From everything I’ve read in different books or articles about grieving and getting through the ‘special days’, Canada Day is not generally mentioned – if at all – but for us yesterday was a tough day. Catherine and Bernadette had shared on more than one occasion that Canada Day was more exciting than Christmas. Every year they eagerly anticipated Canada Day because they could sometimes go to a pancake breakfast with Daddy or go to the parade or visit the grounds where there is celebrating going on all day, and of course the fire works after dark. It’s become their favorite holiday.
Yesterday Catherine had her best Canada Day ever but for me it was the worst. And only because it was filled with regrets that were amplified by guilt. Two years ago, the girls were so excited about the parade and for some reason Bernadette was just acting up something terrible so I sent her to her room and she missed the parade. I took Catherine down to the store thinking we’d just watch the floats getting ready and then we’d come home. We ended up parking at the store and were stuck there until the parade started and passed by the store. The whole time I regretted that I didn’t bring Bernadette along because it was such a perfect spot, in the shade, with lots of room for the kids to run around and play. When we got home I promised her that next year we would do the same thing and for sure she would be with us. Well….. the next year I had an eleven week old baby and a teenager recovering from back surgery and going to the parade just wasn’t an option. Paul tried to bring them down but the parade started earlier than we thought so the girls missed it. I felt terrible yet again and told Bernadette there was always next year. We did make an extra effort to drive down to Blind Bay to have a better view of the fireworks though and they loved that. Zoe didn’t. We were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
So the next year was this year and there was no Bernadette to take to the parade. I confess, I lost count of how many times I cried throughout the day. Joseph, Johanna, and Catherine went down to the field to watch the fireworks with friends and I didn’t even bother to watch them from the deck. I just watched Zoe play and I cried. It was one of those, “at this exact time last year we were……” memory moments. I half expected it though because I’ve felt guilty about that whole parade mix-up for two years now and every time I remember something I feel guilty about when it comes to mistakes I made in raising Bernadette it brings instant tears of intense regret. I wonder if that’s part of the ‘work’ they talk about in grieving, recalling all those things we would have done differently had we only known, or forgiving ourselves for past mistakes. Forgiving oneself is definitely work!
Today was my regular every second Thursday ‘Estelle Day’ and Mass. Turns out tonight’s Mass was a Memorial Mass for Bill Douhanniuk, a very nice man from the parish who was killed two weeks ago in a car accident while visiting family in Saskatchewan. The funeral was in Saskatchewan and that’s where he was buried – at least that’s what I was told. There was no special readings, so the regular first reading was when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Our pastor talked about that reading and did something inspiring. He tried to get us to see both God’s asking Abraham to sacrifice his son and God’s sacrificing His Son through the eyes of a parent and how painful that would be. And how Jesus struggled with His passion, begging His Father three times to let the cup pass from Him. Father said we generally kind of pass over the painful parts of the stories because we already know how they turn out. Abraham doesn’t have to sacrifice Isaac and Jesus’ passion ends with the Resurrection.
But the stick I received tonight to add to the ones from last Sunday was when Father said that God doesn’t ask anything of us that He doesn’t first ask of Himself. He said that we tend to think that God doesn’t really understand our suffering and yet He does. As I sat there listening to him I felt a real sense of comfort knowing that I hadn’t been abandoned by God and left alone. It was almost the same feeling I get when I’ve visited with other moms who have lost children, that sense of solidarity in a way – only this time it was deeper and more fulfilling. After Mass I had some grocery shopping to do before heading home and I just seemed to glide through the stores with an unusual ease and then on the highway I found myself in a state of contentment I haven’t felt in over two years. And the even more amazing thing was that even when I realized it, it didn’t suddenly disappear like a whiff of smoke that was smothered by a blanket of guilt.
I am so glad that your post ended on a positive note. I support you on forgiving yourself . Yes, it is hard work but the BEST work you can do for yourself and others. Be gentle with yourself Patti. Love, Patricia