God’s Will

Over the past eleven days much has happened. Maggie and Max have finished their first year of swim team. The birthdays of Mia and Christine have been celebrated. Another of the children that we have been praying for has died; rest in peace Mary. Several of the children that we know and have mentioned before, Elizabeth Grace and Marit are in serious need of prayers as both are in ICU. A dear friend, through Catie’s Story, needs prayers for her adult daughter who is recovering from brain surgery. We have seen and heard from many friends who we have known over the years and as always it is so good to speak with you again. We have even begun more work for the future of the Catie’s Wish Foundation. We have passed the six month mark without anyone mentioning it.

Last Sunday, Kevin and I took M.E. with us and attended the viewing for Mary Coppa Coffey. We have prayed for this little girl for the past few months. We met her mother in May at a Remembrance Mass held for families who have lost children. Mary’s mother, Felicia has told us that she was strengthened by Catie’s story. Felicia asked everyone they knew to pray for the intercession of Catie to heal Mary. As I walked through the church and looked at the photos of Mary I was struck by the thought that Catie and Mary were two of the blessed ones. Each of these precious innocent girls, Mary and Catie, died in full knowledge and understanding of how very much they were loved and by whom. They both are now in heaven with God their Father, whose love they came to understand in baptism and continued to understand through the love of their families.

This struck me so much. Mary’s grandmother also struck me with her words. Upon meeting her Mrs. Coffey said, “Your daughter is the one who proclaimed herself to be a Saint.” I immediately wanted to correct her or being more gentle clear up any misunderstanding. At that point another thought struck me, how many of us live, love and serve the Lord in our daily lives and never think about our eternal lives. Shouldn’t we? Should we be planning on doing more to change the things that we are passionate about here on earth after we are in heaven? Is that possible?

On our trip home Kevin was relaxing in the ride while I was all stirred up with thoughts. I was trying to figure out how to bring all of these thoughts together and how to share them with Kevin. Well, true to my style, I just blurted it out  “Kevin I think I understand what God is telling us to do?” “About what?” Kevin asked. “About all the children who are dying without knowing the love of God,” was my answer. Kevin would have stopped had he not been cruising down the PA turnpike. “Are you crazy?” was Kevin’s next response. “No,” was mine. Over the last week it has been something that has continued to be the source of my thoughts and prayers.

I shared my ideas with many people. The Groves, Father Keith and our family shared dinner last week and all discussed the idea. Time and discernment is needed. Later last week I shared the idea with my parents. One of my father’s comments was it would be very difficult on me. I think my response was “Like Catie’s death wasn’t?” Later that weekend the idea was again shared with several of our friends from Malvern. So I will ask all of you reading this to pray for me and for my understanding of God’s will in my life. This may be where God is calling me – first I’d like to finish raising the Fab 5.

So all that is what was keeping me busy last week and Kevin was equally busy with his things. Is being busy a good thing? Not always. One of the things that I have learned throughout the past six months is that grieving, like death, happens whether you are ready or not. Some of us go through life and never realize how precious or fragile life is and one day death comes and life is over. Some are consumed with death, either their own or that of a loved one; being focused on death will neither delay death nor hurry it along. So we spend time and energy wondering how the children are, they need you when they need you. Their needs, like grief, can’t wait and can’t be scheduled.

Kevin was away last week. Being away when birthdays are being celebrated and the children are being difficult it not easy, nor is it easy when you are grieving to be away from the very people who help you through your grief. Kevin was only away for three days and yet not once in those three days did anyone provide an outlet for Kevin’s grief. So when Kevin returned he needed us and yet he wanted to be there for us – can you do both? Not easily. The transition was hard on all of us. When someone you love is hurting you want to understand it and fix it or blame the person or reason that has caused it. At least I do. This didn’t work out like that. Time is what Kevin needed and the weekend schedule didn’t allow for time. The weekend was packed with places to go and people to see.

The first stop was Friday when we dropped four of the kids at my parent’s and took Mia with Kevin and me into NYC. When you are an O’Brien girl and you turn seven you get your first American Girl doll. As Kevin was away for Mia’s birthday we decided that it would be neat to go into New York City to the store and let Mia pick out what she wanted. She, of course, wanted to get something for Catie’s doll, Sarah and for Maggie’s doll, Maria. Then she focused on herself. She wanted a doll that likes everything she likes. So Mia’s doll, also named Mia, has a bikini and loves to swim. How disappointed Mia was when we told her that her doll could not get wet?! “Then why does she have a bathing suit?” I had to keep reminding myself that Mia is just seven. As soon as the shopping was done so was Mia’s fascination of NYC and so we made a mad dash out of NY and arrived in Morristown in time for Vespers with Abbot Giles and the monks at St. Mary’s Abbey at Delbarton.

As we arrived home earlier than we had planned there was plenty of time to catch up with people in my parents’ neighborhood. One of my parents’ neighbors have four teenage sons, three that love and enjoy all the energy and excitement that five young kids provide. One of their sons needs prayers; he has as many eating issues as Catie did during chemo. Please pray that tonight he and his parents all sleep well. While there are frustrations and concerns when your teenager is out for the night and you are not sleeping there are just as many when a child is home and you are not sleeping and neither are they. Prayer is the answer.

After a brief visit at their home we walked up the street to visit Megan. ‘she and her sixth grade class gifted us in a most loving way. The children of the sixth grade class at St. James collected coins and money originally thinking that they would give it to the Catie Fund and then they decided that they wanted to give it to the Fab 5 for us to go out and share a memorable night. We asked Megan to join us and we are making plans to do just that in the end of August.

We then traveled back to PA were we met with many of our wonderful friends from Malvern at a party hosted by the Orr Family. On Sunday, a Mass was said for Catie at St. Columbkill and we were glad that we were able to be there. Again we were surrounded by the love that comes from God in the form of family and friends. Wherever we are able to celebrate mass, we are home because we are all part of God’s family. What a blessing. Candee thank you for all that you have done. You are one among many but this weekend your efforts stood out. There are so many amazing and wonderful people who have become a part of our lives and we are grateful for all of them. We thank God for each and every one of you and you are all in our prayers. In addition to those already mentioned please pray for our son Max’s friend, Jeff and Kevin’s sister Kathy. She is recovering from surgery after breast cancer.

Next on the agenda is Molly’s fifth birthday and the summer continues. Last night, we were treated to a magnificent sunset, (yes, more magnificent than the last 20 absolutely beautiful ones). Right alongside of it, there was a rainstorm that we had watched make its way to us from miles away. The kids were entranced. The combination of rain and melting sunshine was mesmerizing and so indicative of life. It is our choice to embrace the sunsets, the rain, or both. In all of it, God is there. May your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might. Judges 5:31

Praying that you make time to appreciate the fragile and precious folks who share your life,

May God bless you and hold you in His tender and loving embrace,

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

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