There was so much anticipation before she was born. After you “lose one” anyone is bound to feel anxious, nervous, excited, scared with the next pregnancy…I felt hopeful. I remember all the things that Max and Maggie wanted to do before the baby came, as though the baby would somehow change things, but babies always do change things. Somehow when Catie arrived that hot April morning her presence immediately began the healing process needed after losing Gianna.

I remember playing cards that morning in the hospital. I remember feeling calm and relaxed. Maybe I remember everything incorrectly. Maybe I remember them like I remember most things with Catie – with a positive spin. As though she did nothing wrong. She wasn’t perfect but she was wonderful. She was fun. She had a great laugh. Her whole face would laugh with her – it wasn’t just a sound but a look too. Her eyes would close and her nose would scrunch up and her mouth would open and this lovely sound could be heard that would make you stop, listen and smile. Even typing about it I am smiling.obriens-004-2016-11-01t00_41_20-133

I remember taking her first set of photos once she began to smile on demand. You couldn’t be too funny or she would close her eyes completely. I remember when she first found her feet. She loved them and was so fun to watch. She would pull them to her mouth and roll onto her side, smiling and happy.

I remember how much she loved being a big sister. She took care of Mia just like Max and Maggie had taken care of her. I remember when she would build stacks of cups for Mia to knock over. After her tower was complete she would proudly “show” it to Mia who would crawl to the tower and knock the blocks down. Catie would immediately say “Keep her busy, keep her busy!” so she could re-build the tower.

I remember the first day she went outside to play with Maggie and Max. She was old enough to play outside without parents. Wow what a change! Max came inside dragging her not 30 minutes later. He was so upset. What could she have done? Max asked that we keep her inside. First we asked what had happened. “Well we were playing tag with the other kids. Shawnie was ‘IT’ and he was chasing Morgan. Catie pulled down her pants to distract him, saving Morgan.” She was a crafty genius but grounded at 5.

I remember she took such pride in her work. She loved to tell you everything. One day she asked me to buy a book for her and I did. She read this book about a little girl who was sad and curled up with her arms around her knees and her head tucked in. She told me she had never felt that sad. I was glad. A few months later she was sick.

I remember a few precious memories from when she was sick. Mostly I remember praying that she would be better. Praying that I would wake up and feel the relief that this was just a bad dream. I remember Catie because that’s all I have are my memories. The only memories that can be added are the ways that her life continues to have an impact on my life and the lives of others.

I am so grateful to all of you who also are willing to let yourselves remember – either for me or for you – thank you. Catie would be a sophomore in High School, but I can’t or won’t (I don’t know which) imagine Catie past 7. She will always be 7 and healthy to me. That is how I hold on to her. Yet these past two weeks it has been a bit tougher than usual. Tomorrow is November 1st. Tomorrow Catie will have lived on earth as my daughter for the same number of days as she has been gone. I can barely allow myself to think that let alone type those words. I hope my fingers are on the correct keys otherwise this will be tough to edit as there are too many tears to see through. I think I can handle tomorrow. It is the day after that I dread. That day represents the day that she will have been in heaven longer than she was here with me. To me it feels as though she is getting farther away. It feels like she is shrinking and that is why I am trying so hard to remember. When I remember she gets bigger again – I need her to be bigger today, bigger right now.

We all have had to learn to how to hold onto our memories and how to deal with our loss. Some days it is simply easier than others. Last week I walked into the bank and the teller I have dealt with for years was no longer there. Was she on vacation? Was she sick? I have no idea but not seeing her or facing a change that was unexpected just really hit me. Little background this teller knows about Catie and always asks how the foundation is doing and how I am. Her absence caused me to become completely unglued and I began to cry. At which point the two tellers who were both women told me to calm down and that didn’t help at all. I was dealing with a routine thing – banking, but the simple change in teller was too much at that moment. Some simple changes can be hard and some challenging changes can be easy.

This fall Maggie left for college. As we have mentioned, she is studying nursing at DeSales University in Allentown, PA. She is less than 2 hours away. She has found a nice group of friends and seems happy whenever she texts or calls us. Many people have asked how this transition for us is – for us it has been fairly easy. dsc_0132Maggie is happy doing what she wants. Knowing that we can call her and hear her voice or get in the car and see her in less than 2 hours helps make it easy.

One day she and her new friends were watching Dancing with the Stars. Maggie mentioned that Catie did a commercial with Jason Taylor when he was a contestant on DWTS. As this is part of Maggie’s life and these are new friends she missed the part that they don’t know all of Catie’s story. So they asked and she answered telling them briefly about Catie. Then she realized that she is sitting in a room filled with crying people. She was fine – not upset; but this new ‘news’ was clearly upsetting to them. We realized that each of the kids as they get older have to figure out how to hold their memories and when and with whom they will share it. In some ways as the kids get older the circle of our family is less about Catie and in some ways that is hard.

Max is a senior at Trinity High School. He is busy as usual. He has finished his college applications and has already received acceptances from Pitt and Purdue to study engineering. He has also applied for an ROTC scholarship to be a Marine. He is a senior class officer, Kairos leader (Catholic Youth Retreat of High School Students), involved in sports (cross country, CYO basketball, swimming and track and field), helps with stage crew and can be found every weekend working at Panera Bread. He has just earned is Eagle Scout award

dsc_0151Mia is a freshman at Trinity High School. She has had a lot to adjust to with Maggie away. She is doing well in school. She helps with stage crew and looks forward to participating in both basketball and track and field. She is being the fun big sister Maggie was to her to both Molly and ME. She went to her first Homecoming Dance and Maggie and her college friends came home to help her prep for the dance. What fun!!

Molly is in seventh grade, is doing well in school, is growing like a weed, (went by Maggie and Mia and has set her sights on Max). She plays basketball for the school team and is finishing up her first Science Fair project.

M.E. is in fifth grade, is maturing wonderfully, loves school and her friends and also plays basketball for St. Joseph’s.

Catie is alive to all of them and she is to me as well. Remembering the moments in her life and the impact she has made and continues to make keeps her “present”. As much as these couple of days are going to be hard, sharing these thoughts with all of you and thinking back on my precious little Catie and allowing myself to remember her makes these days better, thank you.img_2427


God is good, all the time

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Mia, Molly, M.E., and always Catie and Gianna

One Response to “Memories”

  1. Marthe Terry says:

    My beloved Fab Family–Catie included. Happy All Saints Day to all! I am going through memories and grief as well. One week and one day ago, I lost one of my cherished friends with whom I used to work. She was a polio survivor and could run her electric wheelchair like a crazy race car driver, tooling around the office or out wherever Toni “Hot Wheels” went. It was she who taught me how to crochet–her way since her manual dexterity was impaired. I still do it her way to this day–tender memory of her. I still have the stained glass afghan she walked–er–talked me through. “Marf, ya did your colors wrong!” Tough and tender, said what she thought, never PC, no pity parties, a real character who had Jersey City street smarts and could handle anybody! I owe my yarn stash, pattern books, hooks and carpal tunnel surgery scar to Toni–all her “fault”. Our only consolation, dear family, is that your Catie is alive and gloriously well in heaven and my wonderful friend, Toni is dancing with the angels–free at last. May they both rest in peace. Keep cherishing those precious memories. The rest of the Fab gang look great–and so mature! God IS good, all the time! Love and hugs, Marthe (Only Toni could call me Marf!) :)