Looking Back

Less than one month after Catie’s death we received a note from a follower of Catie’s story.  This note was not added to the public guestbook but rather sent privately to us.  It simply read,  “spend time with your family and stop wasting your time (it may have said spending your time – but that is not how it felt when we read it) writing updates”.  It was a note amidst the thousands – it seemed negative and like a slap to move on – and yet it stood out then and does now.  Writing to all of you – just writing in general has allowed us to clarify what is happening; to see not only the real measurable events of each day but also our thoughts and impressions.  You the reader share our journey.  It is our hope that this sharing will lead you all to pray – for us, for yourselves and for those we ask you to pray for in the P.S.

Each morning when the computer is turned on the updates are waiting – when you are following the stories of pediatric cancer you always have mail.  Some of these stories tell of the child’s appointments, schedule, status and progress towards CANCER FREE or END OF TREATMENT.  How Catie loved the St. Jude song “You don’t need chemo any more”!  Even though Catie knew she was dying she still asked her nurses to sing it to her the last day at St. Jude – how she beamed!   Other stories share the struggle, the pain and worry and still others share the faith and belief that God holds the answer and the cure.  Throughout the past eighteen months we have shared all of the same with you – always trying to end on a positive note and asking and trusting in your prayers.  Today is no different.

It is almost unbelievable that later this month – or in three weeks time – we will be celebrating one year since Catie’s – here is the first stumble… is death the right word? Yes, Catie did die.  Or was it Catie’s birth to eternal life?  Yes, that is what we believe; that Catie now lives eternally with God in heaven.  Left us – could be used?  She is not here and yet she is and we will always seek to feel her presence and sense an awareness of her being with us.  Considering the importance of not only the word choice but also the day itself, we will be celebrating the one year anniversary of Catie’s life and death.  In the world of Catholic Saint’s, Feast days are often celebrated on the day that the saint died.  As it was one of Catie’s desires to be the Patroness of Pediatric Illnesses, we honor that desire through a celebration.  What will we do?  We will set this date – January 25th apart and like Christmas and other Holy Days we will spend it with an awareness of why it is special.  We will have Mass said for Catie and we will attend.  Preparing for this day is odd – there is no right or wrong and there is very little in the way of tradition.  It has been our feeling that being true to Catie may be the best way to celebrate the day.  It can be as simple as being there for one another.

How did we get here?  How did we move through 2009?  There are no memories of New Year’s Eve 2008 or of New Year’s Day 2009.  Remembering is one thing; being reminded is often something different.  Going back to the Catie’s Story website and reading last New Year’s Eve – may not have been the best way to remember.  It was day 37.  How is it that you are given a number of days less than 100 to be with your child?  To prepare them for heaven?  To prepare yourself?  To prepare your other children?  How is it that no matter how many times we are told to slow down and treasure the moments in life we add more to each day?  Why is it that the most significant moments in life will occur without us realizing it until it is over?  Even with the perspective that Catie’s life and death offered us we are still guilty of this – though less so than before.

This past year we said good-bye to Konley, Catie, Hunter, Hannah, MaryKate, Liam, Mary, Alex, Clay, Reagan, Elizabeth Grace, Christian, Sydney, Breanna, and Dax and there were others.  Which each child we prayed for a miracle – we asked for Catie’s intercession and we still said good-bye.  We were disappointed each time.  Still we continued to pray.  Each day someone relapsed – today we are praying for Jack, Gavin and others.  Each day someone was added to the list of children on hospice – today we are praying for Dylan, James and Mattie and there are others.  Each day someone was added to the list of children who have cancer, today we are praying for Campbell, Kaiden and there are others .  This was and is overwhelming.  Why did and do we continue to follow these stories?  Many of the children Catie didn’t even know, we have not met them or their families and many of them are not treated at St. Jude.  Why?  In the midst of all the suffering and the entire struggle is the beauty and the resilience of the human spirit and power of prayer.

There are families for whom life has returned to normal or “normal after treatment”.  Families that are back home and living and enjoying life – Abby, Amber, Brayden, Ellie, Hunter, Jonah, Jill, Marit, Molly, Neve, Sean, and Trevor and there are others.  We need to offer prayers of Thankgiving for these victories!!  There are families who celebrated this Christmas with each other – cancer free like Mom-Mom who the doctors can’t explain the cure.  Thank you God.  There are stories that we are blessed to share and gifts that Catie’s Story gives to others and will continue to give as long as we have the strength to share it.  Someone once asked if we wanted to shelter the children from anymore of the pain and suffering?  Our answer was simple; if we hid the children from the pain and suffering then the stories of triumph and glory are taken away too.  We are a Christian people – we live in joyful hope for the future.  Christ told us He was coming back.  This world is ours.  We can spend time amassing that which we will never use or enjoy or we can spend time making a difference in the lives of others.  Through all that we experienced through our journey with Catie and now through her legacy, making a difference or at least trying to make a difference is our choice.  There is much to be done. Your prayers saw us through the eight months of Catie’s disease and your prayers have seen us through the past year.  Please continue to join us in prayer for our healing and for the many families who are still battling this disease.  There is a cure out there – through prayer and research it will be found.   Prayer reminds all of us that although there is much to be done we are not alone.  God is with us.

Thank you for all of your prayers.  Kevin had ten days off over the Christmas holiday and we spent them together at home – for the most part.  They were wonderful days filled with love and laughter and the joy that comes from being together.  We are so very grateful for each other and thankful to be together.  We all still miss Catie each and every day and desire that she be with us.  That is not going to change but through God’s grace that desire will lead us to acceptance and peace.

May God bless you and the work of your hands,

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

PS Please continue to pray for all of our dear friends from St. Jude – the doctors, nurses and staff that support the patients and families.  Please pray for all who have asked for our prayers and please add to your prayers Baby Jack, Danny, Erik and Zach all who are new to our prayer list and in need of our prayers.

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