The Faith of our child

This is the second week of school and everything is going well. The kids are up and ready everyday. They seem excited to be back at school with their friends, growing and learning. Molly is equally excited about school to the point that she has asked that we leave her there for the whole day. Perspective is an interesting thing as I have been informed that one of her classmates has asked to come home before lunch because Molly leaves at that time. Even at five that grass can still be greener for someone other than you. Many people have asked how we are doing and I honestly tell them that we are doing well and I believe it.

Is that possible? Yes. Do we realize what has happened? Yes. Do all of us wish for Catie to walk down the stairs or in the door? No. I know that Kevin and I do. The kids are in a different place, at least the two little girls are. M.E. is always chatting with Catie and telling her stories and playing with Catie as though Catie were an imaginary person. Today, Molly had a heart to heart with me that I had to share.

There is a special time everyday when Molly and I read. I read whatever Molly wants me to read and then she reads some of Dick and Jane before she rests. Today Molly selected The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco. This book was given to the kids by Catie. Catie read this book the very first day she and I were at St. Jude. Patricia Polacco has become one of our favorite authors and we have read and enjoyed all of her books. This particular book is about a fifth grader who has cancer (leukemia) and the special bond that this child has with her friend and teacher. I told Molly that I didn’t think I was ready to read the story. Molly assured me that I would be OK because the story has a great ending. “It is not like Catie, Mom.” (As though that alone would make it OK.) I began to read the book. Molly sat next to me with great excitement. As I read the part in the story when the teacher shares with her class the fact that one of the students has cancer I was barely audible. Molly continued to encourage me. I continued to try to read and yet at this point in the book when the child is better and is returning to the class and being congratulated by the class I am just sobbing. (The unasked and unanswered why is right there in the front of my mind. All the peace and comfort that I have felt over the past week is gone and even as I am typing the tears continue to stream down my cheeks.) Molly looks at me and continues to tell me that the story is fine. “Turn to the last page and read the great ending,” she pleads with a great smile on her face. “Molly don’t you miss Catie?” I ask. “No!” Molly answers. “Why would I miss her? Don’t you know that God wanted her to be in heaven with Him?” Molly asks me. “Molly,” I ask, “why did God want Catie to be in heaven?” Her answer astounded me. “Mom, God knew how much Catie was struggling because of her tumor and He knew He could stop it in heaven,” Molly confidently answered. My eyes close at the simple trusting faith that Molly has and I begin to shake with tears. Molly grabs me and is hugging me so tightly it almost hurts. Molly is trying everything to comfort me, as she cannot understand why I am sad. Her eyes are looking into my tear filled eyes with question. “Molly, I miss Catie. There is a space in my heart that loves her and it is empty and it hurts,” I tell her. “It is OK Mom. You can love me more,” Molly answers.

Somehow we move from that moment and now she is resting in her bed. I carried her there – it was her suggestion of how I could love her more. I wanted to ask Molly if she remembers adding M.E. to our family – when you add another child you find a love you didn’t know was missing. Molly has no memories of adding anyone to her family at this point and thankfully because of her faith she has no memories of taking someone to love away. Molly simply continues to love Catie and understands that Catie is in heaven where one day we will all be. At five one day could mean a Saturday when today is Thursday, or it could mean Christmas in September, or it could mean one unknown day in the future when we are all called home to heaven.

Years ago Kevin described my emotions as a summer storm. Wild and varied and you want to be prepared for them but once they pass they leave behind in their wake a freshness or a newness like the vivid green of the grass after a summer storm. All I could think while I was crying and trying to explain my sorrow to Molly was how thrilled I was for her that she was not sad and what a blessing her faith is to me. Molly’s comments are also like a summer storm – like a hurricane – you need to batten down the hatches. Some of Molly’s comments are pretty hard to take regardless of the honesty and innocence that is behind them. When you look into her eyes you know that she is sharing what is real in her life and that her openness is a treasure; Molly is another treasure herself!

May all families understand the treasure of each member and celebrate the love they have for each other through their actions and prayers.

Peace be with you all,

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

P.S. Please pray for a special intention for a dear friend, for Samantha Sheridan, and for all fighting against cancer and other illnesses -especially Catie’s friends at St. Jude. As we are now in the month of September, we in Catie’s family would like to remind everyone that it is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Many of you may not be aware that Chili’s is the restaurant that helped St. Jude build the facility where Catie received most of her treatment. Now through September 30th, Chili’s® Grill & Bar restaurants around the country will observe this month and their mission to support St. Jude by inviting guests to join them during the sixth annual Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign. You can help by eating there and most importantly by eating there or by taking your meal to go on September 28th. And when you eat at Chili’s on September 28, 100 percent of profits from participating restaurant sales will be donated to St. Jude.

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