From Céline to Pauline Romet.
February 18, 1889
After a grave attack of paralysis, M. Martin was hospitalized at Caen, Tuesday, February 12.
Lisieux, February 18, '89
I was very much touched by your very loving and consoling letter. Oh! yes, we are sad, very sad, and without any comfort. It is the greatest trial that could come to us; we love our dear little Father so much! He was our glory, our whole love. We loved him all the more because he had loved us so much; he had left his dear Alençon and his friends for our sake, and he acted as a Mother to us. He always watched over us with a fatherly love; I could say it had no equal. He was the best of fathers, the most excellent of men; everybody loved him, and in the town they call him: "the holy patriarch." And now he is gone!. . . Oh! dear Aunt Pauline, our heart is torn; we find no consolation whatever in the bitterness of our sorrow. As for myself, never will I be able to accustom myself to this separation; hours follow hours, days follow days and the sorrow is the same, or rather it becomes more intense, the wound deepens.
Dear Aunt, I am not going to try to describe my sorrow to you, for deep emotions cannot be described, but I know you understand; in fact, our language, as rich as it is, is still too poor for the language of the heart.
On Saturday, we were at Caen to see our dear little Father; he was sleeping, and he was feeling no pain. For me, this was the beginning of an attack. The last one was signaled in exactly the same way. At first, he had been going along for some ten days, then he ended up by sleeping; I don't know how he is today. We intend to return there in one or two days. I want only one thing and that is to be a servant girl in some Community in order to be near him and to run at the slightest sign; I can no longer live here. Lisieux seems to me like a desert; I feel that I am too far from the one I love. I want to dedicate myself to him; my life is now useless so I am going to try to carry out my plan. Dear Aunt, I am sure that you are going to approve; you understand dedication so well!
We went to see M. and Mme. Benoît; they told us they had left for Alençon. We wanted to thank them. Knowing that they will be near you, I think they will give you some details that would take too long in a letter. The doctor at the establishment told us that it was a general paralysis, the whole nervous system was attacked; he believes that the time will come when all his strength will be so weakened that we shall be able to take him home and take care of him until his last breath; this hope gives me courage. It is very sad that the paralysis settled in his brain, otherwise we would still have our very much-loved Father at home. He is incredibly good; he was far from wanting to do us any harm with his revolver; on the contrary, he wanted to defend us. In his imagination, he was seeing frightful things, slaughter, battles; he was hearing the sounds of cannon and the drum. I tried in vain to correct his mistake. An attempt at robbery in the town served only to
confirm him in his ideas, so he took his revolver and wanted to carry it on him in case of danger, for, he said, "I would not want to harm even a cat." In fact, I don't believe that he would have made use of it; it was just an idea that was passing and it would have vanished. Perhaps they should have waited before acting and should have tried ways of taking it away from him, for he was so good, so gentle; he used to kiss us with such tenderness!
Dear Aunt Pauline, God has permitted this trial; that is what we have to say. The consolations of religion can alone strengthen us in such circumstances.
The consolations of friends are very sweet, too, especially when they are dictated by a heart like that of our good Aunt.
My regards to M. Vital.
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