Give Yourself to Love

Sitting and writing is for many very soothing. Reading the typed words back can bring understanding and peace to a situation that is disconnected or even difficult. The past several weeks I have heard myself telling others that I just need to get off this constantly spinning merry-go-round. I can’t remember when I felt as though I boarded this ride but I am aboard and unhappy about the constant spinning. I need time – to think, to breath, to understand, to figure out what happened and how my life and family have changed. Time is not there. If I “get off” the ride and take time for myself I am again leaving the children and Kevin. Is that fair? Haven’t they been through enough on their own?

What about all the other new friends that I had made who are still fighting? I feel the need to be there for them. I so needed all of you last year – how can I not be there for others now? What about the countless prayer requests that we have received? Someone needs to pray those prayers. There is much to do and someone needs to do all that needs doing. There are moments in prayer that I think or feel I have done enough and then there are other moments when I so strongly feel I need to do more – or why else would God have brought pediatric cancer into our lives – and around I continue to go.

In the last update you all read (and several commented) about Kevin’s description of our vacation or at least the car ride portion of the vacation. From my perspective it was a bit different. When most of us think about going on vacation where we are going and/or what we are going to be doing is exciting enough or rewarding enough to put up with all the work that is involved. All that needs to be packed, or taken care of while we are away and whatever unforeseen, but no less certain, mishaps we might encounter as we head off to relax and enjoy life, or life that is a bit different from our everyday.

Vacation for the O’Brien’s usually involves going to South Carolina and visiting Kevin’s parents, Grammy and Poppy and seeing Uncle John and Aunt Lynn and cousins Austin, Douglas and Anna. We usually spend time on the beach, lately we have been riding bicycles on Wild Dunes, we attend Mass on Sunday at St. Benedict’s and go to Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist downtown in Charleston during the week and eat out at several favorite and a few new restaurants. There are many things that are wonderful about vacation – having Kevin around 24/7 is the best not just for me but for all of us.

This vacation was going to be different because it was the first time since Catie died that we all would be together for almost 10 days. Everyone can be on their best behavior for a weekend but an entire week is another story. I was feeling the pull of the merry-go-round and I didn’t want to spend another week telling the children how to do their chores or worse inspecting that they did them or didn’t do them. Chores are limited on vacation but they still exist – help with meals, laundry and cleaning up and putting your things away – still need to be taken care of to keep everyone happy when 9 people are living under one roof. Whose job is it?

Disciplining children is a responsibility that God gives to all parents. I have struggled throughout my motherhood and I don’t think that I am alone in this struggle. There must be a balance between love and discipline for all children. Since Catie’s death this has become more difficult for me and as my merry-go-round continues so do my struggles. Our vacation seemed to be caught in the middle of the merry-go-round and my struggle to discipline the Fab 5.

I have a great marriage to a wonderful man and yet we are not wired the same way. It is our belief that God brought us together to complete each other. Kevin has been described to me as formal and serious. I can understand that but I see Kevin as a balance between strong and gentle, faith-filled and questioning, intelligent and hilarious and I should because I am his wife. I am not Kevin and we work well in a balance together – but since Catie’s death some things, many things are different. Disciplining the Fab 5 is one of those things. If Kevin raises his voice I feel the need to protect. There are other times when I notice that one of the kids is not engaging as they usually do and I still protect them. Kevin and I have usually agreed in the past and now things are a bit touchy. Pray for us.

Fortunately as Kevin and I both struggled with how to react to the kids and each other over the ten days we spent together we realized that the most important thing was being together. There is a song called “Give Yourself to Love” that Kevin and I heard years ago that makes everything from love, to discipline, to death real simple. [I am not a big fan of the video but l enjoy the lyrics.] Here it is:

The line “if love is what you’re after give yourself to love” is exactly what I am after. Thank you Catie for helping me to understand all that is really important in life.

So understanding that, I knew that going to Memphis was the right thing to do. >I knew that being there for Michelle and DJ and Elizabeth Grace and praying not just for them but with them was giving myself to love. What a gift! See all that “being so giving” actually gave me the greatest gift. The merry-go-round stopped. From Saturday afternoon through Tuesday morning I was totally refreshed and had no need to stop the merry-go-round for God’s grace had stopped it for me. Tuesday morning I learned that Elizabeth Grace had died and the tears and sadness returned but it was very different. Instead of one of us grieving and the other comforting – Kevin and I have been able to comfort and grieve at the same time. We have been growing closer even despite all that we have faced and for that we both need to thank you and all of your prayers for us.

It is my firm belief that the only way anyone can handle ten states in ten days is by the grace of God.

What are you after? If it is love; give yourself to love.

With love,

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

PS Please continue to pray for the children, doctors and nurses at St. Jude and at other Children’s Hospitals. Pray for those that are home now: Pam and Trevor; Jack and Katie, Brayden, Hunter and Marit and their families. Please pray for those who have said their final good-byes here on earth: The Dunford Family, The Rushing Family, The Coffey Family, The Troup Family and The Thomas Family. Please pray for Peyton, Michele and Kathleen as they continue to recover from surgery. Please pray for all battling cancer young and old. Please pray for a happy death for anyone who is in need. Please remember to pray for yourselves and those you love.

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