From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 65 - May 5, 1871.


From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin

May 5, 1871

… I’m very happy you’re satisfied with the maid I sent you. I’d very much like to have one like her myself, but, unfortunately, you don’t often find them. She’d promised to write me within three weeks, and she hasn’t kept her word. Tell her that I’ll be the one who’ll probably bring her Madame S’s little package. I’ve wanted to come see you for a long time. I’ll never be freer than I am now, so I’d like to take advantage of it by spending a few days with you.

I’m glad my brother insisted on this in his last letter. This persuades my husband, who doesn’t like to see me leave. I prefer to go now rather than during summer vacation. This will not be a trip for the older girls, but for Léonie and Céline. Imagine that I’m dreaming of taking both of them. The little one is so good that I find it hard to part from her. I’d only have to take her out for walks and take care of her with your little Jeanne. We’ll go to the Le Jardin de l’Étoile ((a park in Lisieux a short distance from Les Buissonnets, the future home of Louis Martin and his children). In other words, I’m looking forward to it as if I were a child.

Louis tells me it’s crazy to bring the little one. I think he’s right, and I may regret it. She’s really not difficult to care for, but usually a 25-month old child is hardly reasonable. Nevertheless, if you knew how very cute she is. I’ve never had a child so attached to me. No matter what she wants to do, if I tell her that it hurts me, she stops that moment.

When we dress her to go out, she’s very happy. Above all, it’s her beautiful white hat that she’s taken with. But at the moment she’s leaving, if I say to her with a sad expression, “So, you’re going to leave me?” she immediately leaves the maid, comes to my side and embraces me with all her might. “No, no, not leave you, Mama, go away….” Then when I speak to her happily about her leaving, she looks me in the eyes to see if it’s really true and that I’m not hurt anymore, and she starts to jump for joy.

She had the measles three weeks ago. She was very sick for five days, and I was very afraid I might lose her. Several children here are dying of it. Now she’s cured, but she still coughs a little, and she doesn’t look so well. Marie and Pauline also had the same illness at the Visitation Monastery. When they returned there, on April 10, Marie had already had a bad cold for two days. I said to their father, “Believe me, let’s not send them back. Marie has a bad cold, and she’ll be put in the infirmary as soon as she arrives.” All the same, he wanted them to leave, saying that it was nothing.

Monsieur Romet had taken responsibility for going with them to Le Mans. I only went as far as the train station in Alençon. When I returned, I noticed my little Céline already had some measles’ spots, and I thought, “Here’s what Marie is going to have, and it will be quite a problem at the Visitation.” I wasn’t wrong. On arriving, Marie had a fever, and they put her to bed. She was very sick for three days. The doctor was called, and he determined it was only a rash, a poorly developed case of measles, like she had once before, six years ago. Finally, by Friday, she was cured, and she soon started her studies again.

Sunday, my sister wrote me that they were at the point of dismissing the entire boarding school. Five students came down with the measles, as well as Pauline, and it was Marie, supposedly, who gave it to the others. Pauline was barely sick with it. That didn’t keep her from spending three weeks in the infirmary, and they regret not doing the same for Marie. One other thing, their father, who is sorry about what happened, won’t send them back to school again with a cold!

I see, my dear sister, that you’re expecting a child again. I’m worried about your health. Well, God never gives us more than we can bear. Many times I’ve seen my husband worry about my health, when I couldn’t be any calmer. I would say to him, “Don’t be afraid, God is with us.” I was, however, overwhelmed with work and problems of all kinds, but I had the firm confidence of being supported from on high.

Hearing me speak this way, a friend said to me, “God surely sees that you could never cope with raising so many children, and He took four of them to Paradise.” But to tell the truth, that’s not how I understand it. In the end, God is the Master, and He doesn’t have to ask for my permission. On the other hand, until now, I’ve very well endured all the hard work of motherhood, entrusting myself to His Providence. Besides, what do you want? We’re not on this earth for our enjoyment. Those who expect to enjoy life are very wrong and remarkably disappointed in their expectations. We see this every day and, sometimes, in a very striking way.

Last week, a little eleven-year-old boy who lived on our street died. He was the happiness of his parents. He was charming in body and spirit. Their remaining child, a good little girl who is twelve years old, is going to have the same fate. She is close to death. These are very rich people, who have just bought a beautiful house in order to retire from business. What’s the point, now that their lives are broken? Perhaps this is barely going to interest you, my dear sister, but I love to speak with you of what strikes me.

I end by hugging you with all my heart, as well as your two beautiful little girls.

 © Society of St. Paul / Alba House


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