Molly versus M.E.

Over the past week I have been searching. Being an organized person searching is not something that I am particularly comfortable doing – it usually indicates that something is missing. Searching for the missing fifth shirt made sense when we were packing this past weekend, searching for a particular piece when doing a puzzle – SUDOKU or Jigsaw puzzles are two of my favorites – but searching for something unknown with no timeframe is just frustrating. I will give myself a preset amount of time to do my weekly Sudoku but when the time is up the puzzle finds itself in the recycling.

What exactly am I searching for now? I am searching for meaning and understanding. Maybe it is the same thing as asking God WHY? I tend to think of searching as more valuable because I actually may find the answer even if by accident. I guess I could also believe that God might actually answer my WHY question. Somehow this searching seems more active and therefore comforting.

This past week was very challenging. Kevin told me that the children had expressed concern to him over the upcoming summer vacation ’09. What would we do? Last summer ’08 was billed as the summer that was going to be all fun. It was to be the first summer of our marriage that we were not moving, pregnant or I was not nursing a newborn. Everyone was walking and talking and boy were we going to have a great time. “Kids start dreaming – what would you like to do this summer?” Name it and we will do it was my motto. Heck I was even looking at tents – I realize that might indicate camping to some, I was interested but unsure what else you would buy a tent for and yet not willing to commit. We all were dreaming.

Then Catie started talking about pain, stopped sleeping and well the rest is history. Everywhere we go there is either a memory of Catie having been there or we are blazing new trails without her and that is also painful. Either we are missing her and sad or we are moving on and leaving her – so to speak – and our current happiness is dampened a bit. So what do we do this summer? So many people ask – innocently as summer has just begun – “what are you doing this summer?” I want to scream again – “Why, do you need me to move on for your comfort?” I catch myself. Our summer only began on Friday, as school was let out one day early due to an extra unused snow day and people are simply asking out of curiosity. They are not even realizing who or what the ramifications to such a simple question could be – neither do I until I hear the question.

So summer has begun. Just like winter ended and no one asked if we were ready, so spring followed and now school is out and to the kids – it is summer. How is it going? Friday we all (the five kids and I) made it to Mass at noon and the post office. We are setting little goals. Today we all (the same five kids and I) made it to Mass at 9am – we were on time! We had to come home for breakfast and then go out again but we made it. Two days and two appointments each day we were on time for all. Not bad.

When Kevin told me that the kids were concerned I started to fall apart. Yes, it would be another change after Catie but I had begun to cherish the girl’s (M.E. and Molly) naptime and my two hours to myself to reflect and think after being there for everyone all morning. Now with all five kids home how would I ever get that time? How would I ever move forward with all that should be done? Not to mention I have only recently begun to actually allow myself time to grieve for Catie. My grieving only began after Catie’s birthday, what now? I try so very hard not to be sad around the kids and Kevin up until this past week because I could see how well they were all coping and I didn’t want to drag them down. I especially didn’t want to drag Kevin down.

Kevin is my love. The hole in my heart for us being apart is still there. It is like the hole that a child digs at the beach. They try to dig it close enough to the water’s edge so that they with their bucket can fill it up and yet keep the hole far enough away from the water’s edge that the ocean doesn’t fill it for them. Then they run back and forth filling and emptying their bucket and filling and watching their hole empty. All the while trying to find the balance between getting tired and keeping their hole full of the ocean water. That is what has been going on with Kevin and me. One moment of joy and our hole is full like a shift in the tide when in fact the hole is gone completely. However, there is also a moment of rest and the hole empties completely and all that is left is the hole and the emptiness or in our actual case the missing and sadness that comes from having one less child is all that remains.

That is how I feel. Is that how Kevin feels? Everything around me reminds me of Catie and provides both comfort and longing. What does coming home feel like to Kevin? How do I share with him where I am and what kind of a risk am I taking? Am I opening up a wound that is healed for him? Last week after three awful nights I took this risk and found out what I have always known. I married the right guy.

Have you ever known in your heart that you married the right person? You knew it before they asked. You knew it when they asked. You knew it over the years. Last week my risk took us to that place where I realized once again that this is the only man for me. Kevin comes home not just to the memories of Catie but he comes home to us – those who love him. Coming home is not the difficult part; leaving each morning is, at least for Kevin. If I am sad about Catie I will always turn to Kevin and he will always be there for me. I can’t say the same about Molly.

After that third rough night Molly greeted me the next morning. Her eyes practically swollen shut from her allergies. I told her that she looked very tired and that tonight she should go to sleep sooner than she did the night before. Molly informed me that she could not get to sleep any earlier because “You two were fighting!” I looked at her and told her that we were not fighting but rather crying.” Molly looked at me with a most puzzled expression and replied “why?” I reminded her that our daughter had just died. She looked at me with an “Oh that” expression. Then she reminded me that I should not be sad because “Catie was in heaven.” “But we still miss her,” I whisper. “Don’t worry Mom at your age you will be there soon enough.” You have to be awake to deal with Molly and her version of reality so early in the morning.

This is where I am. I am sad and I miss Catie. I love my other children. I am emotionally raw and my reactions are raw as well. When I am sad I cry; angry I yell; frustrated I kind of growl; happy I laugh until I cry and joyful I hug those that I am with at the moment. I try to keep myself in check for the Fab 5 or the innocent random stranger and most times I do OK. I am my toughest critic. Last week this just was not working. Two of my dear friends tried to help. One friend hearing the sadness and emptiness in my voice arranged with the help of her husband for a lovely evening in Annapolis followed by a stay at a Historic Bed and Breakfast. She even offered to watch the kids. Another friend showed up with dinner one evening when all I had nothing left for anyone. Kevin arrived home that night to find me asleep in my favorite chair at 5PM.

I had sat in the chair with the intention of reading to M.E., who earlier that day informed me that all I needed was to be in her arms. When the older children asked what was for dinner I simply answered “food.” Eat what you want to eat – cereal works for me. If my grandfather (GP) was here he would have ice cream. That night for dinner I had two cups of tea and one cup of coffee. Who needs food when one is sad and sleep deprived?

The next night we had company over for dinner and all enjoyed the lovely spread provided the night before. We sat out on the deck and laughed and enjoyed each other until the fire died down – around 10pm. As I crawled into bed that night I began to formulate an idea that solidified this weekend. We will always miss Catie. We may always allow ourselves to wonder what Catie would do or say, how she would have handled a situation, what she would have become and how she would have looked and made a difference in our lives and yet will any of us forget the difference that she has already made?

How many positive things have been done because she walked into our lives and each of us allowed her to have an impact on our lives? Kevin and I co-created Catie out of our love. She is a part of us. For Catie to leave us without leaving a hole in us would not be possible. What Catie left behind however is a challenge to all of us to live and strive to do more in our own lives. For me Catie has challenged me to do more in my marriage and for my family, for our church and our community; to make her proud and to make sure that I join her in heaven for eternity with Jesus Christ our Savior, the Holy Spirit our strength, and God our Father.

Yesterday at Mass Father told people that his own understanding of the Trinity – three persons in one God was not simply what he believes. It is something that he understands and knows as he has grown in his faith and trust in God. And so ends my current search as I, too, do not simply believe that I can spend the rest of my life missing my sweet Catie. I could, but what I would ultimately be missing would be more than just my beautiful daughter. I would be missing the point of the resurrection in the second person of the Trinity. I would be missing the knowledge and understanding that Catie is as forever with us as she is with God in heaven. Trusting that fact and continuing to live out God’s will for my life will bring me exactly where I wish to be – with Catie again and the next time it will be in heaven.

Join me will you? And for today join me in trying to live up to Catie’s challenges and examples of making your corner of the world a better place for those you love.

God Bless to all,

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

P.S. There are many people out there who have recently asked for our prayers. We have heard all of you and we are praying.

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