My Painful Journey Of Tears

By | March 6, 2017

There can never be any preparation for this painful journey of tears as a mother with a pierced heart must walk.  Once we are blessed with bringing forth a beautiful child into this world, our greatest fear is to lose them.

Millions of mothers throughout the ages have been stabbed with the most painful sword of death that tears away their most precious love.

With the sudden death of my beloved son André, I have unwillingly joined them in the deepest of sorrow.

I think of all the mothers who have lost sons in countless wars, some never returned even to bury. Then there were millions of weeping mothers who had to bury several of their infants and children, who were cruelly taken away by countless infections before the event of antibiotics and or vaccines.

Any of them  could have written this post, echoing my shock, grief, pain and deepest sorrow.  I am writing for them too, who never had a pen to write, nor anyone to read their tear stained words.

Like them, I will live out the rest of my life with a wound that will never heal, only covered up by a thin painful scar I hope will shrink.

Right now there is the acute rawness of pain, that makes my heart feel raw and inflamed .  My heart actually hurts in my chest.

There is an actual cardiac condition called Takotsuba  syndrome that occurs with broken hearts that I wrote a post about on October 12, 2012, titled:  Broken Heart Syndrome And Cardiac Implications.

There is also  that monumental presence of feeling as though it is weighted down with tons of rock of sorrow, struggling to beat.

At the same time I feel the numbness of disbelief, of not being able to process that my son has left this earth to return to that mystical place where only love and peace exist.

The harsh reality that I can not escape is there and I feel so powerless in facing it, except with the help of my deep Christian faith.

Trying to understand why and how this could happen is a futile and unproductive quest, because there can not be any answers to be believed, even if they were presented written in stone.

I am left with my unending faith, a faith in God that I was blessed to have been enveloped with even as a small child.

I was introduced to the greatest fear  and  most cruelest fate by witnessing my beautiful aunt Margaret suffer the loss of two of her children, first when I was 7, then again when  I was 12.

I remember feeling guilty and unworthy to have remained alive, when my beautiful cousin Sandra should have been spared, whom I considered my sister.

Aunt Margaret, with whom I was very close to throughout her life,  died only about two years ago at the age of 92.   I must tell you that I believe she was reaching out to hold my hand that saturday, when she knew my son had passed from this world, before he was even discovered lying on the floor of his room.

I had returned home from saturday evening mass around  7:30pm Paris time.  I rarely go to mass on saturday, preferring instead sunday and sometimes during the week.

Our bible was on the dining room table and I pulled it out to look up the reading from the gospel of  Matthew, when her funeral memory bookmark fell out.

I wanted to text Andre the reading, to see if was the same that he heard that morning when he had attended an early bird 8 am mass.

He had texted me earlier about going to the Saint Louis basilica  and the joy he felt in reciting the entire rosary that day.

It was early sunday morning around 4 am that I awoke to read my spiritual readings and pray which I find myself doing almost every night.

I did not consider that unusual, as it had become an almost nightly occurrence.    I even wrote a post about this titled : On Becoming a Midnight Monk on December 12, 2013.

Around 6 am Paris time, I had not been able to go back to sleep and was suddenly filled with a deep sorrow.

At the time, I did not identify it relating to my son, but of a past sorrow that I carried unhealed.  All of a sudden I shifted to feeling ashamed that my sorrow could have never been as all encompassing and profound as that of Holy Mother Mary watching her son Jesus slowly die on the cross, totally powerless to save him.

I remember calling out to her that I wished I could have been there to hold her and dry away her tears.  As I felt drowned in Mary’s pain, I received the call from the states telling me that my son had died of a heart attack at only 41 years of age, according to the coroner.

For over 9 years, André had suffered from the deepest valleys of depression and anxiety, and had been diagnosed with Bipolar Two.  I learned about 2 years ago that he had developed an addiction to opiates, which he used to self medicate.

I remembered some of my patients telling me, when I worked part time in an addiction unit that opiates took away all emotional pain.

As you have probably read there is an explosive epidemic of opiate medication and heroin addiction in the US.

He had been in recovery since last April, and had greatly benefited from the help and fellowship of NA. When we last visited him, we went with him to a NA meeting , and I was surprised  and alarmed that most members were young professionals.

He told me two weeks before he died that he had experienced chest pains and was taken to the hospital, but was hospitalised on the psych floor for 3 days then released.

He informed me that his triglycerides and lipids were extremely high and he was started on statins. The day before he died he was complaining of bad leg pain, that he felt was a result of a long walk taken the day before.

I thought it was more likely from the statins, that are notorious for causing intense muscle pain and weakness. Or was it residual claudication, a symptom of peripheral arterial disease?

Since the last week of December, Andre had suffered a series of unimaginable and unexpected losses that resembled some of the tragic dimensions of Job.

First he had lost his job a few days after Christmas.  The next day, preoccupied and stressed, he had a wreck that totaled his car.  Unable to withstand the multitude of these immense losses he fell quickly back into a depression severe enough to be hospitalised.

Around the 7 of January, while hospitalised he was informed that his house caught fire, resulting in extensive smoke damage that made his house uninhabitable.

Spiraling down further into seeing only nothingness ahead, it was decided for him to undergo another series of ECT treatment, as he had responded to them last year.  ECT is generally given to treatment resistive patients, who have not responded adequately to antidepressant medication.

I tried to encourage him to come to Paris, to recuperate, knowing that being immersed with our love and care taking, he could return fortified to the task of rebuilding his life.

André moved to Saint Louis from Louisiana after his divorce to be close to his children, who were his deepest love and joy.  He told me he would love to come, but he did not want to be away from his children.

He stayed in the hospital for the whole month of January, and finally released to a residential house that provided room and board.

Approximately two weeks into the month, he got a call from the Saint Vincent Depaul Society of his church that they had decided to help him repair his house.

He was elated and that was for him the positive sign, that perhaps with God’s help, he could somehow  start to reassemble his life.

About 5 days later, he died, found lying on the floor of his room.  Cardiac or not, but certainly with a broken heart and grief over all his monumental losses.

Though hypercholesterolemia and cardiac disease is in my family history, the possibility of suicide or overdose still looms in my mind, that only the autopsy will confirm or not.

I have never been responsible for planning for a funeral, much less being prepared to do so from long distance.

Fortunately my daughter Aimée, got off from work and we both plunged into the heretofore  unknown tasks that awaited us.  Aimée tackled researching funeral arrangements.

In my muddled grief stricken mind, I knew that the first step was to try to secure flight reservation to Saint Louis.  Not an easy task last minute, because of the fact that Paris is the most visited city in the entire world.

The prices quoted were catastrophic, with a “bereavement fee” from Delta  and others going for 2500 euros per person and none from Air France.   I then decided to search all available options, including Norwegian Air newly installed flights to Miami or New York for around 400 round trip, and then buying another ticket for Saint Louis.

I find myself pretty good in travel arrangements, always doing it myself in the past, but frankly coordinating the domestic flights to matching arrival and departing times with the international portions proved difficult and very costly, pushing to the total amount of flying to over 1,700 euros.

Finally I found a booking through Lufthansa Air on United to Saint Louis. It brought the ticket price down to under 1500, that seemed like a bargain in comparison to the other fees.

The tears started to flow again while waiting in the check line and there was a nice airline representative that offered words of comfort along with a hug.

Waiting to go through security there was a little boy as animated and fidgety as Andre was as a youngster, and I had to turn away to hide the warm tears streaming down my face.

I cried again as the plane took off to a journey that I did not want to undertake, that I had never wanted to even consider happening  and it all felt so unreal.

At the hotel, I was met with the most beautiful friends in the world who came to surround me with their love and support.  Anne and Henry, Cookie and Anne, and Ken from Louisiana.  Kathy flew in all the way from California, and James from Houston.  Eddie drove in from Kentucky.

I will be forever grateful for their sacrifice of time and money to come be with me at a time of deepest need and for the likewise beautiful flowers.

Amy, the beautiful mother of Isabelle and Brayden, along with her parents Darla and Jim, and friends were very kind and loving towards us offering  beautiful flowers and soothing words.

They all provided me a loving balm and soothing solace for my wounded heart.  Their loving cloud enveloped me like a mother and father’s protective arms, consoling my every step.

Susan. Amparo, Burt and Briana, along with my sweet cousin Jan and family,  and Lauren were there in spirit ,  with  calls, flowers and incredible generosity.

Idith, Michelle, and Vera with their tremendous generous offer of help were with us too in our hearts. Perhaps someday a tree will be planted in Andre’s honor in the sacred land of Israel, where they reside.

Shawn, one of my son’s best friends took it up himself to let Andre’s many school friends in Louisiana know of André’s passing and we are very grateful for his love and support.

To all friends of mine, Aimée, and André, who sent emails, made kind comments on Facebook and on my blog, I treasure your words in my heart and with tears of gratitude thank you for your loving support.

Forgive me if late in responding to all of you personally on facebook, but hope to begin again soon.

Hugging my beautiful grandchildren, Isabelle and Brayden seen above with their father brought a flood of tears again each time I was with them and as I clung to them I knew that André lives through them and was hovering above them in spirit and love.

Before the funeral mass began, I placed a rosary from the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, that I often go to pray on Rue Bac, in his hands.  I had bought it the day he died, asking him if he wanted a white or blue one, eventually choosing the blue one.

Looking at him, I felt such emptiness,  I blatantly knew that my son was no longer there.  His spirit had certainly left and was residing in the light and love of a peaceful Heaven.

My only consolation is knowing that André will no longer suffer as he did for many years.  Aimée and I, along with Isabelle and Brayden will for the rest of our lives.

I had requested that the gospel reading be from John 12:24;  Very truly I say to you; unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it  remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it will produce many fruits.

I thought it would be especially appropriate as the Lenten season was a day away, and Christians prepare for the death and resurrection of  our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father Michael Rennier, of Holy Infant Catholic Church presided at the funeral mass and beautifully elaborated this scripture in his homily.

Even before André died he had already brought many fruits to this life. Besides of course my beloved grandchildren, Isabelle and Brayden, it was André at age ten who announced that he wanted to convert to the Catholic faith, with me and his sister Aimée later following him.

Father Rennier also graciously granted me a request that those attending the funeral mass could bless Andre’s body by sprinkling him with Holy Water, as it is an old French custom seen in Catholic funerals here.

Aimée and I prayed the rosary  over André for the last time, both in English and French.  Because of all the sacred sites and processions that I go to  here that honor Holy Mary Theotokos, saying the rosary in French actually comes more naturally to my lips.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

French

Je vous salue Marie, Pleine de Grâce, Le Seigneur est avec Vous

Vous êtes bénis entre toutes les femmes, et Jésus le fruit de vos entrailles est béni.

Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu priez pour nous,  pauvres pécheurs maintenant et à l’heure de notre mort. Amen.

 

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “My Painful Journey Of Tears

  1. Debora

    I love you……my heart breaks for you…..my mother lost an infant son before my sister and I were born. She never speaks of her loss, but you have shared so beautifully the overwhelming emotions. In your pain, you have once again helped me to understand so much about the journey we all undertake on our way to our Heavenly home. I pray that you are comforted knowing how many people love you and loved Andre’. I will always treasure the warm memories of him cooking delightful dinners at your home here. Thank you for sharing him with all of us!

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you sweet Debora for your continued love and support, and your prayers. Love and Hugs

      Reply
  2. Andy Feehan

    I am thinking about you, Cherry. I wish I could remove this terrible burden. I will pray for you and Andre.

    Reply
  3. Sharron T.

    Dear Cherry,

    Please know that you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. I have spoken with our cherished friends and know how meaningful it was to them to be with you during this most sorrowful time. May your strong faith and the love that surrounds you bring you comfort and peace in the days ahead. Much love, Sharron

    Reply
  4. Jacqueline Carter

    What a brave and lovely post in remembrance of your wonderful, kind Andre…I feel love is an energy that never dies and in that sense, Andre lives in the hearts of all who were touched by his sweet soul…My deepest condolences, Cherry and Aimee, as you forge ahead with this journey of intense sorrow; I will continue to hold you both in my prayers…I have found comfort during loss in these words from Virginia Woolf, which, to me, represent the profound intensity and also the authentic simplicity of our earthly connections, honoring the reality that true love is timeless…
    ~Always the years between us…Always the years…Always the love…Always the hours~
    Sending much love and huge hugs, dear Cherry…Jacqueline

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you so much Jacqueline for sharing and reminding us that love is eternal and lives certainly beyond physical death. Our souls will return to the arms of those who went ahead to the heavenly sphere of Love.

      Reply
  5. Debbie Griffith May

    Dear Cherry, I am so sorry for your loss. Having lost touch with your side of the family meant missing the good and the bad. We have catching up to do. Don’t know if it will be this year because of travel concerns but it will happen. Bless you and yours. Debbie

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you very much Debbie for writing and I do hope to be able to learn about our grandmothers parents, and their early lives as immigrants settled in the rolling hills of Lovely New England. Hugs

      Reply
  6. Tanja Foil

    In my mind, he will always be my darling Aimee’s cute, sweet, mischievous little brother. I wish I could hug you both right now. I hope you can find comfort in knowing how many people love and pray for you. Tanja

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you very much Tanja for your kinds words, friendship, love and prayers for me and Aimée. Hugs

      Reply
  7. carline charles

    My heart breaks for you and the whole family. As a mother, i just cannot imagine the pain you are going through. Just know many time during the day when i think of you I ask God to put his arms around you and comfort you. Love you and Aimee very much will continue to pray for all of you. Hugs.

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you so much Carline for your very sweet and comforting words and prayers. Aimée and I love you and your beautiful daughter Kenya. Hugs and love to both of you.

      Reply
  8. Pam viviano

    Cherry, I’m so sorry you have had to face this. I am sorry life was so hard for Andre. I hope that the children can retain him in their hearts and follow in his footsteps, and together with you and Aimee will be stronger because of your collective love and co-support. This picture is a beautiful one as are the other ones you’ve posted of your granddaughter in the dresses you’ve brought her from France. Memories and life now are equally important. Much love and light and life to the whole family, even Andre. I’m sorry he did not come to France and that he suffered so on his own. Love to all of you- Pam

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you dear Pam for all of your very sweet messages to me. I read them all with much gratitude. Andre does indeed live on in his children. There were happier times for my son, that I will treasure in many memories. Love and Hugs

      Reply
  9. Kay Jones King

    What a beautifully written love story to your son. I feel much sorrow for you and hold you in my prayers. Only time will help to ease your pain, but you will always have wonderful memories of your son close to your heart. Hold them dearly as you begin to heal.
    Kay Jones King

    Reply
  10. Eddie Narozniak

    Dear Cherry,
    The pain of having to go through the death of Andre’ will always be with you and Aimee. Your deep faith will help ease the hurt but not erase it. As I read the above and as I write this, tears are dripping down my cheeks for you and Aimee…my tears now, yours…always. Please know that we all share in the knowledge that he is in a peaceful heaven. With much love,

    Eddie

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Eddie, not only for your very touching words, but taking the time to drive all the way to Saint Louis to be with me. As you slowly walked towards me, it initially was like a mirage coming out of nowhere, but after all these years I immediately recognised your face. I will forever to be grateful to you for your sacrifice of time and effort of such kindness and empathy. Wish you could have stayed longer to visit. Hugs and Love

      Reply
  11. John Andrew Prime

    Cherry, this is a wonderful tribute to your son. Lila and I miss you and cherish the time you spent helping her. We wish you solace and grace in this terrible time. The older I get the more I believe there is an afterlife and heaven and that we will be with one another on a deeper, different plane after our time on this orb is done. I’m sorry that Lila and I were not able to be there for you. If there is any way we can help you, please let us know.

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you so much John and Lila for writing me your very comforting words. I do know that I will be reunited to him once I too return to Heaven. Hugs to you and Lila

      Reply
  12. marta

    Querida Cherry, Hermoso el texto que escribes, ha de ser terrible el dolor que tu y Aimè sienten. Habrá de pasar algún tiempo para calmar tanto sufrimiento y aquietar el corazón. Te mando desde aquí un fuerte abrazo, bendiciones para ti y Aimé. Dios les de la fuerza para seguir adelante, Paz y Amor para ustedes. marta

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Dear Marta,
      Thank you very much for your beautiful message that comforts my heart. Aimee and I appreciate your love, prayers and hugs.
      I do hope you will come to Paris someday. Love and Hugs to you Marta.

      Reply
  13. Jenny Dawson Colema

    I just learned of Andrès passing yesterday. I’m so very sorry for your loss and I can’t imagine what your family is going through. I pray for comfort and healing for you all.
    I went to school with Andrè, I remember the house on On the corner (Gladstone) I believe !!!
    I haven’t seen or spoke to Andrè in years, probably a quick hello on Facebook.
    Your message is amazing and thank you for sharing. I inquired a lot his passing via Shawn and he sent me your blog. Very beautiful.

    Reply
    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Jenny for such a sweet message and for your prayers much needed. Your memory of Andre’s former house is indeed exactly where you mentioned.
      I am sorry that learning of Andre’s passing brought you to my blog, but he would be very pleased that you wrote and cared about his life. I hope you will find other posts on my little blog that might sing to you a less tragic note. Hugs

      Reply

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