The Cure for Sorrow

Good evening Catie followers,

It is my fervent hope and prayer that this message finds you well, immersed in God’s abundant love and filled with peace. Another week has come and gone and like many of the ones preceding it, this one had its share of blessings, joys, sorrows, and another O’Brien kid birthday. Molly turned five, and it will be one of God’s miracles if we can get her to act her age rather than the thirty something she usually acts. It is amazing to me how many times Molly (a.k.a. Christine Jr.) tells me to do something and without a thought I begin to do her bidding and have to catch myself and remind us both who is the parent and who is the child. It must be the blue eyes and the curly hair. I just respond “yes dear” and do what I’m told!

Christine’s sorrow this past week was palpable and on one night in particular, I held her in my arms for hours as tears continued to fall and in between sobs she began to ask anew; “why?” It is easy to advise against asking “why”, and I thank God that as I held the love of my life and witnessed her pain that I did not offer such advice. I held her as I had held my precious little Catie last year and offered no words of comfort, but merely my presence, my prayers, and my desire to take the pain away, even if it meant accepting it as my own.

This journey has taught me many things about myself, about relationships, and about life. My tendency when faced with a problem, either my own or someone else’s is to immediately look for a way to fix it. There has to be a solution, so let’s not waste any time, let’s find it, implement it, and the problem will be gone! How annoying I must have been to the people I love as they shared their struggles and longed for understanding and received a “work plan” instead. Sometimes when someone says they are thirsty, they really don’t want a glass of water, they want another human being to let them know that being thirsty is “normal” because it happens to all of us. The desire to know that your reaction is acceptable because someone else has felt the same way outweighs the actual desire for quenching the thirst. That is probably one of the reasons support groups exist, not to offer solutions to problems but to offer the knowledge that the road you are traveling has been traveled and survived before.

So as I held Christine, I was blessed with one of the lesser known gifts of the Holy Spirit, silence. I had the wisdom to shut up and not try to fix the problem. All I needed to do was be there for her, to let her know that she was not alone, not by proclaiming it, but by simply offering my presence. (I also went and grabbed M.E. and brought her in bed with us, nothing like a 3-year old filled with unconditional love and a face full of smiles to begin the process of recovery from sorrow.) We should NEVER underestimate the value of our own presence in the lives of the people we love. The ability to “be there” for someone is all about physical presence. My job as a husband is to be there for Christine. My job as a father is to be there for the fab-5. Phone calls, e-mails, and letters only go so far. Nothing can take the place of a hug for or from someone you love. I can’t hug Catie, and at times that very thought stops me in my tracks; but I can hug Max, and I can hug Maggie, Mia, Molly, and M.E., and you can hug the people in your life. What defines us is whether we make the most of the opportunity to really “be there” for the people we love, or spend our days regretting the fact that we weren’t when they are gone.

Thus ends the “relationship tips” section of the update. On to the news. The Catie’s Wish Foundation continues to grow roots that will in time produce growth and fruit. The website design framework is complete and it is time to put it out for bid. May God guide us in this and all of our decisions. We have begun to contact those we have prayerfully selected to lead the foundation through its formation and we are honored by their loving and generous offer of service. Because we were so blessed by the outpouring of support in year one, our goal of $1.4 million by next April 23rd is well on its way. This allows us to nurture and plant the foundation carefully so that we are sure of God’s blessing and will for us and for Catie’s Wish. The cornerstone of the Catie’s Wish is the mission statement, “Eradicating pediatric cancer through prayer and research.” As such, the acceptance by Toni Groves as the Director of the Catie’s Wish Prayer Partners is a special blessing for us. Toni will be responsible for taking Catie and Christine’s vision of prayerful support for an end to pediatric cancer and making it a reality. To give you an idea of what we believe the visual realization of this may be, picture a calendar with the dates filled with pictures and notes from prayer groups around the world who have taken “where two or more are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst” and focused their collective prayers on this mission given to us by Catie. That calendar along with the Dress-Down Day calendar directed by Patty Stephens will provide the prayer and the funding for research to save the next kid and make Catie’s sacrifice worthwhile and her Wish a reality.

The fab-5 are doing well and enjoying their summer and the highlight of each day is when they bound down the stairs and ask Christine how the “kids” are doing. The “kids” are all of the St. Jude children whose stories we follow and who were patients with Catie. As Christine reads one update after another, the fab-5 respond to good news and progress with fist pumps and heavenly high fives with Catie and with each bit of bad news and setbacks, they yell, “come on Catie, you can do it!” In God’s own time they will witness the miracles of healing for these children, and I am so proud to be their father as they find a depth of hopefulness that I know is the fruit of their relationship with their heavenly Father. They are good kids one and all, and they have a wonderful mom. In many ways, I am so blessed; thank you God. And thank all of you who continue to journey with us, you are true blessings as well, and it is our hope and fervent prayer that you are showered today with the beauty of God’s comforting love and with the beatific vision to “see” His love in the presence of all those you encounter.

May God bless you and the work of your hands,

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

Please continue to pray for Catie’s friends at St. Jude – Elizabeth, Dax, Alex, Sean, Tala, Marit, Jonah, Brayden, Hunter and those that we have come to know like Sydney, Christian, Molly and Maggie. Prayers of thanksgiving for two of Catie’s friends who after more than a year at St. Jude are home with their families enjoying all those hugs – way to go Trevor and Jack!! We are thrilled for you.

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