Day 29

Good evening fellow journeyers,

Another week has passed since Catie went home and thankfully we seem to have everyone healthy again. Maggie was the last to succumb, however it only affected her for a few hours and she is 100% yet again. One of the offshoots of having people sick in the house this week was that it made Catie’s death a great deal more poignant. As our resistance was down, our ability to deal positively with Catie’s absence in our physical lives was diminished as well. I found myself crying more as did Christine, and while some will postulate that for the first three weeks after her death we were in denial and that is why we were often happy, the reality is that happiness is what God always wants for us. The reason for our tears had more to do with our physical ailments than it did with saying farewell to our 7 year old.

Many updates ago, we shared a quotation that we attempt to live by, and it is one that appears on the Catie Team shirts. The only limit to God’s ability to work in your life is your level of trust. Trust is the key. If we are not 100% convinced that God ALWAYS has our best interests at heart, that He ALWAYS can be trusted to act on our behalf; that He is constantly taking the lemons that sometimes appear in our lives and making delicious lemonade; then we are denying His very nature. He can be trusted to take care of us, if we let Him. He wants what is best for us all the time, and out of love for us allows Himself to be limited in His ability to give us what is best for us by our own free will. Any parent can understand that. As our kids grow and we allow them more and more freedom, we have to let them make decisions that we know will cause them pain, but at some point, we have to stop making all of the decisions for them. As loving parents, we let them fall so that they can know that we will be there for them to help them get back up. When we are sad, God allows us to know with absolute certainty that not only is He with us in our sadness but that He is the way to rise above it and that He will be there for the triumph with us once we leave the sadness behind.

As I mentioned, Christine cried a great deal in the last 24 hours, and many of us tried to love and support her in the hopes of quelling the sadness. Molly hugged her and listened as Christine said, “I want Catie back!”. Molly pulled back, looked her straight in the eyes and said, “that’s never going to happen.” The wisdom of a four year old who thinks she is in charge. I just held the love of my life and offered my shoulder knowing that words could neither bring Catie back nor could they staunch the flow of tears. Only love can do that. Only love can fill us up from the wellspring of God’s abundance and find all of the empty places. What we needed was grace. We needed to be in God’s house and in His presence, and since we had been sick, we had missed our daily bread of life. Tonight, we returned to His house at St. Patrick church in Carlisle and celebrated mass as a family, and the sadness and tears went away. The music, some of which had been played at Catie’s funeral masses, filled us with hope and promise. The readings, especially the gospel account of the paralytic whose friends dropped him through a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching gave us the wisdom to again see Catie’s death and entrance into eternal life for the blessing that it was and is. I remembered as I listened to the story that the purpose of miraculous healings was not to grant the sick person a reprieve from illness and proximity to death, but to make the crowd around Jesus believe that He was the son of God. The intent was always to help people to believe. How fragile and frail would our faith in God be if we used Catie’s death as a reason or an excuse to become bitter and turn our backs on Him. If we are to follow Jesus, our mission is to do what He did; take the difficulties and crosses that life presents and not only accept them, but use them as a pathway to lead every one we meet on the journey home to the Father. Every life will have its share of Calvary moments. Our discipleship is about turning them into triumphant cavalry charges home.

As I thought about Catie’s first 29 days of eternal life, I harkened back to her first 29 days of this life. By the middle to end of may 2001, we had fed, changed, rocked, held, sung to, fed again, and changed again our little MaryCatherine hundreds of times. Even though she began sleeping through the night after only a few weeks, I am sure that we were more than a little sleep deprived with 3 little ones under 4 and a new house. By Day 29 of her life, the 8 months of sickness for Christine, the recovery from surgery, and my commuting back and forth to be with the kids and Christine were a distant memory. The joy of new life provided us with the perspective to realize that it had all been worth it. Now on Day 29 of her eternal life, after 8 months of sickness, recovery from surgery and treatment, and commuting back and forth from St. Jude are also becoming distant memories. The joy of Catie’s new life compels us to focus even more on God. Missing her is okay as it forces us to realize where she is and desire to get there to see her again. And how do we get there, by doing what Catie did; living each day here with one eye on eternity. Perhaps that is why the last few pictures of Catie have one eye shut, she was already making the transition to her new life.

May today have as many beautiful blessings for you as it did for me, and may you cherish each one.

Mine are named,

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

PS – Thank you to all of the local schools who have sent children’s artwork to us to fill our home. Mrs. Brymesser’s class at Dillsburg Elementary, the 5th grade at Holy Name of Jesus, and the 4th grade class at St. Patrick’s.

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