Life Goes On

It has been an eventful couple of weeks.  Amidst the Halloween parties, Trick-or-Treating, costume selecting and the everyday, we have attended the funerals and viewings of four people and have witnessed from afar the continuing struggles and setbacks of Catie’s kids.  The funerals have spanned the age spectrum from teen to nonagenarian, and the constant in all of them is that despite the hope and the promise of eternal life, there is sadness.  The other common factor in these losses is the valuable lesson that Catie taught us to embrace the gift of each day because you never know when it will be the last.  We were blessed with the sure knowledge that we had provided Catie with as many days and as many experiences as we could cram into the time we were given with her.  There were no regrets.  I hope and pray that the peace that comes with that acceptance is bestowed upon the loved ones of the people we have said good-bye to this past week.  Some deaths appear harder than others, some occur after long battles, and others shock us with their suddenness.  But death is personal, and the relationship between the person who has died and each of the people who mourn their loss dictates how that mourning will go.  Please pray for the loved ones of each of these who have died, that they receive the solace of God as they grieve.

Nana, mother of Nancy was adopted by the Fab 5 after a Wednesday night Mass shortly after Catie’s death.  Because she was in a wheelchair, they gravitated to her immediately and formed a quick but lasting bond with Nana and Nancy who cared for her.  The kids and Nancy shared bottles of water from Lourdes, pictures of their favorite saints, prayer cards, Nana’s 90th birthday and plenty of hugs.  They would push Nana’s wheelchair to the car after Mass, tell her all of the details of their day, and she would quietly and very patiently listen to them with care and attentiveness in her still bright eyes.  At Nana’s funeral, M.E. spotted Nancy in the back of the church, visibly upset, and rushed to her, giving Nancy her best squeeze.  She held Nancy’s hand through the funeral and grave side service and provided the comfort only a 4-year old can.  We shared dessert and coffee with Nancy last night, and the Fab 5 did their best to shower love on someone dear to them, a lesson they learned from Catie.  It is comforting to know that Nana and Catie are both walking together in heaven – as there are no wheelchairs in heaven!

Catie and Mrs. Hodges taking a bow after a wonderful Christmas show.

Mrs. Hodges was the music teacher at St. Joseph’s and was the piano teacher for Maggie, Max, Mia, and Catie.  When Catie came back from St. Jude after treatment had been suspended, she asked to learn to play the keyboard.  Mrs. Hodges worked with Catie as her eyesight was failing and through Mrs. Hodges dedication Catie was able to fulfill one of her last wishes as she performed Happy Birthday for all of us to hear.  Mrs. Hodges also produced the annual St. Joseph’s Christmas extravaganza, and welcomed Catie into the performance in 2008.  I am sure the two of them are making beautiful music together now.  The other kids took lessons at Mrs. Hodges’ home on Thursday nights.  Last Thursday night after collecting too much candy on the designated Halloween night in central Pennsylvania (too strange to even comment on), they went to Mrs. Hodges viewing.  To say that her loss will leave a huge hole in their young lives is an understatement.  In a clear sign that she is settled in Heaven, her beloved Penn State Nittany Lions defeated Michigan.  We will miss you Mrs. Hodges.

The Fab 5 (and Catie) - Halloween 2010

Joe was the beloved of little M.E.  They met a couple of years ago when Joe, a Knight of Columbus was decked out in full regalia for a very special Mass.  They hit it off immediately, and each day at Mass since then, M.E. would run to Joe, offer him a hug as a sign of peace and after Mass the two of them would clear the altar and blow out the candles.  Joe’s blackberry was filled with pictures of M.E.  Joe’s love for M.E. was never more evident than at his wake and funeral as dozens of Joe’s friends and relatives approached us and asked, “Is this M.E.?” and when she said that she was, they all hugged her and thanked her for the joy that she had brought to his life.  Today at Mass, the realization that he was gone hit her as she started to walk towards the altar to hug him and work with him and he was not there.  So much loss for a little 4-year old.

Gabby was a year ahead of Maggie and two years ahead of Max at St. Joseph’s and while they did not hang out together, the suddenness of Gabby’s loss has left many parents and students reeling.  The question of why which is so often asked when we lose someone in the dawn of their life will be challenging and difficult to answer.  For me, it was a reminder to count my blessings and go and hug each one of my kids and let them know that I love them.

As for Catie’s kids, please continue to pray as they continue to struggle.  Pray for Brayden especially as he has relapsed for the third time, and St. Jude has told him and his family that the options are very limited.  We continue to ask Catie to heal these kids and intercede with God; believing that a miraculous cure will bring more people to trust in God.  When we read about or hear about another kid who may not make it, we again fall into the trap of asking why.  In fact, we get a bit upset with Catie, wondering if she is too busy playing to take care of these kids.  Then a ladybug or a whisper in the wind tells us that she is with God and that He has a plan and that our job is to trust and to never give up hope.  I will leave you with that thought, continue to trust in God and remember to tell the ones you love how much they mean to you.  You never know if what you say is that last thing you will ever say to someone you love, so make it count!

God is good, all the time,

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

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One Response to “Life Goes On”

  1. Meg Selby says:

    Love this posting…especially the very last couple of sentences. You could have written just that and it would have been powerful. God Bless you.