A Touch of Heaven

Good evening Catie followers and prayer warriors,

This past weekend offered many glimpses of heaven and as we have so often shared with you in the past, all it took to “see” them were the eyes of faith. As we look back to what we were doing a year ago; as the reality of Catie’s cancer was taking hold, our updates were full of both hope and trepidation. Because we did not know the outcome of the battle Catie was waging, we had both the fear of the unknown and the blind faith that she would triumph. Hindsight presents us with perception filled vision but also provides us with the choice of how to look at the events of the past. Did Catie triumph in her battle, or was she defeated by her disease? Did the doctors charged with her treatment fail, or was the time we had with her a testament to their ability to prolong the inevitable? Did we, as parents, succeed in our mission as stated in our wedding vows to “accept children lovingly from God”? Would we, if given the choice, have traded the past year’s struggles for the joy that Catie brought to our lives in the time she was here on earth with us? For me, the answers are, yes, no, yes, and absolutely not! And here is why.

Three events this weekend offered the potential for sadness and sorrow or joy and pride. In each case, our response to the events was uniquely our own, and imbued with the free will offered by our loving Father, we each had a choice to make. A choice to allow for the events to cause us pain and feelings of loss, or a choice to be lifted by the gift and blessing that was there for the asking. On Saturday, we celebrated our nephew Alex’s graduation from eighth grade and the event was filled with blessings, fun, good food and wonderful opportunities to catch-up with family and friends. The fab 5 were in the pool within 5 minutes of arriving and emerged 5 hours later with wrinkled skin and smiles as big as could be. Halfway through the afternoon, we were blessed with a 5 minute downpour that Catie and Jim Berger arranged so that as it concluded it left behind a beautiful rainbow for all to enjoy. Catie’s godfather Jim presented us with a huge card that had been signed by many students at Christian Brothers Academy where he is a teacher. As tears began to well up, knowing that the card had been signed while Catie was still alive, I began to read the personal notes that the students had penned. With the heart and eyes of faith that I attempt to strengthen each day, their words filled me with joy instead of sorrow. Their prayers for Catie’s healing have been answered, she is out of pain and in communion with God as we all long to be. Thank you Jim, and thank you as well to your students.

On Sunday, we attended a picnic in town to say farewell to the Daugherty family who are moving out of town. The Daughertys have been wonderful to us in the past year, and we were sad to see them go and will miss them a great deal. While at the picnic, we were approached by a man who told us a beautiful story. Last year, he was volunteering at school and while he was there he felt someone hugging his leg. Believing that it was his daughter, he reached down, tussled her hair and hugged her back only to realize that it was not his daughter but another little girl. Catie looked up at him, flashed her smile and thanked him for coming to their classroom to read to the kids that day. It was great to hear the story and reinforce our belief that Catie touched countless lives in her life, in her battle, and in her eternal life.

Sunday night, at mass with the fab 5, I cringed as I watched Christine listen to the gospel account of Jarius’ daughter and Jesus’ healing of her. Christine has often asked why God did not heal Catie like He healed Jarius’ little girl. Knowing how difficult this particular passage was for Christine, I listened with ears of faith and asked God for understanding. This is what God allowed me to hear anew in this story that I had heard so many times before. After Jesus approached the wailing women who were weeping for the little girl who had died, He rebuked them and told them to stop weeping for the child was merely asleep. They scoffed at Him. With that, Jesus drew the parents to Him and told the little girl to wake at which point, she rose and began dancing. As I listened to this familiar story, a new thought came to me. As Jesus held Jarius and his wife, they were in communion with Him, and in that communion, they were able to experience the new life of their daughter. As Christine and I hold Jesus and accept His presence in the Eucharist, we are in communion with Him, and with the eyes of faith, we can see our daughter dancing. Turns out, Catie and Jarius’ daughter were both healed and risen from the dead by Jesus. As parents, we share the joy that Jarius’ parents felt, and the lesson we need to continue to focus on is that if we join with Jesus, we can truly see Catie dancing!

Heaven touches us everyday, in rainbows, in the people we encounter, in our living memories, and in our experiences with God.

May heaven touch you tonight and may it fill you with joy,

God bless you,

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Catie, Mia, Molly, and 3 year old today M.E.

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