Pray with me today.  That is my most overwhelming feeling that prayer is needed and it needs to come from more than just me.  Walking around our home the blessings are so evident – we have a home.  It is safe and warm and offers so much comfort.  There are comfortable chairs to sit in – many of them, though at this hour most are empty.  There is food – enough food for an army or so that several days could pass without a trip to the store.  There are beds – soft beds to sleep in and as you drift off to sleep, remember all the blessings of this day.  There are photos hanging on the walls and sitting in frames throughout the rooms.  Photos of smiling happy faces showing us – as a couple, as individuals, showing our children as infants, toddlers and school aged children.  Why with all of these blessings is there sadness in my heart and are there tears in my eyes?

Yesterday was a really tough day.  It was a day that filled my dreams and hopes for my children for years.  It was a day that “was never going to come”.  Or at least that is what my mind told me as another child came into our lives.  A child that we wanted and welcomed with open arms.  A child whom we viewed as nothing short of a miracle and certainly knew was a blessing from God.  Despite thinking about this day for the first time in October 2002 and believing that it would come.  It came yesterday.  In 2002 Maggie’s four year old pre-school photo was placed in a frame.  A small 3 ½ by 5 inch frame filled with Maggie’s energetic and vibrant smile, along with her one inch pigtails and her bright eyes.  As that photo was framed a question crossed my mind “when would the last O’Brien child be in pre-school?”  At that time, Max was three; Catie was one and Mia was four months old.  Molly and M.E. were not even a thought.

Maggie 2002

Yesterday, the five frames were taken down, opened and the smiles surveyed.  They all have changed.  How much all of their eyes changed in their photos in 2008!  Were those eyes of wonder and innocence, of worry and concern or were they simply the eyes of faith and trust?  These five kids have been through so much.  Much more than any parent would imagine for their child and yet despite it all they still are smiling.  Max has a bigger smile in his class photo as he is standing on tippy toes – a family tradition among the men and boys to look taller.

Max 2003

Yesterday, M.E. finally made it into a frame.  Our last child is four and in pre-school.  Last year the decision was made to put Molly’s photo into Catie’s frame.  The thought was that seeing everyone grow up and never seeing Catie’s photo change would be heart wrenching.  That is true.  The second thought was that seeing all of Catie’s school photos in one place would be easier – a shrine of sorts.  It is easier every day of the year – just not yesterday.  How is it that there are only five of them?  How is it that one has died and died before she even really starting growing up?  How it is that child who was not even old enough to ride her bike around the block alone, or ever go to the store and buy a candy bar, is in heaven?  How does this happen?  It just does.


Catie 2005

It does and did and yesterday it hit me like a ton of bricks.  The house could have collapsed into a pile of lumber and sheetrock all around me and it might not have hurt as much – though that would be because my focus would have been on the safety of the Fab 5.  Catie is gone.  To comfort us, many offered that the first year would be the toughest for us – “all the firsts”.  We were numb through the firsts.  It is the living and watching the children grow and seeing the spot where we want Catie to be that hurts every day.  It is the living and remembering what we asked a child to do – be a human science experiment – that hurts every day.  We were hoping to save her and telling ourselves that even if we didn’t save her maybe someone would learn something that would help another child.  Even while she was being treated, our focus was on doing all that we could to make sure another family would not have to stand in our shoes.  Catie felt that same way and made that thought her dying wish.  Children should never have to be experiments.  They should be doing them, not having them done to their bodies. 

Mia 2006

Throughout everything we do and every day we miss Catie and we think of her.  We know that she would never want any of us to be sad.  She would not want me to sit wiping tears from my eyes so the words that are being typed could be read.  Today Catie would want me to do just what she wanted all along – pray.  Ask everyone to pray.  Pray for a cure.  Pray for a heart to understand.  Pray with gratitude for all the blessings that are here today.  Pray for the strength to do what NEEDS to be done for ourselves, for our families, for those in need and for those who are in need of faith.  Pray for yourself and your children and for everything that comes to mind when we allow ourselves to be quiet and listen to God.


Molly 2008

Have you ever been so busy that you hear nothing?  The other day running around so very busy trying to finish this and that before all the kids arrived home I began to hear singing.  In order to listen to the singing and recognize the song I had to stop everything and be still and quiet.  Certain it was the voice of Catie I stopped and when I did so did the singing.  Catie is always with me.  She is still telling me what to do.  She is still encouraging me and all of you to pray –and make all that you do a prayer so that you can pray without ceasing as she did before she died.

M.E. 2010

 God is good, all the time

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


3 Responses to “Photographs”

  1. Angela Thompson says:

    Kevin and Christine,

    Thank you for continuing to share your story with us and for inspiring us to live our best lives. Your children are precious and beautiful…little M.E. looks so grown up in her photo…I am sure you are bursting with pride.

    We will never forget Catie and her bravery and strength. She continues to inspire.

    God Bless

  2. Maria Aznar says:

    Thank you for sharing your prayers with me and the pictures of your beautiful children. They are such a blessing, both the prayers and the lives the Lord has entrusted to your care. I am sending you all a big hug and my love in Jesus and Mary.
    May God bless you richly every day of every year.

    María Aznar +

  3. Regina Brady says:

    Kevin and Christine,
    Just when I start to feel sorry for myself you two manage to snap me right back to reality! How beautiful and sad in the same instance. The hurt never goes away. Maggies picture in Caties frame….just pierces the heart, yet life must go on. (Which is why the picture of the 6 Brady’s remains on our wall with Catie in it on her First Communion for eternity. (I cannot bear the loss.) We miss her terribly. Our prayers are always with you and Maggie, Max, Mia,Molly and M.E. Your photos are precious and we love you always.