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From Marie Martin to Mme Guérin - July 28, 1877

From Marie to Mrs. Guérin. 28th July 1877

28th July 1877.

Dear Aunt,

Your lovely letter did me a lot of good and I want to reply straight away to give you news of mama. Alas, if only it could be good! But no, at present I only have sad news to tell you since God sends us nothing but crosses.

Since the beginning of the week, Mama has been more ill. On Sunday, she wanted to go to the first Mass again, but it took her tremendous strength and effort to get to Church. Every step she took resounded in her neck, she was sometimes obliged to stop to regain a bit of strength.

When I saw her so weakened, I begged her to go home, but she wanted to go all the way, believing that the pain would pass but that wasn’t the case, on the contrary, she had a lot of trouble getting back from church, so she doesn’t want to do something so imprudent again.

Besides, it would be impossible at present because since Monday she hasn’t been able to go out, she doesn’t even look after her office, Louise and I see the workers. Mama is continually in her bedroom, either in bed or sitting comfortably in an armchair for the bed is very painful because of her wretched neck that makes her suffer horribly.

We have given her four pillows so that she can practically sit upright in bed, she must always keep her neck straight without making any movement. When she grows tired of supporting her head, we very gently lift her up together with the pillows so that she is sitting up completely. But it’s never without incredible pain because at the least movement she lets out harrowing cries.

And yet how patiently and resignedly she bears this dreadful illness. She never puts down her rosary; she still prays despite her suffering, we all admire her for it, for nothing can match her strength and energy.

A fortnight ago she was still saying the whole rosary on her knees at the foot of the Bl. Virgin in my bedroom that she loves so much. Seeing her so sick I wanted to make her sit down, but it was pointless.

Yesterday, our poor mama had a bad night. Louise stayed to care for her until two o’clock. I would have liked to have done it myself but I met with refusal. I didn’t sleep any better for it, the thought of seeing mama suffer so much took away all sleepiness.

Finally, at three o’clock, it was my turn to have the sad consolation of caring for her. Oh, if only I could spend my nights at her side, it would be a great relief for me. I would like to wear myself out for her, not leave her for an instant, oh it wouldn’t tire me, I’m very sure of it!

I regret seeing Sisters of Mercy come here. One of them should be coming tonight and I won’t be able to stay alone with poor Mother. It’s so sad to see one’s family being cared for by strangers, I can’t bear it, I think it is ungrateful and cowardly.

But it’s necessary and I know it’s not ingratitude, we can’t do everything. Despite my willingness to help Louise, she is exhausted at the end of the day. But I must also say that the poor girl cares for mama with a great deal of dedication and patience, not counting her strength and if she did wrong by Léonie, this is how she is trying to be forgiven.

Mama highly approved of your plan to come to Alençon; we aren’t able to come to Lisieux this year, have fun and go for walks while our darling Mother is sick. I foresaw this quite a long time ago, so I didn’t mention a trip to Lisieux in any of my letters, it seems so uncertain!

Mama tasked me to remind you, dear Aunt, that she would like you to arrange your trip for the week of 19th August after the feast day of the Assumption; because, if the Bl. Virgin cured her that day, we would all leave for Lisieux as agreed. Let’s hope that our good Mother will take pity on us and that she will be touched by our prayers and our tears.

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P. S. I forgot to tell you that Dr. Prévost came to see mama today. He prescribed a sedative for her neck aches which are simply the result, he says, of her pain. That’s what I always thought for an exertion doesn’t last that long. He was very polite, very amiable; I believe he frightens her less at present.

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