An Answer to the question about Grace

By Patti Dansereau — Jan 29, 2016 3:55am

Sunday after Mass a lady came up to my friend and I and was excited to share the news of the sale of her house.  In explaining how everything worked out she gave God all the credit for how He arranged every detail perfectly.   I confess that at the time in my heart I questioned whether she wasn’t giving God a little more credit than was due to Him because it was a struggle to listen to her give God so much praise and think He was so wonderful because He answered her prayers when His answer to our fervent prayers was to take Bernadette home instead of healing her so she would still be with us today.   Were we talking about the same wonderful God?

That interaction has been playing in my mind ever since.  Then tonight I had my usual biweekly “Estelle Day” and we were remembering 52 weeks ago today and all the details that fell into place for that moment when Bernadette died.  Estelle offered to come to our house for our usual Thursday coffee time because she just felt she should.  Marc offered for us to go out for coffee here in Blind Bay somewhere and he would stay with Bernadette but something in me said I should stay.  As it turned out, it was while we were visiting, with Bernadette between us and as I rubbed her legs and arms, that Bernadette quietly slipped away.   The other incredible detail was that everyone was home except Paul and Christina and that Marc’s parents were even here, they had popped in for a quick visit.  As I look back, the entire afternoon was arranged so perfectly and answered so many spoken and unspoken prayers.  It was Marc’s prayer that I be present with Bernadette when she returned to the Father’s kingdom.  I thought about praying for that too a few times but didn’t dare because I was still fervently praying for a miracle of healing.  There are a lot of parents who lose their children, but not as many who have the experience of being right there holding their child; to witness death so close as to watch that last breath leave their child’s body and yet through Marc’s prayers God granted me that precious gift.    Maybe it was Bernadette’s unspoken prayer too!  We won’t know until we see her again.

Tonight as Estelle and I recalled how grateful we were to be present at Bernadette’s side together, it made me think of the lady who sold her house and I was able to say:  Yes, God IS in the details and He IS wonderful and He DID take care of us too.  Our deepest prayers WERE answered.  The situation may not be the same, the circumstances totally different, one event happy, the other very painful, but God was there for both, arranging both events and is to be praised for both.

As the anniversary of Bernadette’s passing drew near I spent a lot of time looking back at the last twelve months and questioning if anything had changed.  There are still so many moments when the pain is still as intense as the day Bernadette died and when tears will flow in an instant.  Then I see that there are other moments when I begin to think that just maybe we will survive after all and life is still worth living.  There are so many times when I still beg God to take me home too but others when I find myself thoroughly enjoying Marc and the kids and I’m grateful to be with them.

I was briefly talking with one man after Mass on Sunday who knows the heartache of losing not one but three children over the course of his adult life and when he asked how I was doing I shared with him how surprising it is that it’s been a year already.  Taking each day one minute at a time, one hour at a time; taking one day at a time and WHAM a year has past.  Just the softness in his eyes and his voice as he nodded his head and agreed that the time does go by fast told me he knew far more than I ever will just how difficult it is to continue each day and yet to face each day with courage.  It felt so good to once again know we are not alone.

In my reflections I realize now that much has changed and that I’ve learned a lot of things I would not have otherwise learned.  A few of the major things are:

  1. How to live in the present moment.  Except for those countless moments when my mind rushes back to the last two months of Bernadette’s life; for the rest, it has been easiest to live in the present moment.  The past is far too painful as is the future, so to stay right where I am at this exact moment is the least painful and the most peaceful.   And as an added bonus, I’ve been able to enjoy Zoe and Catherine more, as well as everyone else.  I say Zoe and Catherine specifically because they’re the ones I’m with for the vast majority of my time and it is through them that I’m reminded of Bernadette the most, so it is amazing that in staying in the present moment I am still able to see them for who they are and enjoy them for who they are and not who they remind me of and I’m not missing out on their childhood.
  2. I’ve discovered how to live by grace.  There was a time in the not so distant past that I questioned the power of grace because it is intangible and most times imperceptible;  but over this last 15 months I’ve discovered the incredible power of grace for I know with all my heart that it has been through grace alone that we have survived at all.   Every day it was only with God’s help that I was able to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, and focus on what I needed to do for the kids and Marc.  I didn’t perceive the grace or even recognize it for the most part, but looking at the last year as a whole it’s hard to miss!  Kind of like the air we breath, we don’t take any notice of it unless it stinks or it is suddenly in short supply.
  3. This being very much a year of pure grace has renewed my faith in the power of prayer.   Marc and I have commented countless times that it has been through the prayers of our family, friends, and Church community that God has showered us with His grace to help us each moment of each day.   We are all too aware of where we would be right now without God as our foundation and strength and how that foundation has been mightily shaken over the last 15 months and may have crumbled had it not been for everyone’s prayers.  Healing Bernadette would have been easy for God had He chosen to, but sustaining shattered hearts over a long period of time is in itself a miracle.   And not just us, but Paul, Joseph, Johanna, Catherine… and those closest to Bernadette as well.
  4. The best way to pray where we are assured God will say ‘yes’ 100percent of the time is to pray “Thy will be done”.  It can be an easy prayer to pray when we’re sure the answer will be to our liking and it is the hardest to pray when we know the answer won’t, but in the end we eventually discover, if not in this life then in the next, that God’s will is the best answer to every prayer.

The one year mark is not a magical mile stone.  Repeatedly I have read that the second year is not much better than the first.  There will be fewer ‘firsts’ and there will be more distance between them, some may not even be noticed, but they will come.  There will still be many 100ft waves and times when I feel I’m back to square one in my grief, but God has given me many sticks to build a sturdy raft with and has helped me to see that His grace is sustaining us as a family and His love is slowly healing our shattered hearts.

All these things I will bring with me as I take this next year one day at a time and each day one hour at a time and each hour one minute at a time.



By Cheryl

By Fr. David Purcell C.Ss.R.
Hi Patti,
Still with you in prayer especially at this time of year.

By Mary Anne N.
Thanks again for sharing your heart with us. Love and hugs,

By Laura Brestovansky
Our hearts go out to you and yours, dear friend

By Dani
My thoughts and prayers have been with you and your family today Patti. Yahweh bless and sustain you always. Much love to you all.

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