No matter what happens my priorities will not change

Hello Everyone!

I hope many of you are more rested than Kevin and I are. Last night was a late night for both of us.

It was a late night for Kevin because he and Max boarded a flight to go home at 8pm. Kevin booked this flight to one reason; he will always give up sleep and do whatever it takes to spend as much time as he possibly can with me. Kevin’s love is life giving to me. He takes from himself (sleep) to give to me (more time together) and ultimately us, because that is who Kevin is. This model of loving another is called life giving. The flight arrived back in Newark, NJ (near my parents’ home where the rest of the kids are) after midnight. My mother picked them up and they all drove back home to Mom-Mom and Da’s. When Kevin arrived he put Max to bed and called me. I asked him to boot up the computer and read and edit the broadcast and send it to the website. Without complaining he did. Then he said good-night to me. Actually he said go to bed or finish reading your book – Hannah’s Gift.

It was a late night for me because after I said good night I finished reading my book. This story in many ways comforted me and tortured me emotionally. Hannah died. In the story, the mother is telling her family’s story. The mother explains how she is feeling. She explains how her son, Will who is six is handling everything. This little boy is sad and mourning and his mother is comforting him and yet has to deal with the honest and abrupt ways that a six year old faces death. In the story Will has been told that his sister has died. He comes into the room and asks to touch her. He touches her deceased body and asks when will Hannah start feeling dead? He then speaks to Hannah. He tells her he is going to get pizza he says he will check back in a little while to see if she is more dead then. This is so understandable for a child. Yet it was too much for me. I force these thoughts from my mind. This is not today’s reality for my family and yet the tears begin. The mother goes on to describe how she finds comfort within herself as a new baby grows within her. I begin to cry – not because we will lose Catie but because having another baby will not be apart of Catie’s story. The epilogue of the book tears right through me. I am sobbing and weeping so deeply. I am alone and yet not lonely. This mother writes in one sentence “Seven years after Hannah’s death Claude and I divorce.” Now I wish I had never read this book. I miss Kevin and I am so upset I want to reach out and have him comfort me, but he is not here. I want at the very least to hear his voice. I look at the clock it is 2:30am, 3:30 am where Kevin is. I sit and I pray. Now it is my turn to be life giving – not as life giving as Kevin was because I did choose to read that book that I was fairly certain would upset me – but I didn’t wake him up.

Many of you who read Catie’s Story will want facts and figures each day about Catie. I can understand that. You may not get that, because in Catie’s most painful moments she deserves her privacy. If something that has to happen over and over again, like changing her dressing, and Catie cries throughout this process I will not share this until Catie and I have conquered this pain. It is not that we only want to share Catie’s triumphs. It is simply because this is a story about Catie that she is not writing and she deserves to have some say in the matter. If something is wrong – a fact- we will convey it to you. Those facts really come on Tuesday’s after clinic visits while Catie is receiving Radiation Therapy. That will change when we return the end of September. I’ll let you know what day is the day for facts and figures. While Catie is in-patient everyday may have its own facts – we will see.

Kevin and I are the authors of Catie’s Story and no matter what happens each day even each moment with Catie my priorities will not change. My priorities are God, Kevin, the kids. My prayer life comes first. I can’t do anything without God. I know that He is always there for me, but acknowledging His love and power each day and praising Him gives meaning to my day. Kevin and I took a vow to love, honor and (Kevin says I promised to obey; well that is still in question – we have the vows on videotape so we can check if it becomes necessary) be faithful or true to one another. I made a promise and each day in Memphis being faithful is different. What I am going through or witnessing with Catie cannot be my world – it can only be a part of my world. I still need to remember that Kevin and I are a couple and as a couple we have 6 children. Right now, one of our children is like the lost sheep and I, as the shepherd, have left the others to go take care of our lost sheep. We still need to make time for us even in our time apart. We still need to focus on each other and our love. God will guide us through this together if we surrender and allow Him to be our guide. Below is a new favorite song of Catie and Christine called “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust.

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands One who is my Savior

I take Him at his word and deed
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find a need
For Him to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, but once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, my Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God He was, my God He is
My God He’s always gonna be

Yes, living, dying; let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave his place on High
And come for sinful men to die
You count it strange so once that I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God He was, My God He is, My God He’s always gonna be (x6)

My Savior lives, My Savior loves
My Savior lives, My Savior loves

Back on the homefront, in large part because of the assistance of many, the St. Joseph’s school year begins tomorrow for Maggie (5th grade, be careful Maggie, that’s when mom and dad met), Max (4th grade), and Mia (1st grade). What a difference a year makes. On this night last year, we were all living together in adjoining rooms at the Camp Hill Radisson, and we all woke up Monday morning and the kids (Maggie, Max, Catie, and Mia) all hopped in the car and went to school from the hotel. I believe we are ready. Breakfast is set, lunches are packed, supplies are neatly arranged in backpacks, uniforms are out and ironed, and brand new school shoes are ready to be worn for the first time, (with a backup pair of sneaks in the bags just in case). Sr. Michael Ann, the teachers and staff at the school as well as many of the families have been tremendous in getting me through the transition without Christine, and we are very grateful.

One radiation update from my recent visit to St. Jude’s. I accompanied Catie to her radiation visit on Friday. Thank God for technology and the people who have dedicated themselves to using it to help cure kids like Catie. The actual radiation chamber is sealed off from the rest of the facility by 12 inch thick blast door. There are a number of lasers on the walls and ceiling that allow the technicians to place Catie in exactly the same spot time after time, so that the radiation is delivered to only the area we want treated. They actually put her on an exact latitude and longitude. After she is settled and laying on her stomach with her head in a pillow, we all leave the room, the blast door is shut to keep us safe from the radiation that they will soon be targeting at my little girl, (if I could have ripped the door down or stayed with her and held her hand, I would have). Back in the control room, the last minute calibrations are completed and double-checked, and the radiation is delivered for 1 minute and 12 seconds while a klaxon alarm sounds letting everyone in the vicinity know that dangerous radiation is being released. You have no idea how long 1 minute and 12 seconds really is. I found myself desiring to beg the technician to shut the beam off just a little bit early to save her from some of the dosage. When Christine talks about surrender, that is what she means. Any father would run into a burning building to save his child, this is sort of like putting your child in the fire to save her. It takes more faith than I have, thank you God for giving me all the faith I need.

The kids are all asleep. Both Christine and I had the chance to spend some time with each of them, and they are all good. They are looking forward to school, and despite the craziness of the last few months, they genuinely had a good summer. Thank you to all of you who stepped up and helped deliver a dose of normal into this craziness.

May God bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you.


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

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