The large, dismal coffin All the details of my mother’s illness are still present to me and I recall especially the last weeks she spent on earth. Céline and I were like two poor little exiles.... The touching ceremony of the last anointing is also deeply impressed on my mind. I can still see the spot where I was by Céline’s side. All five of us were lined up according to age, and Papa was there too, sobbing. The day of Mama’s departure or the day after, Papa took me in his arms and said: “Come, kiss your poor little Mother for the last time.” Without a word I placed my lips on her forehead. I don’t recall having cried very much, neither did I speak to anyone about the feelings I experienced. I looked and listened in silence. No one had any time to pay attention to me, and I saw many things they would have hidden from me. For instance, once I was standing before the lid of the coffin, which had been placed upright in the hall. I stopped for a long time gazing at it. Though I’d never seen one before, I understood what it was. I was so little that in spite of Mama’s small stature, I had to raise my head to take in its full height. It appeared large and dismal. Manuscript A When Thérèse was four years old, the kingdom of childhood collapsed. Her mother, Zélie, suffered from breast cancer, which carried her off during the night of August 27-28, 1877. 24