For the past few weeks we’ve been having the main floor painted so all our pictures and calendars are off the walls, the furniture is in the middle of the rooms, and the dining room table is covered with the family crucifix, years worth of dried palms, knick knacks, and nails. With the calendars down, I haven’t been focusing on specific dates, but have a general sense that it was this time last year that we were in Vancouver for almost three weeks with Bernadette and it’s been a mental walk down memory lane every day.
Yesterday though Joseph asked for a picture of Bernadette, a copy of the one on our wall that was taken when she was four, almost five and it brought me back to the present day. He said it was one of his favorites and she hadn’t changed much since it was taken. I just so happened to have quite a few actually since we’d gone to Wal-Mart to have it taken and we had to get the whole package. We only wanted the 8×10 but got all the 5×7’s, 4×6’s, and wallet sizes. So I went hunting for the pictures to give him one. My first thought was that the pictures would be in her baby box as I didn’t know where else I’d store them, so I rushed up there two minutes before supper and did a quick search, knowing that if I was in a hurry I wouldn’t be able to linger and of course start crying. It worked for the most part. Came down for supper with only a few tears but didn’t find the pictures.
After supper the real hunt began. After going through Bernadette’s baby box a second time, Catherine’s baby box, my forever box, and a few other picture boxes I was at my wits end as to where I could have put the pictures. So I sat on my closet floor and just asked Bernadette for help. A few minutes later, after looking in two boxes I’d already looked in, I had the idea to look in my filing cabinet. Not thinking I’d really find them there, I looked anyway to leave no stone unturned. Sure enough there they were! Thank you, Bernadette. St. Anthony, I think you might have just been replaced. ha ha
Unfortunately the victory in finding the pictures was totally overshadowed by something I’d discovered during the search as I went through Bernadette’s baby book. For nine months now I’ve wondered when I’d have the courage to finish the last few entries to complete her baby book. Did you know that baby books don’t have a special page for death certificates? They have one for birth certificates, baptismal certificates, and some of mine for the three bigger kids have a spot for First Communion and Confirmation certificates. But no spot for death certificates. But that’s not what I discovered that threw me for a loop, it was the fact that I’d barely even started Bernadette’s baby book!!!! I had no idea. I know Zoe is now almost 19 months old and I haven’t started her baby book yet, but I had it in my mind that Bernadette’s was almost completed. For someone who is faithful in completing baby books, it was quite the shock. I do have a little notebook with all the important dates and mile stones, the two teeth she lost last December, clipping of her first hair cuts/trims, and all that kind of stuff. Obviously I never got around to organizing all the information and putting it into her book. It’s quite the shock to think I was struggling to muster up the courage to complete the book, and now I face the daunting task of pretty much doing the book from scratch.
I don’t normally put a lot of stock in coincidences, but this discovery happened on the ninth month anniversary of Bernadette’s passing – the nine months it takes to have a baby, when one would generally start a baby book. For the past couple weeks I’d been noticing that with all the pictures off the walls and the calendars down it was a little break from the in my face reminds. On the one hand it has been kind of nice because it’s been a break from the tension of those constant reminders (not that there aren’t a whole lot of other ones around the house), but on the other hand it’s been a bit terrifying in the sense that it’s been ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and I was asking myself just the other day if I need all the reminders in my face every day lest I forget to think about Bernadette. But in the still of last night, without any visual reminders, it still came to me just the same that it had been nine months since we lost her.
Depending on how close we were to a person who has died, for most people nine months is a long time and we’ve generally come to terms with the person’s passing, but when that person is as close as a spouse, parent, sibling, or child, that same nine months can be but a week.