It will be the 7th in less than ten minutes so I can honestly use the term ‘today” because by the time I’m done writing this entry it will be ‘today’ – the 7th. Today is the six month anniversary of Bernadette being laid to rest in Mount Ida cemetery. It is now official, cast in stone, never to change – not that we were expecting it would. But today (the 6th when I started writing this) we received word from the funeral home that Bernadette’s memorial stone had finally arrived and was put in place this afternoon. What was to take six to eight week ended up taking five months. We were told that the delay had something to do with the picture we had put on it. After getting the email that the stone was in place wild horses (or in my case a massive headache and nausea) couldn’t keep me from going into town to see it while Marc took the girls and our friends Bob and Joan to the music in the bay. Unfortunately it was too sunny and I didn’t know how to properly work Bernadette’s camera so I didn’t get the greatest pictures. I’ll try again when it’s an overcast day and upgrade the picture, but for now I just wanted to put one on the blog because it was finally in. The oval on the left side is the picture of Bernadette that was on this site for the first six months.
On the occasion of the six month anniversary of the event, I thought it was time to share the story that is closest to my heart and that I’ve told to less than a handful of people.
In the early afternoon of the 29th of January, I’d finally come to the full realization that Bernadette was going to die – and soon. Up to that point I still held out the hope of a miracle and that the Vitamin C treatments might work. But that afternoon I just knew. Bernadette had already started to slip away. After the nurses had all left and Bernadette was all cleaned up and back in her clean and dry bed, we were alone and I held her hand and told her, “Bernadette, I think Jesus is coming to take you home very soon. I have a favor to ask of you, please. When you get to heaven, can you please send me two dozen unique roses to let me know you arrived and that you are happy. Make them really unique so I’ll really know they’re from you, not the usual pink or red or yellow, but really different.” I don’t even know why I said two dozen because who gives someone two dozen roses! I only mentioned it the once. Bernadette didn’t respond and I didn’t know if she even understood. She passed away about an hour later.
The day of her funeral, while the family was gathering in the coffee room in the back of the church I was told someone had given me a bouquet of flowers but they were immediately put in the sink for safe keeping so I didn’t see them. Later when we were going to the cemetery the funeral director brought out the bouquet just in case we’d forgotten them and wanted to bring them to the cemetery. I said no, they were for me so he returned them to the kitchen.
Later that evening I finally had a chance to look at the flowers. Turns out they were two dozen beautiful and utterly perfect dark purple roses!!! The second I understood what I had in my hands I started to cry. Bernadette had fulfilled my request and had reached out to me at the most painful moment of my life with her most joyous news. She was in heaven with Jesus and yes she was happy. I think if I’d looked at the roses there in the church I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together. As it is, it’s been six months and I still can’t tell this story without shedding enough tears to fill my tear pot; I can’t imagine how I would have managed at Bernadette’s funeral. But they were there, the message was there just the same. Bernadette had reached out to let me know she was happy.
Those roses lasted an entire week without so much as a hint of wilting. By that time I wasn’t taking any more chances, I hung them upside down to dry them out so I could keep them forever. I know they’re Bernadette’s roses because of all the flower arrangements we received, only this one was two dozen roses. I didn’t even know you could buy two dozen roses in one bouquet when I made that request! They dried still looking deep purple and now they sit on the top of the bookshelf in my office where I can look at them and remember and know that Bernadette is happy. I know my faith tells me she’s happy but sometimes it’s just so nice to have a sign.
So now it’s been six months. A lot has happened in these last six months and we’ve worked out a lot of things. I no longer wake up every morning and look for Zoe’s crib in the corner as an indication that the last nine months have all been a really vivid nightmare. I also don’t wake up and relive the last month of Bernadette’s life over and over in my mind for half an hour before getting up. I also do my best not to think about her as I’m falling asleep so that I don’t start crying and wake up Marc. I don’t need to rely on mind games as often, like pretending that Marc has all three girls at the beach so my alone time is not filled with tears. I don’t cry ten times a day any more when thinking of Bernadette, it is down to one or two on good days. But some things still haven’t changed. Sitting on her bed to pray with Catherine at night while watching Zoe play is still too painful. Her room and our night time routine brings back her memory with a vengeance and I can’t stay there without crying so I have to quickly say good night to the girls and leave. I still can’t look at her picture on the wall for more than two seconds without fighting back tears and I still lose it when I hear her little voice in my head say, “Mommy it’s me, Bernadette!” (the day before she died). The bottom line is that I MISS Bernadette with every fiber of my being. I MISS HER. I MISS HER. I MISS HER. I know she’s happy with Jesus and that does make me happy, really it does, but at the same time it doesn’t change the fact that I just miss her so much that my entire being wants to burst. Sure some people can say, “you’re just feeling sorry for yourself, you should be happy because Bernadette is happy’ while others say that I’m making grief my god, but the bottom line is, and I don’t expect anyone else to ever understand it, that I miss my baby and the only thing that can heal this terrible ache and pain in my heart is to see her beautiful face again, hold her in my arms and hear her sweet voice cry out “Mommy!”
I have never been a parent, but I do understand very clearly…. “I just miss her so much that my entire being wants to burst.” This has nothing to do with feeling sorry for yourself nor with making grief anything other than what it is – excruciatingly painful.
I am sorry that you have had to bear these comments, when Bernadette’s sickness and death is itself enough to bear.
Your expression about “bursting” reminds me of a meditation that St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote in preparation for Christmas. He wrote this meditation to answer the question, Why would Jesus come to earth and be born in the flesh? Alphonsus starts the meditation with the scene of Adam and Eve being escorted out of heaven. To make a long story shorter, he then directs our attention back to God in paradise. He paints the picture of God crying – both physically crying tears, and also crying out in a loud voice as God stumbles around heaven – They are gone! My children are no longer here, close to my heart, where they belong! My paradise, my delight is to be with them….AND THEY ARE GONE! Alphonsus uses the Italian word “pazzo” roughly translated as “crazy” in love with people. The idea being, that even for God, paradise is now no longer paradise. God cannot bear to be without his children. He is being driven out of his mind with the desire to get them back.
Of course the point of the prayer is that Jesus volunteers to go to earth and bring people back to the heart of God. But my point here, is that Alphonsus would say that God, very well, and very deeply understands – dare we say from “personal experience” – this kind of grief, through which you are going.
I work an hour from home and pray for you Marc and the family, that God eases your heartache, perhaps with a clear message from her that she is ok….
Remember how you had asked Katrina before she died, to send you a rose when she got to heaven and was in
His glory…..and on day 3….you got a rose! I have never forgotten the beautiful story. And now Bernadette has also heard your request by sending you a Devine message….. roses!
You will be united with her one day. 😊
May God continue to comfort you all and bless you with with His never ending love!
Continue sharing your deepest fears, hurts, thoughts, love and question throughout your journey.
Hugs and prayers, Angela