The Little Children of Heaven
The Martins will lose 4 young children, and the Guérins one at birth.
Born October 13, 1864
Died February 22, 1870
Letters from Mrs. Martin
End of 1869 (?) to Mme Guérin: Hélène had the measles and was very ill from it; for three days I had worries, now she is doing very well, except for a sore eyes which remained after her illness; it was not, however, that she had left too soon, she kept the bed for eight days and the room for three weeks.
February 24, 1870 to Guérin: Your letter did me good. I am really grateful for all the interest you have shown me and I thank you for it. I resign myself to the will of God, although it is very hard to lose such a cute little girl. (Little Hélène had died on February 22, 1870, at the age of five years and four months); but what I regret the most and what I cannot console myself with is not having better understood his condition. I didn't think she was seriously ill. I had been accustomed for a long time to seeing her in pain, I cared for her as well as possible by giving her tonics which the doctor had recommended to me. When I saw her recovering from a slight fever a fortnight ago, at first I thought it was a cold, I didn't worry about it. After five days, I call the doctor. He told me that he found no declared illness, and that he saw no need to come back, unless it got worse. And I was blind enough not to notice that the poor little girl was declining noticeably. Saturday evening, she came down with us again; they always gave him fat broth with a little vermicelli and barley tea; she was so tired of it that the maid told me on Friday evening that it would be better to give her a light meal. I listened to that; the little one ate it twice on Saturday, she was so happy that I gave her another on Sunday, at noon; this is what I regret and will regret all my life; however, I don't think that was the cause of her death, as she was going away in languor. Sunday evening the oppression took hold of her and I immediately sent for the doctor. He was not there and only came on Monday morning. He told me that the child had mucous fever with an engorged lung, that she was in very great danger and that she should only be given broth. However, he allowed me to add a little vermicelli or semolina to it, when I told her that she would not like to drink clear broth. After she left, I looked at her sadly, her eyes were dull, there was no life, and I started crying. Then she surrounded me with her two little arms and comforted me as best she could; all day she did nothing but say, "My poor little mother who cried!" I spent the night near her, a very bad night. In the morning, she was asked if she wanted to take her broth; she said yes, but couldn't swallow it. However, she made a supreme effort, saying to me: "If I eat it, will you like me better?" So she took it all, but afterwards she suffered terribly and didn't know what to do. She was looking at a bottle of potion the doctor had ordered for her and wanted to drink it, saying that when it was all drunk, she would be healed. Then, around a quarter to ten, she said to me: "Yes, presently, I'm going to be cured, yes, right away..." At the same time, while I was supporting her, her little head fell on my shoulder, her eyes closed, then five minutes later she no longer existed...
It made an impression on me that I will never forget; I didn't expect this sudden ending, nor did my husband. When he came home, and saw his poor little girl dead, he began to sob, exclaiming: “My little Hélène! my little Helen! Then we offered it together to God.
And now I'm left with the stinging remorse of having fed him. My dear brother, do you think that is what caused him to die? I beg you, tell me, as you think, and yet I was very embarrassed, I was afraid that she would weaken too much.
A fortnight ago today, the maid's father came to our house. The little one had been unwell for three days; he said to his daughter: "You won't take care of her for long, she's a child who is dying of languor." He was right, and I couldn't see it! I sometimes gave her, to support her, toast with wine, she liked that so much, perhaps it was contrary to her, I blame myself for everything. Before the funeral, I spent the night near this poor darling, she was even more beautiful dead than alive. It was I who dressed her and put her in the coffin; I thought I was going to die of it, but I didn't want the others to touch her. The church was full of people at his burial. His grave is next to that of his grandfather. I am very sad, write to me if you can, to console me.
Born September 20, 1866
Died February 14, 1867
Letters from Mrs. Martin
January 13, 1867 to Mrs. Guérin: I had the pleasure of seeing my little Joseph on the first of the year. For his New Year's Eve, I dressed him like a prince; if you only knew how handsome he was, how heartily he laughed! My husband told me that “I walked him around like a wooden saint. 'I did see it, indeed, as a curiosity. But... O vanity of the joys of this world! The next day, at three o'clock in the morning, a very loud knocking is heard at the door; we get up, we go to open the door and we are told: "Come quickly, your little boy is in very bad shape, we are afraid he will die." You think I haven't been getting dressed for long and here I am on my way to the countryside, on the coldest night, despite the snow and the ice. I didn't ask my husband to come with me, I wasn't afraid, I would have crossed a forest alone, but he didn't want to let me go without him.
The poor little boy had severe erysipelas, and his face was in a pitiful state. The doctor told me that he was in very great danger, well, I could see him already dead!... But the good Lord hadn't made me wait so long for a boy to take him away from me so soon, he wants him. leave, he is now in full health. But would you believe that I was accused of what had happened because I had brought him to Alençon in too cold weather. As you can see, I paid dearly for my New Year's Day pleasure, but no one will catch me there again..
Joseph Jean-Baptiste Martin
Born December 19, 1867
Died August 24, 1868
Letters from Mrs. Martin
March 23, 1868 to M. Guérin: ...My little boy is very nice too. It's the portrait of the first, I've never had children who look so alike. Provided that they do not look alike to the end! I'm always afraid that this little one will fly away like the other one. It is very strong, but it looks bad, like the previous one, which displeases me excessively. The good Saint Joseph will leave me this one, I hope, he's had enough of one. He was kind enough to send me another as soon as I gave him the first. It is very certain that I owe the latter only to his special intercession. Last year, I made a novena during his month and I finished it on his feast day; nine months later, day for day, he answered me. As you see, he couldn't have done better.
April 14, 1868 to Mrs. Guérin: ...the children always have some misery, I'm so used to it for mine, that I take my side. However, I had many reasons for anxiety about the youngest who was very ill three weeks ago. The nurse came in sobbing to tell me that there was no hope, that he was taken just like his little brother. The fear of seeing him die in her home frightened her so much that she wanted to give it back to me. The doctor went there right away and found that he had bronchitis; he was cared for as well as possible; now he is completely cured. We went to see him today. He smiled at his father and at me, as if he knew us. I am very deprived of not having him with us and I can't wait until the moment to take him back has come, although I am afraid in advance of the additional embarrassment that this will cause us, because we are not lacking in work. here; if I had three times less, I would still have enough not to be often idle, but it's such a sweet job to take care of your grandchildren!
May 1868 to Mme Guérin: The last little Joseph is still there, he is still ill. It's been three months since he suffered from bronchitis which put him in a sad state; last week we thought he was going to die. The doctor had him put a blister between his two shoulders, we left it for several days. Imagine how this poor child must have suffered! And with that a continual cough and a tightness that choked him. I went to see him twice a day; in the morning, I left at five o'clock, and in the evening at eight o'clock, and I always returned with a heavy heart.
August 11, 1868 to M. Guérin: Little Joseph has been home for a month. The nurse having her disabled mother, I saw that she had too much to do and I preferred to withdraw it. He is still sick; He has had a bowel disease for six weeks, his limbs are no bigger than he was at three months. I have a lot of sorrow and tribulations of all kinds.
August 23, 1868 to M. Guérin: I think we're going to have the misfortune of losing little Joseph again, he's at his wit's end. Louis assured me this morning that it would take a miracle to save him, everyone tells me as much. He is much worse since Tuesday. Until then, his condition was not serious and did not prevent him from sleeping or eating, he even seemed not to suffer, because he was very cheerful and never cried, only he did not enjoy himself. For five days, he vomits everything he takes. I saw two doctors; one didn't order me anything, the other not much; I believe they have no hope of saving him. I'm really discouraged, I don't even have the strength to treat him anymore, it tears my heart out to see a little being in so much pain. He has only a plaintive cry. For forty-eight hours, he has not slept a wink. He bends double under the force of pain. When you get this letter, he'll probably be dead. So, my dear friends, if you come, you see the pleasure that awaits you! However, I still hope, I can't imagine that the good Lord won't leave my dear little boy to me. I will write to you in two or three days. If the child is better, you will have to come as agreed, otherwise, delay your trip for eight days, because we would not be able to receive you.
August 24, 1868 to M. Guérin: My dear little Joseph died this morning at 7 o'clock. I was alone with him. He had a night of cruel suffering, and I asked with tears for his deliverance. My heart was relieved when I saw him breathe his last.
August 29, 1868 to Mrs. Guérin: My dear little angel who was so beautiful, we had to part with it!
Born August 16, 1870
Died October 8, 1870
Letters from Mrs. Martin
August 17, 1870 to Mrs. Guérin: My little Marie-Mélanie-Thérèse was born, yesterday Tuesday, at eleven o'clock in the evening; she is very lively, very nice, but not fat, she weighs only four pounds two hundred. I hesitate to put her in foster care. I don't know yet exactly what I'm going to decide.
August 23, 1870 to Mrs. Guérin: my little Marie‑Mélanie‑Thérèse is a wet nurse (we call her Thérèse). I kept her four days and I tried to breastfeed her, unfortunately, that wasn't enough, we had to make her drink from a bottle; on the third day she was seized with such an upset stomach that the doctor told me that there was not an hour to lose, that a nurse had to be found for her immediately. , in Alençon, on which I had very good information, I gave it to him on Saturday evening. The next day, the child was fine, but I'm not happy to have put her in foster care, I wanted to bring her up by taking on a maid to help me. make her drink from a bottle; on the third day she suffered from such an upset stomach that the doctor told me that there was not an hour to lose, that a nurse had to be found for her immediately.
October 8, 1870....My little Thérèse died today, Saturday, at one o'clock in the afternoon. Last Sunday, I thought she was saved. She was much better and had gained three hundred grams in the week. The same day, towards evening, she began to give back what she was taking. On Wednesday, she felt worse. Thursday, she seemed better to me, she was laughing like she had never done before. The night was very good and on Friday morning, after the application of the doctor's prescription, she was dying. At noon, it was the end! Her agony began this morning, at half past ten, one cannot imagine what she suffered! I am desolate, I loved this child so much. With each new bereavement, for me, I always seem to love the child I am losing, more than the others. This one was nice as a bouquet, then it was only me who took care of her. Oh ! I would like to die too!
Born October 16, 1871
Died the same day
Son of Isidore Guérin and his wife Céline