Another intimate sharing in the face of bereavement that cannot fail to touch us as we recall times of personal mourning.
Do not think, my dear friend, that it is through forgetfulness that I do not write to you. I tell myself every day it is a long time since I have done so; I need to converse with you, I feel it, I would not let you out of my sight a moment if you were near me; but on entering my study, I have as much repugnance for anything requiring attention as someone with hydrophobia has for water. Such is the state in which this bereavement has left me and which I feel as much now as I did on the first day.
I do not think I am lacking resignation; I do not refuse the consolations which the holy death of this too dear child procures for a Christian father; but the still bleeding wound cannot be healed, even by this supernatural balm.
I always have my child before my eyes, just as grace fashioned him in his last illness; I review in my mind all the circumstances of his life; I recall to mind all the sentiments which he never tired of expressing to me. The happiness that I experienced after certain clouds were dissipated and after he tried to ease my heart over the sorrows which grieved him so to have given me; the hopes that I had formed for the future, either for my personal peace or for the good of the Society, come back so keenly, so profoundly, so continually that it is remarkable that I hold up.
My firm constitution must however reassure you as to my physical condition; but as to my morale, I am affected, I am truly ill; I am no longer able to concentrate; my spirit goes by itself towards the object of my love and of my eternal regret. I think of him; I speak of him, I dwell on him ceaselessly; I am in no state to write a letter.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 19 February 1829, EO VII n 325
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving