Days 66-67

Hello everyone! This is a day late as we sat for an hour on the PA turnpike catching up on our sleep. You have heard that traveling for Kevin and me is always an adventure.

We have been praying for the past several weeks and asking you all to join us in praying for Mary Kate Rushing. She is a St. Jude patient who we knew and who was sent home recently. We prayed for her cure. We would ask Catie in prayer to ask Jesus to heal Mary Kate. Believing, hoping, praying and thinking that now that Catie is in heaven she can intercede on Mary Kate’s behalf. Well on Monday we received the news that Mary Kate had died during the night at her home in Greenville, Mississippi.

When the children came home from school we told them that Mary Kate had died. Molly simply responded “I know Mom.” “How do you know?” I questioned. “I had a dream,” was Molly’s response. Maggie’s reaction was very different. She was very sad. Not just because she knew Mary Kate, but because Maggie was always hopeful that Catie would successfully intercede and Mary Kate would be miraculously healed. This is the toughest part of being faith-filled and of living life with a positive attitude – you need to keep hoping!!!

The next question that all of the children asked was, when are we leaving to go to the funeral? I explained that they were not going that only I would be going and possibly Kevin. So today we are in Mississippi. That is what I love about my children and their faith and their eyes – their sight is so clear.To our children death is a part of life and just like life; death too should be celebrated and celebrated by them. Each and every one of the kids remembered meeting Mary Kate at St. Jude this summer. Mary Kate has an infectious love of life and living.

Catie and Mary Kate had different diseases. Catie was 100% compliant – both she and I thought that following the rules would lead to her cure. Catie always wore her mask to avoid infection. Catie always had her line securely taped up. At this point looking back, I don’t know if I led that charge of if Catie did. The belief that following the rules would lead us to a cure was why even 4 hours before Catie’s death I flushed her lines.

(Regina, Mary Kate’s mother, forgive me if this in any way upsets you) Mary Kate was not as compliant. She was often found playing on the playground with no mask on and Alyson, her sister, chasing her and telling her to put it on NOW! I vividly remember the night at Target House when someone announced to Regina “Mary Kate broke her line.” Everyone laughed until we realized that is was her central line (necessary for her treatment). In the end it didn’t matter that one was one way and another was not – Mary Kate and Catie have been together since Monday.

God does answer prayers. So keep praying. God does listen to us, we all are His children. So continue to talk with your Father. God doesn’t keep track of who is following the rules that He didn’t make. Follow them if it makes you happy and pleases someone you love. I still have no more answers than I did before Catie died. Today as I stood face to face with Regina, I could offer her no magic words of comfort. I hugged her tightly and I told her that I was there for her. Both Catie and Mary Kate had fought the good fight. I lost my precious daughter. I knew the war that she had been through and the pain that she felt. I could not take it away and more than any of you could take away my pain, but thank you again for being there for me.

At first when I read that Mary Kate had died it was very difficult. It was not the reliving of Catie’s death that was difficult but rather the two months that had passed gave me pause and new perspective. I had missed out on sharing the celebration of Catie’s life and death with anyone who had been there at St. Jude. That is why I wanted to be there for Regina and Alyson. As I madly packed and prepared, made arrangements for travel and for the five kids that were at home, I realized that I was going as much for me and for Catie as I was going for Alyson and Regina.

Death is simply a part of life. There is a theory that I have been working on as I find acceptance and joy in living. We as a society fight, hide and run from death and aging. It is a natural part of life, as natural as spring and births and love. We need to embrace it and grow through it and cry and allow ourselves time to grieve and be strengthened and then go on living. That is as true whether we are grieving someone close to us or someone in a tragic news story. (How many of you cried when Challenger exploded in the air or on 9/11?) It is true whether the person is old or young. It is even true if the death is the death of a pet.

Grieving is a sign that we loved and now have lost. I can’t imagine how sad I would be for the person who has never grieved – no matter the age of the person. Even a young child understands loss. Do not protect yourself from death and loss – experience it and grow through it. To protect yourself from such a feeling, is to limit who you were created to be – a human being made in the image and likeness of God Himself.

God filled you with these emotions and feelings to help us connect and experience life with one another not to live life alone. Jesus himself poured out his blood for us – trust me; He felt something. He emptied Himself in order to show us, through His example, how to love. What better example is there than that? None, that I have ever known.

Thank you to Regina, Alyson and the St. Joseph’s Church Community of Greenville, Mississippi for taking such good care of us. Thank you to Trevor and Pam for spreading the word about Catie’s Legacy back at St. Jude. It was wonderful to see you all and know that we will be in touch when the dust settles.


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

PS- Thanks to my dear friend who without reservation took all five kids so that we could go. God Bless you!

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