October 17, 1871
… I’m grief-stricken, my heart is as broken as when I lost my own children. I see you all in tears, next to your little loved one, who died under such distressing conditions [Paul Guérin was delivered stillborn on October 16, 1871]. And yet God has still granted you a great grace since he had time to be baptized. So, my dear friend, you have to have courage, and I don’t think you lack it. You have enough strength and faith to endure the afflictions of life.
I received your letter just as I was sitting down at the table with company because we had people over. I assure you, what I ate didn’t hurt me. I could eat nothing. My heart was so shattered, I couldn’t breathe. If I could only cry when I’m like this, but no, this relief is denied me. When I’m in great pain, I can’t cry.
I was supposed to be the godmother, and I was rejoicing so much over that! Well! It’s destined that all my celebrations turn out this way….
I don’t know why, but I had a vague premonition of some misfortune. Saturday night, on receiving the dress that I’d had made for the occasion, I said to myself, “I’m rejoicing too much, something terrible could very well happen.”
I wasn’t wrong. If the child had died after several days, I would feel less pain, but given the way things took place, I imagine that it was the doctor’s fault.
As you see, my dear friend, I’m giving you peculiar consolations, but I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I can’t console you because I myself need to be consoled. When I saw our guests, during lunch, enjoying themselves as if nothing upsetting had happened, I felt a lot of bitterness. Don’t think, however, that Louis was one of them, because he was very sensitive to your pain and speaks of it constantly.
We’re going over in our minds all the suffering and all the troubles your poor wife has had to endure the last six months, and we’re bemoaning the sad ending. Yes, this is very hard. However, my dear friend, let’s not complain, God is the Master. For our own good, He may allow us to suffer a great deal, but never without His help and His grace.
Yesterday I received, at the same time, a letter from our aunt, Madame Frédéric Guérin, announcing the death of her husband (the brother of their father, Isidore, Sr.), who was struck down by a stroke last Tuesday. She invited us to the service that will take place on Thursday. She didn’t give me any detail. I don’t know if he had time to see a priest. This saddened me, but not nearly as much as the news you gave me.
If you can write once before I come to see you, you would make me happy. Tell me, above all, if the child was alive when he was baptized. The doctor should really have baptized him before his birth. When they see a child in danger, it’s always there that they should begin.
While waiting for a letter from you, I hug you with all my heart.
Saint Zélie Martin
Letter CF 71 to her brother Isidore Guérin