Faith is really seeing

Good evening friends and loved ones,

Tonight’s update will reflect the day we had, both in Memphis and in Mechanicsburg, and as such will have some good, some bad, and some ugly. We all have days that frustrate us, and in most cases, the causes of our frustration can have differing impacts upon us depending on what kind of day we are having. A survivor of the concentration camps once remarked that even when all possessions, freedoms, choices, and even your life has been taken from you, the one thing that you still own and control is your attitude. Life is what happens to us, how we choose to live is our response. Christine and I believe that there is value in our sharing and opening our life and the lives of our children with all of you. We, in faith, send a piece of who we are and what we are living to you as a prayer, not only as a means of joining together to storm heaven with a plea to cure Catie and get her through this, but as a prayer for you as well. A prayer that all of us are changed, nurtured, shaken, or awakened to who and what is most important in our respective lives. That is our hope for each of you, that Catie’s story makes a difference, that in some way it helps each and every one of us that have embarked on this journey with her become a better version of who we are.

So we begin with the news from Memphis. This afternoon, after a somewhat frustrating day where every appointment ran a few minutes long, and culminated in a missed shuttle from the hospital to Target House, Christine found a lump on Catie’s back around the midpoint of the surgical scar. As of right now, after a lot of poking and prodding, we, nor the doctors know what it is. It is probably, and hopefully nothing to be concerned about, yet in light of her condition, nothing is irrelevant….we will of course keep you posted. We are still having some email issues where messages are not getting through to people, another source of frustration. Catie is still not eating well, and as such mealtimes are a source of frustration and anxiety instead of the celebrations they are meant to be. And finally, the doctors have decided to go ahead and perform a spinal tap on Catie tomorrow morning to test her spinal fluid for the presence of cancerous cells, she is angry and scared. While the procedure is fairly routine, there has been some reluctance to invade her column so soon after surgery. In addition, the results of the test will almost certainly show positive because the sample will be taken from an area close to the original tumor. The issue will be if the doctors decide to alter the radiation treatment dosage as a result of the test, they may increase the amount of radiation to the brain, something we had been desperate to avoid. As Christine and I spoke on the phone today and went through the events, the veneer cracked and we found ourselves yelling at each other and even getting so silly as to argue about which of us had it worse. While we have been so overwhelmed and humbled by your support, there will still be days when the enormity of what has transpired in the last 50 days and what the next 8 months have instore for us will insidiously find its way past the hope and the optimism and attack us at the core of our being. That is why I began by talking about attitude, once we changed ours and put God back at the center of who we are and what we are doing, the pettiness, anger, and hopelessness fell away.

Life in Mechanicsburg was very exciting today. Aunt Lynn, Uncle John, Austin, Douglas, and Anna stopped in to see all of us on their way back to Dixie, and took Maggie, Max, and Mia to Hershey Park. Despite the rain which was very heavy at times, they all had a terrific time, (Thank you) All 10 of them are sleeping soundly, and I have taken a few naps while writing this, and have come up with the following words: jqliejjf and podkodakld. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to mass today, and came away with the following. Today is the feast of St Bridget of Sweden, and in examining her life, it appears she began her public ministry at the tender age of 7. The first reading today was from the beginning of the book of Jeremiah, and paraphrasing, the chapter begins with God selecting Jeremiah to be a prophet, and Jeremiah is reluctant because he is but a child. God reassures Jeremiah by telling him that God has known him since before he was born, and has a plan for him, and that God will give Jeremiah the words to speak. So I thought of a little seven year old girl who has been asked to be a prophet, asked by virtue of the rarity of her condition and the sphere of influence that grows more rapidly than her cancer to be a mouthpiece for God’s message. Christine and I do not write these emails, nor are they the story of our lives. This is Catie’s story, and she and God write each chapter daily, and we are charged with the task of chronicling the journey. Some days will be good, some will be bad, some will be ugly, this one had all three, which is why the message is so important. The events don’t matter as much as the attitude with which we accept them. On any given day, a missed shuttle bus could be a disaster, a blessing, an inconvenience, or innocuous; our attitude determines which one. I can remember many years ago driving on Route 280 in New Jersey in horrendous traffic and rain, and just being in a foul mood when I looked out the window and saw a faint rainbow. I had on a pair of sunglasses (purchased at RiteAid…come on now, we haven’t had a plug in a long time) and I took the glasses off to get a better view of the rainbow, and it disappeared. I put the glasses back on and the rainbow came back. I remember looking at the drivers in the cars surrounding me and thinking “they can’t see the rainbow”. I can see it because I have glasses on that have the right tinting to bring out the rainbow against the backdrop of thunderclouds. That is what faith is. It is putting on the right pair of glasses to help us “see” our lives and our circumstances as blessings not burdens, as grace-filled not empty and to see the people in our lives as tangible opportunities to see, hear, witness, and touch an invisible God in the presence of one another.

Thank you so much for sharing in this journey with us, and thank you Catie for enduring what you have and will so that we can grow closer to each other and God through you.

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