Summer of Love

Hello Catie’s Team!

We have been very quiet this summer – on the website and in regards to Catie’s Wish. We are thankful for all the Catie’s Wish Ambassadors who have worked on fund raising efforts for Catie’s Wish during the summer.  We were delighted to attend the first Catie’s Wish outdoor movie night hosted by the Kosman family.   We also enjoyed the subs provided by the St. Joe’s Charger Football Team and Cheerleaders – the Third Annual Sub Sale.  Go Chargers!!  Thank you! The last update was in the beginning of June just after we returned from the St. Jude Remembrance Weekend.  This summer we spent most of our time together as a family.  As parents we cherished watching and enjoying the growth and changes of each child as we attempted to guide each other through our celebrations, difficulties, hurts and weaknesses.  We were so quiet this summer that several folks who saw us at the Back to School Nights this week remarked that they thought that we had moved.  Not the case.  We just traveled in different circles this summer (though we were spotted almost daily at Hans Frozen Custard) and spent much needed time together as a family.

We spoke about updating and questioned whether we had anything to write about and whether anyone cared.  (No self pity just a rhetorical question.) On one hand what we have experienced – the loss of a child – puts us in a very (thankfully) small and exclusive club.  However on the other hand what we have experienced also taught us life lessons that everyone can benefit from at any age and at any time.  Life is precious.  Live with no regrets!!  Love without reserve!!  Share everything that you have and everything that you are – not only can you not take it with you – it is in you to be shared. 

Catie taught us that.  If she didn’t share who she was and what she thought was important then we really wouldn’t have anything to write about or anyone to write to.  Without sharing herself once Catie died everything within her would have died too.  We would have been left in a far worse place – living without her and not knowing who she was and what she cared about.  At seven Catie cared about a lot of things.  She cared deeply for her brother Max and her sisters, her parents and grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins; she cared about her classmates, friends and those who wrote to her; for the kids at St. Jude and all kids battling cancer; she cared about the beach and butterflies and gardening and she cared about prayers and praying and faith.

Catie was given a gift (as my fingers tap these keys there is a lump in my throat) to know that her life was coming to an end.  She lived and died knowing in the last 60 days of her life there would be an end soon.  There was nothing that she could put off praying for or doing or saying.  If we read the Bible, attend Mass or go to church there are so many stories about the bride maids not being ready to greet the groom, or the homeowner who would have locked his home had he but known that the thief was coming and many others.  The message is there and yet we are all so busy living that we miss the relevance that this message has in our lives or we think it is not about us, not yet and foolishly we go on thinking there will be time. 

Cancer for most cancer patients is a gift of time and perspective.  Accidents don’t always offer that peace of mind.  Very few grieving families of accidents look at what they are experiencing and think we did all that we could, or have the confidence to know that whomever they lost knew how very much they were loved, and perhaps most importantly have the certainty that their loved one was ready to face God.  It was not Catie’s cancer that taught me these lessons but it was Catie’s cancer that brought these lessons into my everyday.  My sister Andrea lost Lynn eight years ago, this September, and at her memorial service stood in shock and grief and stated that “I loved without reserve and I have no regrets – I did everything I could to love and care for Lynn”.  I sat there and prayed that if I am ever faced with the loss of someone I love that I will feel the same.

Cancer statistics are so high that it is almost impossible that anyone will not be touched by cancer.  One in six adults will be treated for some type of cancer in their lifetime and one is 330 for children.  Even if cancer is avoided – Praise the Lord – no one has ever avoided death forever.  So why is this lesson of living and loving without reserve or regret put off?  Especially in the light that everyone is so busy searching for what will make them truly happy and every mental health expert in the world tells us that deep committed relationships based on love make us the happiest.  This is something that I ask myself everyday – in the morning and each night.  Then I try to live it better the next day.  It is a process and like life it takes a lifetime to perfect.

Knowing this and attempting to live through this process is exactly how we spent the summer.  Instead of building on the momentum created by reaching our goal for the second year we took a much needed respite from Catie’s Wish.  Instead of working ten hours a day on the Foundation we cut back and focused on the kids.  If we are indeed doing God’s work we need not focus on momentum but rather on God.  He has all the momentum that is needed.  Once the kids are settled in school we will resume the work that Catie left us to do.   We trust that you will all be there to join us in prayer for the kids that are still battling, the families of those children who are now in heaven with Catie and the mission of Catie’s Wish.  Stay tuned for future updates and notifications about new changes to the website and future events like the Fall Fashion Show.

This summer was spent sleeping in, sharing Mass, eating ice cream, playing games, reading books, growing our small garden – us vs. the groundhog and rabbits, and learning new things.  The first seven weeks of summer were devoted to early morning swim team practices and Saturday swim meets for Maggie, Max and Mia.  This was their second year and each of them received their first blue ribbon which delighted all of us. Molly worked on reading, swimming and bike riding this summer and conquered bike riding.  We video taped her telling us how she would never learn because she was too afraid all the while she rode unassisted in circles around us.  What a laugh!!  M.E. spent the summer following everyone and growing up just enough.  We celebrated M.E.’s 4th, Molly’s 6th and Mia’s 8th birthdays.  It is amazing how quickly they are growing up. 

Nothing was as much of a reminder of this then switching the clothes from one girl to another.  This takes place each year once during the end of summer and again in March.  With four girls the clothes just pass right along from one to another.  It might be easier to just change rooms but instead we move the clothes from one closet to another.  As we prepared for this we knew it would be tough on Mia.  Ever since she could dress herself she would wear Catie’s clothes.  This summer I even noticed her eating less and when I asked why she told me that some of her clothes were tight and she was trying to lose weight so she could keep wearing Catie’s clothes which are mostly size seven.  We told her that she was supposed to grow and get older and that Catie would want her too.  Thankfully Catie did have a few size eight clothes and so Mia didn’t have to give up everything that was Catie’s all at once.  Reluctantly Mia put all the size seven clothes in a bin for Molly next year.  Molly did try on some of the clothes and was delighted that she finally fit into some of Catie’s clothes.  There in one room was Mia in tears with Molly in the other corner thrilled to finally have Catie’s clothes to wear.  Across the hall Kevin, Maggie and Max were together all wiping tears from their eyes.  Seeing Molly in Catie’s favorite sweatshirt was very difficult for them.  How was it possible that Catie was so little?  so young – only seven?  so sick and yet endured all that she did?  Many times during Catie’s fight we would be with other children who were battling cancer and we be told of their odds or their trials and we knew that Catie had no odds only hope.  Why?  We will never know.  We only know that she was and she did and we love her for it and in spite of it and we will never forget her or any of the kids that battle cancer.

This summer like last we also continued to pray and keep up to date with Catie’s kids.  Very few of the kids that Catie actually met at St. Jude are still there.  For the most part their protocols have been completed now two years later.  Thankfully most of the kids on Catie’s protocol (Ellie, Hunter and Marit) are home with their families joyfully living NED (no evidence of disease).  Everyday we offer prayers of thanksgiving for the other kids – Abby, Amber, Brayden, JB, Jack, Jill, Neve, Tala, Trevor and many others who are also NED of their cancers.  We pray for those still fighting Jonah, Maggie and Raven and many others. This summer, like last, we said good-bye to too many.  Matt, Mikey, Robert and Sam all died too young and without cures for their diseases. We also remembered those that we love who are with Catie – this summer marked one year anniversaries for many families.  We are always praying and remembering and through these prayers and memories that best tribute we can pay to anyone is to love more, give more and to keep going in their honor and love as they loved.

This past week was spent getting ready for school to begin on Monday the 30th.  Three nights this week we attended Back to School Nights; Monday for M.E. who will begin pre-school, Tuesday was for Mia who will be in third grade and Molly who will be in first grade this year, Thursday night was for Max who will begin Middle School in sixth grade and Maggie who will be in seventh grade.  All five kids will be at one school for the next two years.  Then what?  God knows.  For now we are blessed and grateful for the wonderful children that we have and pray that you are too.

Make the time to tell those you love that you love them everyday that you are blessed to share life with them.

God is good, all the time,

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

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