Communication and Treasures

Communication is vital in all relationships. There are times when distance can make communicating more difficult or it can elevate our individual need to communicate, making communicating more of a priority. It is unfortunate however that many of us take for granted the gift of communicating; specifically with those that are a part of our everyday lives. We often rely daily on scribbled notes, text messages, voice mail, e-mail and a phone call to communicate with others. Each of these methods has a purpose and a function – thanks to them you are able to read and follow Catie’s Story. None of these methods offers what a visit or one on one conversation can offer.

Sometimes it takes distance to more fully understand how important communicating is with those we love. In life the things we do everyday can become mundane and at times we long for relief from the mundane. We should never place communicating or sharing who we are into the category of the mundane. Life is unexpected and there are many moments that will never come again. Many of us understand this or have had to re-learn this lesson time and time again. For those who have said good-bye to a loved one and will wait for eternal life to be reunited, I know you would do almost anything to get one more chance to see, hug, kiss, listen to and tell that someone “I love you.”

Our need and desire to communicate what was going on with Catie grew over time. When Catie was first unable to sleep but before she was diagnosed we did not share or communicate what we were experiencing. When Catie’s tumor was discovered we turned to those we loved and knew to have strong faith to support us physically and spiritually. As our needs continued to grow so did our communication. The importance of communicating continued to grow as our family was separated. It is still beyond my ability to comprehend how many prayed with us and for Catie when we came home and traveled to Lourdes, France. Surely I believed with all of those prayers God would hear our plea and have mercy.

Now eight months have passed since Catie’s death and our desire to communicate still exists but it has changed. Within our family the dynamics have changed; we are down one and Catie’s role will never be replaced – how do we go on, who will fill the void? We need to be gentle and loving in our communication with one another and yet many times we are either hurting or not focusing beyond ourselves to the needs of others. There have been days when one of us is happy and living in the moment and another is sad and we choose not to communicate out of love for the other – we are thrilled that they are not sad and we don’t want to take their happiness away. This is all a part of the new us and we are learning to work with it and share and communicate in a new way.

I have begun to find that communication with others while so helpful at times doesn’t compare to communication with God – prayer. Prayer has been a part of our journey of life. Sharing our faith has brought us such joy and has been our glue, (especially in the last 16 months). Each of us has found that while the other may not know where we are God does. When I see Kevin happy and laughing and playing with the kids and I have just found something of Catie’s that brings me to tears – something that meant something to just Catie and I – God is there for me. Prayer is always available to me. God has been there for Catie’s conception, life, death and He is with her now or more importantly Catie is there with God now! Prayer is my way of finding peace, and peace is more important than answers. Prayer is my way of accepting, which is more important than understanding. Prayer is my way of making a difference for others, which is more important for it is the reason that I was created and baptized a Catholic. I have a mission to go out and tell the world about God and His great love.

Last week was the parish mission about Heaven. It was tough to take but worth it. We have been busy working on the Catie’s Wish Foundation and upcoming events. We have been asked why we would start a foundation. Why not just raise and direct funds to St. Jude? The answer seems so obvious to me – because of all of you and the gifts of prayer that we have received through your prayers. When Catie first asked if we would raise the money to “treat everyone at St. Jude on my birthday” of course I said yes. I would have done anything for her to make her happy, to give her joy, to relieve any thoughts that she might have had about being forgotten. After we reached our goal this past April we began to realize that all the money in the world would not find a cure for the next kid with a spinal ATRT. This tumor is so rare. To find a cure you do need research but you also need patients and this tumor doesn’t come around every day. So the money that we are raising is for the children that are there and so are our prayers – time is needed for a cure – time that most of Catie’s friends didn’t have. We met many kids at St. Jude and there are only ten who are still fighting, the rest are with Catie in heaven. Catie’s Wish is meant to serve the children there now, to make life a bit easier on them and their parents and siblings. It was at St. Jude that Catie first understood what it felt like to have a real need. Catie wanted to be cured. She wanted to come home.

Last night we drove the kids to Cold Stone Creamery to participate in their 8th Annual Ice Cream Social. They raise money for Make a Wish. Through the generosity of Make a Wish we all took Catie to Lourdes to be cured and we wanted to support their efforts. We arrived late, almost at the end of the ice cream social – darn GPS – and when we arrived the children all happily shared with the ladies that they had been on a Make a Wish trip. As everyone was enjoying their ice cream I shared Catie’s experience with Make a Wish. Have you heard this? When Catie first met her Social Worker, Jennifer, she explained that Catie was eligible for a Make a Wish. Catie said “cool, that she would like to go home.” Jennifer smiled and explained what she meant a little better. Catie then thought about this for two weeks. I asked her if she wanted my help and she said no. Then she told me that she was ready to tell Jennifer what her wish was. Jennifer sat there opposite Catie with a huge grin on her face and Catie began “I want to have a play date with two friends.” Tears were in our eyes as Jennifer explained that Catie needed to think bigger. Catie timidly offered “Three friends?” Many people offered to help Catie decide what her wish could be when she was home between radiation and chemo – but she wanted to do this on her own.

Soon after we returned to St. Jude we saw Jennifer again and Catie told her that she was ready. Catie explained that she had a two part wish. Jennifer patiently explained that she could have only one wish. Catie explained that she had one wish for if she was cured and another one for if she was not cured. So while she was ready she was not ready because the doctors were still trying to cure her. If Catie was cured she wanted to go home and have a play house built in the backyard. She had specifics – it was to look like a small Cracker Barrel, have a front porch for 8 rocking chairs, store on one side, restaurant on the other and kitchen in back. Catie also wanted an upstairs so they could sleep in it and it would need electricity. Jennifer was so excited. She told Catie to draw her idea and start making plans. Catie then interrupted “but if the doctors can’t make me better can you send me to Lourdes, France so that Mary can make me better?” At this I remember holding tears back from falling and today I can still recall her voice and the manner in which she asked – God you have an amazingly faith-filled little girl with you – not that you need me to tell you. Well in November, 10 months ago, we started making plans for Catie to be miraculously cured in the waters at Lourdes.

Catie wasn’t, but many hearts today have understanding and peace knowing with certainty that Catie is in heaven with God. You need only to look at the pictures of Catie from our trip to Lourdes to know that she was already with God. Her fingers constantly touching the beads of her rosary bringing her closer to knowing and understanding Jesus’ life and death as she prayed and we all prayed with her. Today as I pray I too am seeing a transformation in my heart. I am less aware of Catie’s absence and more aware of her presence through prayer. Catie’s latest gift to me is teaching me that through communication with God she will always be with me.

I will always treasure St. Jude and the work they are doing and the mission behind their work to cure cancer. I will always treasure Make a Wish and be grateful for the wish they granted for our family. The memories we made in Lourdes, captured in many photos, will always comfort us knowing that we trusted God and tried everything. I will always treasure Chili’s and their commitment to St. Jude, as I will treasure our local Chili’s in Mechanicsburg for all they do each year to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. I will always treasure each and every one of you who has prayed and sacrificed and given to us and to Catie. I will always treasure a God who loves me so very much that He asked His own Son to come into this world to teach us how to communicate our love for one another and for God.

Please join us on Monday and eat out at Chili’s. Here in Mechanicsburg the 2nd Annual Family Fun Night starts at 4, though meals can be eaten throughout the day in the restaurant or taken to go. Come visit with us, we will be eating chips and salsa and we look forward to sharing time with you.

Until then tell each person you love that you love them, visit them if you can and wrap your arms around them – don’t think they are not going anywhere so it can wait. You may be the one who may not be around if you wait and they will be left without you in their life.

With love and gratitude,

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

PS- Please pray for Jon, Conor, Alex, Bernie, Chris, Elizabeth, Bunny and all those who have asked for our prayers and Catie’s intercession. Please pray for all those who are grieving. Please pray for all those you love.

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