Day 47


Thank you for your continued prayers, they have reached us in Paris. When last we left you, Christine was putting the finishing touches on the packing, and she did an amazing job as we have had everything we have needed so far. We arrived at the Philly airport in a stretch Lincoln Navigator that could have held a football team, and was just perfect for the O’Brien eight and all of their luggage. All went according to plan and we even had enough time to deal with Catie’s wheelchair rolling away down the road in the rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, seeing David the chauffer chasing it before it rolled onto the highway was a treat. The agents at the AirFrance counter were first class all the way and treated Catie like the special girl she is. We arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare and met new friends in the gate area (as always). Fr. Keith arrived 4 hours early for his flight to make sure that he gave us a final blessing before we embarked, and his earliness was offset by Megan’s arrival as they were closing the door to the plane. Both of them arrived safely. On our flight, we were seated and treated to a fine meal. Afterwards, we all settled down for a good night’s rest. By 10:45 eastern time, all eight of the O’Briens were fast asleep. It was the best 6 minutes of the flight. Before and after these blessed moments, we played an impromptu game of Chinese fire drill, even though Christine and I had not known that the game was going on. Three times, I dozed and awoke a few moments later to different people sitting next to me, or empty seats. Molly was the most adventurous, no surprise here. Christine awoke after the only 5 minutes that she slept with an eyeshield that Molly had been given being used as handcuffs joining Christine’s right arm to Molly’s left leg. The new travel game of Twister is born. The one that she dropped into the toilet caused her a bit of anxiety as I explained that she could not have it back even though we were able to rescue it. Christine agreed with my decision as a parent. John, the young man traveling to Cape Town, South Africa by way of Paris will never forget Molly or M.E. as they may have left scars. All in all, it went well, and we arrived on time in Paris. As the last to deplane, we had a few more moments of fun on the plane while the ground crews tried to start the stairs and lifts that are rolled into position to allow passengers to disembark. Because Paris is caught in the grip of their coldest spell in 2 decades, as well as a snowstorm that they are not accustomed to, some delays are inevitable. Catie and Christine were escorted off of the plane on a wheelchair lift, and the rest of us went down the stairs. Expecting to meet moments later in the terminal, we were surprised 90 minutes later when we finally reunited at passport control. While I was struggling a bit with the well rested fab 5, Catie was charming and delightful with people she had met in the handicapped gate area at Philly and was last seen discussing the relative merits of hot water bottles which she can no longer sleep without.

From there, we proceeded to baggage claim where all of our luggage was ready and waiting for us including Catie’s wheelchair. We were then whisked to the Hotel Troyon, a block from the Champs Elysees and the Arch de Triumph. We checked into our rooms, met up with Grammy, Poppy, Mom-Mom, Da, Aunt KC, Megan and Fr. Keith. Maggie and Max went out sight seeing with the gang while the rest of us took a few hours of rest to prepare us for the remainder of the day. Catie did remarkably well, but kept insisting that she was hungry and essentially told me that I was a failure as a father if I could not find her pasta and green beans for dinner. I calmly explained that we were in Paris not Rome, and she was undeterred in her request. The Holy Spirit once again hooked us up and we found a wonderful restaurant where they sat the 19 of us in a back room and proceeded to attend to our every need for 2 hours. They went out of their way especially with the kids and we are looking forward to seeing Paul and the rest of the wonderful people again soon.

All six of the kids returned from the restaurant and went right to sleep. Molly needed a bit of rest because at 3am she was singing and dancing on the balcony off of her room in time with the nightclub across the street. I can’t wait for her to be a teenager! Christine and I caught our second wind and with my parents on call, we took Megan, KC, and Uncle Sean off for a midnight adventure through Paris. Despite the cold and a few complainers in the group, (no names), we had a great time and returned to bed tired but very happy and in love at 2am. Morning dawned and we were able to wake all of the kids without any issue and were on a Paris city tour by 10am. Isabelle did a great job of showing us the sights by car, and we even were able to get out and walk around at Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur. She delivered us at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal for a 3pm mass with the sisters and Fr. Keith, and we spent some time in a beautiful and special place where Catie’s saint (St. Catherine Laboure) had been visited by Mary the mother of God and was asked to commission the striking of a medal that we as a family and millions of Catholics around the world wear proudly. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and spiritually enriching time and the sisters could not have been more welcoming. Once again, Catie opens doors and hearts and we are blessed to be along for the journey.

The rest of Saturday included a long walk around Paris, a meal at a pizza and pasta restaurant, (Catie has still not figured out that this is Paris), and another long walk and cab ride back to the hotel. Again the kids all went to bed really well, and we were again blessed to be able to go out on the town, this time for a cruise down the Seine beginning and ending at the Eiffel Tower. The evening was cut short by a call from back at the hotel that Catie had awoken in pain, but thanks to quick work and attentiveness by Aunt Pilar and Uncle Sean, by the time we arrived 8 minutes later, she was already feeling better. In fact she joined us in the restaurant in the hotel lobby for a chocolate crepe and pizza and is back in bed and sleeping soundly.

Christine has been nothing short of amazing. Where she finds the energy, the organization, and the calm, I can only imagine. I pray just as much as she does, but I think God likes her better. I don’t blame Him, I do as well. We are getting up early tomorrow morning as Fr. Keith has arranged for us to celebrate Mass at Sacré Coeur the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we are honored and grateful. After mass we will grab some food, (hopefully not pizza and pasta), and then fly to Lourdes to continue our pilgrimage. Fr. Keith has given us a word to concentrate on as we make our way on the path that God has set before us. The word is trust. We need to trust that God has this all taken care of. There is a plan, and just because we don’t know what it is does not make it any less wonderful and eternal. Our knowledge of the plan adds nothing to its beauty and blessedness, and so we trust. Please know that He has a plan for you as well and asks only for your faith in Him.

Discover more from Catie's Wish Foundation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Comments are closed.