Time Flies

The old cliché is time flies when you are having fun.  The truth is that there are the same twenty four hours in each day whether you are enjoying the hours or not.  The minutes and hours have been flying – thankfully most of them have been very positive and filled with many blessings. 

 The Easter holidays were spent here in Mechanicsburg.  We were all set to travel to South Carolina and spend Easter with Grammy and Poppy – Kevin’s parents.  We have spent almost every Easter in South Carolina since Catie was born – except for Catie’s last Easter.  This year at the last minute a dear friend called to say he was throwing a surprise party for his wife and could we make it.  One of the lessons that Catie taught us all was there is no time like the present to be there for someone.  So we changed plans and are so grateful to Grammy and Poppy for understanding.

 Palm Sunday was spent in Basking Ridge, NJ at Mom-Mom and Da’s.  We returned home for school and work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then returned to Mom-Mom and Da’s for Holy Thursday.  We ate the Passover meal, attended Mass and visited seven churches with all the kids.  We went to Mass at Our Lady of the Mount in Warren, NJ.  After Mass we processed with candles across the street from the church to the chapel for Adoration.  It reminded us of our time at Lourdes.  Then we took the kids to visit six other churches for Adoration.  They stayed up until midnight – keeping watch and praying with Jesus!  We were so proud of them we offered them donuts at midnight!  This is a Closkey family tradition – visiting churches not eating donuts – as Mom-Mom and Da visited seven churches on their first date.  They set an example that we are still following today.  Thank you Mom and Dad.

 Saturday we were home and happily enjoying being together as a family.  The peace and serenity was interrupted as we learned that one of Catie’s kids had died.  Sean Witsoe died two days after his fifth birthday.  We knew that Sean was healthy and out of pain rejoicing in heaven.  We also knew the pain and anguish that Sean’s family felt and we prayed for their peace and comfort.  While we wanted to make plans and be with the Witsoe’s we knew that they needed prayers more at this time and so we prayed for them.

 Easter Sunday we attended Mass at St. Joseph.  We were surrounded by familiar faces and Father Brommer’s homily was filed with all the HOPE of the Resurrection.  Hope is a message for all of us at every moment.  We took all that hope-filled love and joined dear friends for Easter.  They too are experiencing new traditions; in some ways we all are but many of us do not recognize the change or the newness.  The subtle differences between this year and last year are lost in the busy-ness of the day.

 Monday had its own busy-ness.   We learned that another St. Jude patient who we knew had died.  We started plans to go to Indiana to be with the Witsoe’s – that involved a lot of phone calls to coordinate the kid’s activities.  We prepared Catie’s 9th Birthday cards to be decorated by St. Columbkill CCD students and shipped them off to Gilbertsville.   It is hard to imagine all that Catie wanted us to do is all falling so neatly into place; thanks to so many who knew and loved Catie and some who came to love Catie through her story.

 Tuesday we paid our respects to Corey’s mother.  That is really as simple as it is.  You stop everything and take a moment to hold another person letting them know that you care for them, their loss and that their child made a difference in your life.  Corey was 24 years old.  He survived his cancer.  He was at each St. Jude fundraiser that we attended doing just what Catie would have wanted to do – putting a face to the title “St. Jude Survivor”.  What an honor!  Through all of our efforts and prayers may there be more faces and lives touched by “St. Jude Survivors”.

 Tuesday afternoon we headed to the airport just the two of us.  How odd to delight in being alone with the love of your life.  Even traveling to a funeral can fill you with joy.   Sean has a wonderful family and any and all funerals should always have children at them – children remind us to laugh when the tears are falling.  Children live in the moment and remind us to do the same – live!

 The funeral and burial were fitting of the hero that Sean was.  Katie, Sean’s mother, said it best when she offered that Sean was never comfortable being the center of attention and this way we could talk all about him and he would be fine watching us all from heaven.  We also caught up with other friends from St. Jude.  These friends are truly family.  We have shared a profound and life altering experience with them and they with us.  Standing around we realized that we had never seen each other dressed up or outside the fluorescent lights of the hospital.  We had never shared a drink or been without at least one of our children in tow.

 Somehow or another the conversation often turned to Catie and how we were doing with Catie’s Wish this year.  Have you seen the website lately?  Check it out www.catieswish.org and look at what is left to do in the next week.

 We are so close to the goal and this year we are able to do even more.  We have had many children and parents ask us how they can be a part of the goal this year.  Can we make cards for the kids at St. Jude?  Could we make them for the doctors?  We went back to St. Jude and asked if the mailroom could handle thousands of cards.  We are working out the details of exactly how we are going to show all the staff at St. Jude that Catie’s Wish is not only treating them on April 23rd but also praying for them. 

 In the meantime we have put together our first set of “happys” for the kids at St.Jude.  When Catie was at St. Jude it was one of her favorite Southern traditions.  A little sack filled with a small thoughtful something to make someone feel loved, special or appreciated.  This is something that several of us at Catie’s Wish have been working on this past year.  Well for Catie’s birthday everything is coming together for the kids at St. Jude and we are thrilled.

 This effort is a collaboration between 500 kids coloring cards for the kids at St. Jude, 500 packages of pretzels many of them donated by Sturgis Pretzels (thank you Barbara Sturgis) and Candee and her amazing family and friends who will attach the cards to the pretzels and send them to Target House.  There the plan is to hand them out to all the kids that live at Target House, Ronald McDonald House and Grizzlie House – letting them know that someone is praying for them and for their family.

 Each day as the time draws closer our thoughts are turning to Catie even more.  While the days are filled with peace and hope the missing has not diminished.  Catie is in a better place – heaven.  What about us?  That all depends on how we chose to look at each day.  We could have left St. Jude and been bitter and angry that they offered us no answers.  We could have come home and lived out Catie’s last days privately.  We could have watched her die and done our best to put all the sadness behind us and just gone on with our lives as though Catie never existed.  Who would that have helped?  Would that have helped M.E. and Molly to remember their older sister – they were 2 and 4 when she died.  Would it have helped the other kids?  Would it have kept Catie joyfully alive in our hearts?

 Sharing Catie today still connects to other people.  Sharing Catie and even sharing our sadness connects us with one another.  Sharing Catie is like sharing our faith making it stronger and more vibrant.  What about us?  We are well.  We are not prefect but we are doing our best.  We are not over the loss of Catie but we do see blessings everyday.  We are not finished the work that there is to do but what we have done today we pray makes a difference.

 Life goes on is another cliché but the truth is none of us has the power to stop it.  Children remind us that this moment will pass so if you see something worth celebrating – celebrate!  Today as the rain stopped we all went outside and celebrated being together and played a little three on three.  Mia travels.  Molly double dribbles.  Maggie panics when Kevin guards her.  Max plays seriously.  M.E. delights in dunking.  She grabs the ball and calls for Kevin to lift her to the hoop.  She dunks and then hangs on the rim to be a “rim rocker”.  M.E. doesn’t know the first thing about basketball or the rules of the game but she loves it and asks to play whenever we are outside.

 We all need to delight in being involved in life.  The rules are simple “Love your God with your whole heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”


 God is good, all the time,

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

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One Response to “Time Flies”

  1. Marisa says:

    As always, your post amazes and inspires me. The strength of your faith and dedication leaves me in awe. Your Easter celebration sounds perfect – filled with family, faith and friends. What an incredible legacy your sweet Catie has created! Praying for success for Catie’s Wish all of the time, as well as strength and healing for your family.

    With continued prayer and friendship,
    Marisa Neeson and family