Good evening Catie journeyers,

This evening time was dedicated to looking for a photo of Catie on her seventh birthday. Every family takes photographs. Every family develops photos at different times. Every family organizes photos in different ways – albums, shoeboxes, frames or a combination of any of these. Today with digital photography many photos are never printed but rather remain on the computer. Hopefully there is a backup as computers crash – for some more easily and more readily than for others.

Catie’s seventh birthday took place just one month prior to her showing her first symptoms of cancer. April 23rd of 2008 was such a joyful day. It was a Wednesday. Birthdays are not the biggest deal in our family — just a day with a few gifts, a cake and dinner in the dining room. Pictures aren’t always taken. This day they were and now we wanted to find them.

Where to look? How long would it take to find them? Who would look? What would we do if they were not found? Why is it that everything that has to do with Catie is so important? When will this change? How can this ever change?

We have such simple expectations – looking for a picture. Attached to this simple expectation are entire series of unrealistic expectations and the what ifs. In our world the what ifs can cause as much damage as Catie’s cancer did to our family. As we long to hold onto every precious memory of Catie, as we long hold our family, our marriage and ourselves together, as we long to honor her memory and Catie’s fight with cancer through the success of the Catie’s Wish Foundation we often find ourselves incapable and too fragile to do much of anything.

Our family is filled with love. We love God and believe in His love for us. We love each other and we love all of you who have stood by us, not just through this trial but through others as well. Somehow with all that we have gone through many moments exist when none of us living in this house feels very loved. The overwhelming feeling that each of us has is fragile. While the kids will not assign that name to how they are feeling the whining and sadness whispers “fragile” when they are corrected for almost anything -even leaving the door open.

Feeling fragile must be a part of all that we have gone through. One day you are living your life each day loving your spouse and your children and the next day you are struggling to understand pain and suffering of your child. You grow to accept the new truth that your child has cancer and you go on to what can be done. You answer this question and you find your family separated. You visit and make the best of it. You find out that the cancer has returned and that there is nothing to do. You clear everything off your schedule and you focus on your child and God. Your child dies despite your faithfulness and all of your efforts. You say good-bye and do what needs to be done. You pick up the pieces and take care of those who may be hurting worse than you.

After nine months you realize that there are still those that are hurting and those that have moved on and you are some days hurting and other days moving on and yet you are still fragile. No one gives you a timeframe on grieving. It is not like pregnancy. There is no due date. It is not like college. You can’t drop out, take a semester off or even stay for a fifth year. Grieving is different for everyone, but so is happiness. So what do you do?

Go back to what you know works. Faith and prayer works. Happiness will come and go and so will my level of grief for Catie’s death. Through my faith and prayers God will direct me out of this to where I can see not why this happened but rather how we will get through this. Lately the words of “Make me a Channel of Your Peace” from the prayer of St. Francis have been providing me with great comfort.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

When Kevin last wrote he spoke of comparison and the grass is greener.In a way that is what this song is all about. Out of this fragile state, that I find myself in and my loved ones in, I am given the opportunities to console rather than be consoled. God is there in all of our lives waiting at every moment to be there for us; waiting for us to invite Him into our lives through prayer. Jesus showed us the way. Jesus was and is the mightiest of Kings and yet He came to us as a fragile baby. During His unjust trial and conviction He offered no defense. He stood there silent and fragile ready to take up His cross for my sins. I may feel fragile but I am not hanging on a cross. Through Jesus’ willingness to be fragile He gave me the answer to my own fragile state – God.

God’s love was made visible to me through the actions of Allen Sanford who made so many personal sacrifices so that he could run in the Marine Corp Marathon in Catie’s honor this past Sunday. God’s love was made visible through the co-workers of Mike Pascarella who raised money for charity and elected St. Jude as their charity. God’s love was made visible two weeks ago when the St. Joseph’s Chargers Football players and cheerleaders presented Catie’s Wish with a check for more than $2500. God’s love was made visible by the father who handed Kevin a check for $120. The money was raised by the children gathering, sorting and selling the toys that were theirs for Catie’s Wish. God’s love was made visible when we gathered to celebrate a dear friend’s 40th birthday – as birthdays are special days. God’s love was also made visible when Catie’s seventh birthday picture was found by Kevin – safely stored on his computer.

God’s love is visible every day at every moment if you look at the day with eyes of faith and hope. Maybe today is your day to make God’s love visible for someone else.

May God bless you and the work of your hands,

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

PS – Please join us in prayer for Dax, Trevor, Sydney, Spencer, Jessica, Kayli, George and all those who have asked for our prayers and Catie’s intercession.

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