strength. If mum and dad are still with you say hi for me please. John.
Thank you for the inspiration today!
Thanks for sharing this good news.