In our family our birthday celebrations tend to run for about a week, give or take a day – so why not a feast day too!
It’s interesting, we had a few people ask us if we had any plans for the 29th or plans to mark the memorial of Bernadette’s death and in all honesty it didn’t occur to us. I asked Marc and he looked back at me with a blank look on his face. Pretty much the same look I gave people who asked me. But it did get me thinking and at one point on Thursday morning I asked Bernadette, “How do you want us to mark your memorial?” I kind of forgot about that little prayer until a few hours later when I got the strangest thought – it should be a day of celebration, a day to focus on where she is and that she is perfectly happy.
On that note, on the way to town for Johanna’s driver’s test I mentioned to the girls that the Church’s current tradition is to place a canonized Saint’s Feast Day on the day of their death. I say current because I don’t know Church history enough to know if that’s the way it’s always been or when it started. But for the most part, almost all the Saints we know of have their Feast Day on the day they passed from this life and entered Heaven. In that vein, being the “Domestic Church” we decided that the day of Bernadette’s passing from this life to Heaven should be HER Feast Day too.
With that in mind, on our way into town, Catherine picked out a bouquet of flowers and on our way out we stopped at the cemetery, cleared off Bernadette’s memorial stone and stuck the flowers in the snow. They looked beautiful as they were the only fresh flowers in the entire section of the cemetery and the backdrop was white snow instead of the usual green grass we’re use to.
At first I was surprised to see just snow with the odd little marker sticking up and I kind of panicked that I wouldn’t be able to find Bernadette’s memorial stone, but I’d been there enough through the other seasons that it only took two tries and I was right where I needed to be.
While we were in town we also picked up breaded chicken so we could have Bernadette’s favorite lunch: “my favorite chicken and Kraft Dinner”. As it turned out, Marc hadn’t had a chance to come home for lunch while we were gone so when we got home we were able to bring him down a hot “Bernadette lunch”.
Friday itself turned out to be a very peaceful day. Keeping our focus on Bernadette being in heaven kept it from being a sad day. We celebrated at supper by having another one of Bernadette’s favorite meals – perogies and ham. Actually the favorite part of that meal for Bernadette was the sour cream because it was white and the salad dressing for the baby carrots because it too was white. “White” was her absolute favorite food. After supper Marc, Catherine, Zoe, and I watched a movie together because that was two of Bernadette’s favorite activities: being together as a family and family movie night. During the movie Paul called. We also spent more time than usual talking about Bernadette, recalling memories and thinking about what she’d be doing now.
The amazing thing about Friday is it truly was a Feast Day. Much like a birthday but not a celebration as in presents and cake, but a celebration in the sense of feeling closer to Bernadette than we have in a year and being happy for her. Then again, maybe it was a day for presents too….. I could count on two fingers the number of days this last year when I didn’t cry thinking about Bernadette and Friday made it three. Even in the quiet of the night when I was laying in bed thinking of the day and of Bernadette, there wasn’t even a hint of sadness. It was an incredible day of peace. Maybe that was Bernadette’s gift to us!
Saturday Marc’s parents joined us. After supper we watched a slide show of Bernadette’s life and shared a few stories. One Suzanne shared was really cute. Apparently we dropped Bernadette of at her Meme’s while we all went to clean the church. Suzanne stood by the window and waved and said, ‘you go do your cleaning, we’ll be right here’, to which Bernadette replied, “I know you’re talking to me, Meme, because there is nobody else here.”
Pat Bakker is Bernadette’s godmother and she called the other day to let us know that they had arranged for a Mass to be said for our family for Friday in Salmon Arm but because our pastor is recovering from surgery the Mass was moved to Sunday and to our parish here in Blind Bay, which was way cool because then we all could be there. The special thing about Mass too is that it was our first ‘Children’s Mass’ with all the children participating in one way or another. Johanna, Catherine, and Zoe were asked to bring up the gifts – something we never said yes to before as a family because Bernadette was too shy and terrified to do it with us. Stephanie joined them as there is usually four. I watched the four girls walk up the isle and a few tears escaped my eyes thinking that had things been different it would have been my four girls together. As it was Stephanie being one of Bernadette’s favorite people made it special just the way it was. Without trying to read too much into the fact that it was a Children’s Mass, it felt like Bernadette was letting us know she was with us.
The Bakkers came to Mass too so we invited them to join us and Marc’s parents for lunch. Marc had a slide show of Bernadette playing on the corner coffee table the entire day.
All in all, the last couple days have had their moments of tears and heart ache, but also moments of peace and blessings. It felt very much like a birthday – only better.
p.s. Johanna passed her driver’s license. Today was her maiden voyage – she drove herself to work this afternoon.
Wow! Way cool… a Children’s Mass at which to celebrate Bernadette! Wow!
As I read about this, I was also reminded of the Good Friday to Sunday journey of Jesus and how there is a reflection of his dying and rising in this Feast Day(s) of Bernadette. Yes, indeed there are many layers of our lives and spirits being touched at this Feast for Bernadette.
Fr. David Purcell C.Ss.R.
Blessing to you allxxxxxxxxxxx
What wonderful inspirations you were given that day. Thinking about you all on that special ” feast day” from Lacey’s hospital bed..( appendicitis ! ) Way to go Johanna , Happy independence!