From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 91 - April 10, 1873.

From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin

Holy Thursday, April 10, 1873

Every day I’ve been thinking of telling you about Marie’s illness. I was resolved to wait until Sunday, assuming that you already had enough worries without this one.

So I’m going to tell you that Marie arrived Saturday evening with Monsieur Vital Romet. She was only in the boarding school’s infirmary since Thursday, but for four days prior to that, she was suffering without complaining. The doctor for the Visitation Monastery in Le Mans believed that it would be nothing and said it wasn’t necessary to make her leave, but my sister thought it more prudent to send her home Saturday. If she had waited one day longer, Marie wouldn’t have been able to withstand the journey. The very next day at eight o’clock I saw the doctor, who immediately feared it was typhoid fever.

I gave my little patient some broth that she found difficult to get down. She had a very bad night. She was delirious until three o’clock in the morning. She asked me to take away a ball that was on her pillow. Then she came to her senses again and said to me, “I’m mistaking my head for a ball, it seems to me that I have a head made out of wood.” Afterwards, she was calm enough, and she slept a lot. When the fever broke, she had the look of death. She could neither stand nor get out of bed.

Although she wasn’t very bad Saturday night, when she arrived I felt a blow to my heart. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was going to die. For a long time I’ve been worried about her future. She’s a child with an extraordinarily tender heart. She couldn’t get used to the boarding school again, and she couldn’t suffer the deprivation of not seeing us. She told me some things about this that broke my heart.

I’m doing all I can to console her and make her hope for a quick recovery. Yesterday I told her that she will be the one who will take care of the house and raise her little sisters when I’m dead. It was very unfortunate that I spoke to her about this; she did nothing but cry. She couldn’t bear the idea that I would die before her. I’m very afraid that God will grant her wish.

It was agreed that Pauline would not come home for Easter vacation. I asked the doctor what he thought about it. He told me I could have her here on the condition that I not let her go into her sister’s room and that there wouldn’t be any danger that way. In any case, she has to come. Marie couldn’t get over knowing her sister would be there all alone. As long as there was a question of Pauline staying at the convent, there were constant tears. Now, she’s moaning because “little Paulin,” as her father often calls her, will return without her, and she’s convinced that this will cause her very great sorrow.

I said to her the day before yesterday, “Since you can’t get used to the Visitation Monastery, you won’t go back there.” She responded immediately, “Oh! I want to go back there; my poor aunt would feel too sad.” So we hope that God won’t allow so great a trial as to lose this child. My husband is devastated, and he never leaves the house. He played nurse this morning because, today being Thursday, I had to receive my workers all morning, and he replaced me. But it makes him sick to hear her moan and takes away all his courage.

Goodbye, my dear friend, pray for us so that if God requires such a sacrifice, we’ll have the strength to bear it.

Marie made her Easter Duty Tuesday morning (Catholics who have made their First Communion were required to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive Holy Communion during the Easter season). She received Communion at five-thirty, with perfect devotion and an angelic expression.

© Society of St. Paul / Alba House

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