Day 23

Thank you all for continuing to journey with us,

Eleven years ago tonight, my life changed drastically. A full two months before she was supposed to arrive, Margaret Mary (Maggie) came into our lives and I became a father. The day leading up to her birth was filled with concern and uncertainty. Christine was close to death as she struggled with pre-eclampsia and a blood pressure that was off the charts. Saving her life became the priority yet any action to curb Christine’s crisis affected the baby. The only way to deal with Christine and save her was to welcome Maggie into the world at 4 pounds and pray for the best. By 1:00 am, I KNEW two things without question. Number one, I need Christine in my life, I cannot live without her, and the very prospect of losing her was almost unbearable. Number two, after having held Maggie in my arms for the first time, and knowing her for all of 30 seconds, I would lay down my life for her. I would sacrifice for her, and I would take on anything that could threaten her and bear the brunt to save and protect her. Six more times (despite the doctor’s warnings) Christine sacrificed her body to awful pregnancies where she was at times incapacitated with nausea, and to deliveries through c-section. We accepted the loss of Gianna (pregnancy number 3) at 26 weeks, and welcomed Max, Catie, Mia, Molly, and M.E. and with that last pregnancy Christine sacrificed her uterus as well. Now, blessed to be the father of six here on earth, the same feeling exists. For any of them, Christine or any of the kids, I would lay down my very life. Certainly I would take on any pain or suffering they have to endure. Any parent understands that if I were given the opportunity to accept Catie’s illness as my own, I would not hesitate for a moment. That does not seem to be God’s plan for us at this point. As a Father, God watched His only Son innocently tortured and murdered. At any moment He could have taken away His own pain in seeing his child suffer, however His own plan would not have been fulfilled. Similarly, Catie’s tumor appears to be hers to carry, and her continued struggle must be to the benefit of God’s plan.

Today was another good day. Pain crept in and was dealt with quickly and the smile returned. We are learning constantly that Catie’s pain is gradually increasing and because she has such a strong will, she is able to deal with it and in some cases does not know that she is in pain until the medicine kicks in and then she notices the difference and only in retrospect realizes that she had been in pain. It is our job as parents to watch for the dimming of the smile and the quieting of the spirit and determine if it is pain related and try to keep her ahead of it and comfortable. St. Joseph’s put on their annual Christmas show last evening and the students and faculty did an amazing job of delivering a wonderful performance and a valuable message. Christine had our kids dressed in their Christmas finery and I watched each of them shine. Maggie confidently and beautifully sang with her class and is a true angel. Her wisdom and compassion are amazing. Max had a solo in the Christmas show and I was stunned by the clarity, strength, and beauty of his singing voice. It is a treat that he does not usually gift us with around the house. Catie, lovingly accepted back into her class, sat in front of them in her wheelchair and belted out each of the songs from a place deep in her heart. Mia was just Mia, beaming, social, and happily singing along with a level of pure joy that is infectious. Molly and M.E. sat with Christine and myself and sang along, danced, clapped, and smiled constantly. God, thank you for the blessing of being a father. I cannot say that the last eleven years have flown by because they have been filled with too many experiences, graces, blessings, and joys that have marked the days. Those memories have taken lifetimes to create, and they come flooding back as I gaze into the eyes of each of the precious gifts You have sent to me to love. God, the love you have for me is beyond comprehension. You have allowed me to be a part of Your Divine plan of creation, and You have gifted me further by allowing me to share my parenthood with Christine. Thank you to her and to You for coaxing me time and time again to co-create with You. The results are amazing.

At the beginning and end of the show we also had the honor and pleasure of spending a few moments with Bishop Kevin Rhodes who had come to the performance. He took the time beforehand to talk with Catie and bless her, and after the performance, he and Christine had a lengthy discussion about Catie and our family. He even stood patiently as we took a few photos with him and the kids. Earlier in the day, we celebrated Maggie’s birthday and reminisced about her birth and her short time in the NICU. The visit by my father who had been driving home to South Carolina from Baltimore when he heard about Maggie’s birth and had turned around and headed to New Jersey. Seeing her wrap her tiny hand around first his pinkie, and then later Christine’s taught me every lesson I ever need to know about unity.

Catie again went to school today and because of a snowstorm on Tuesday night and a resulting delayed opening, she was able to go for a full day. Classmates, faculty, and parent volunteers continue to be awesome in making her feel both special and included, a fine line to be sure, but one that they seem to be able to maintain beautifully. Thank you. Christine continues to stay close by and on call in the hallway and I am in awe of this beautiful woman who has created a life of sacrifice, not only in giving her body to bring these kids into this world, but in choosing to be there for each of them in whatever they need. It must be challenging at times with all that “needs” to be done to sit on call in a hallway outside a classroom and wait. While she sits, she has had innumerable conversations and wonderful moments of sharing and support. Sometimes she is even the one being supportive as people look to her for understanding. I know why they look to her, I do as well.

As we finish this update, it is 1am and Catie has joined us in bed to eat some ice cream. I wish I could capture for each of you the kid who joins us for these midnight parties. She is her most engaging, most joyous self.

Praying for a miracle,

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

Discover more from Catie's Wish Foundation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Comments are closed.