Good evening Catie followers,

We all know the feeling of there is so much to be done. We all have struggled with where do we begin. Today has been a day like that. There are things to clean, e-mails to send, memos to edit, lists of errands to write, thank you letters to send, orders to place and on and on. Instead, with all that is facing me nothing seems more important than sitting and praying at this moment. Why?

At this very moment there is a mother that I have never met holding the hand of her daughter for possibly the last time on this earth. Each moment for the past several days I have been praying for her family. They are a family that I have never met though I do remember passing them in the hall at Target House with an exchanged “hello” between us.

How can I do all or any of the “things” that need to be done – busying myself in work and take my focus off the prayers that are needed for this child, this daughter of God, this family, this mother and father and little brother? Why is this awareness so strong today? Yesterday another child right here in this community died of cancer and there was no change in me yesterday – I was not even aware until after Mass this morning. So why is today different?

The reason is Catie. Catie showed me the way – she tried to show all of us. The last days of Catie’s life were not about seeing and enjoying the company of all those Catie loved. The last days of Catie’s life were spent in almost constant prayer. Those last days Catie was not preparing herself for eternal life, she was preparing all of us for how to live without her once she was gone. During those last few days she didn’t want to read the books that she made me promise we would finish, she didn’t want to paint, she didn’t want to do puzzles or even play Crazy Eights – all Catie wanted to do was pray and to have anyone who visited her join her in prayer.

As I think back over the last week of Catie’s life there was one day, Thursday, that Catie was downstairs. There Catie sat in the favorite big comfortable chair. She didn’t want to talk, listen to music and there is no TV in that room. All Catie wanted to do was sit and be surrounded not by everyone giving her attention but rather with everyone going about their day doing their things. I was busy putting things away from Christmas and trying to organize this or that. Megan and M.E. were in the basement doing this or that. The house was filled with the sounds of us – the sounds that make 5016 Firethorn Lane home to the O’Brien’s. Each time I would pass Catie sitting there I would ask her if she wanted me to join her – “Cate, you know that nothing I am doing is more important than you. I can stop and sit by you if you want.” “I am good Mom. I am just happy to be sitting here listening to everything,” was Catie’s reply. Each time M.E. passed her she would climb up and kiss Catie and then climb down. Catie never requested that M.E. stay and M.E. was just busy and happy being two. Each time I passed Catie I wanted to sit down and just be with her but I knew that she was happy being on her own. Sitting there alone was a freedom that Catie did not have at St. Jude – I was always with her.

I remember telling Kevin, when he came back that afternoon that Catie had been up and out of bed all day. And that she was requesting more cheesecake. I thought that she was getting better because she had more energy then she had had in days. The next day when she woke up it was almost eleven and by three she was asleep and never woke up again.

Why didn’t I know that Thursday was Catie’s last day? I wasn’t meant to know. That last day was for Catie. I now think about it as a gift that God gave Catie. She had a day to listen to the sounds and the voices of the people she loved. She was able to be in the house – to be home where she had missed being so much during her treatment and being there hearing those she loved so much simply going through their day. Just before this last Thursday and again later that Thursday night all the time was spent praying with Catie as she prepared us to pray with her when she was in heaven. There were times when she would not even look up when you would walk back into the room – I knew she knew who was there but Catie just kept on praying. There were other times when she wanted the Bible read to her – just keep reading. Nothing was more important to her than prayer.

All those prayers brought us to where we are today. There are so many moments of the past 9 months that are a complete blur – thanks to the grace of God and all your prayers for our family we are hanging in there. Last night we met with someone who said statistically we should be both bankrupt and divorced. Thanks be to God we are neither. Thank you Catie for showing us the way to find peace in the situations we are faced with in this life. Catie, sweet girl, I know that you never wanted to have surgery or cancer or radiation or chemo, you never wanted to go bald – though you never missed my brushing your hair, you never wanted to leave Dad and the kids, you never wanted to miss school and brownies, you never wanted to be in a wheelchair – well maybe for just one day it was fun, you never wanted to go blind and you never wanted to die before you turned 8 but that was God’s plan for you and you accepted His will for you. Every day I pray to understand God’s will for me and that I will accept His will with half of your grace and strength.

Before I begin doing any of what I think should be done or needs to be done, I need to follow that example that Catie gave me and pray first. Then I need to continue my prayers by offering all of my actions and the work that “should be done” as prayers of sacrifice for Sydney and her family as they may be experiencing their own last days together. Through the grace of God everything we do can be turned into prayer if we simply invite God to be a part of all of our days. Through God’s grace Catie is still with us just like she was that Thursday. She is still witnessing all that we are going through – our struggles and triumphs! She is still cheering us on and encouraging us to pray to God; as she knows first hand the benefits and graces that flow to each of us every day from God, Our Father.

God gave us this life and all of its crosses just like He gave His very own Son. God was with Him and is with us each day whether we recognize Him in our day or not. There are towns in this country praying and pulling for these children. Towns adorned in teal ribbons and already decorated for Christmas. These towns exemplify faith in God and prayer taking on an active nature.

Please join me as we pray especially for those families now experiencing the final days with their children – for Dax, James and Sydney. Please remember to thank God for all the days you have with your children and those you love.

May God bless you and the work of your hands,

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

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