It has been a while since time has been made to reflect.  It is a busy time of the year.  While many of the traditions of preparing for Christmas are commercialized; the important ones are just that – important and therefore worth reflecting on to gain some sense of understanding of them and then celebrating them.  Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Christ was born to be the Savior of all mankind.  The prophets foretold of a virgin having a son (Isaiah 7:14)) and of a star rising (Isaiah 47:13) well before the birth of Christ.  Kings heard of this prophecy – some with fear and some with awe.  An angel was the messenger and gave this all important message to some rather unlikely folks; a young girl (Luke 1:26-33), her betrothed husband in a dream (Matthew 1:20-21) and some shepherds (Luke 2:8-12).  There was also a sign.  It was not posted on a billboard.  There was no Facebook update.  The sign was simply a star shining in the night (Matthew 2:10).  This star was followed by three wise men and by all who believe and call themselves Christians today.


This year we prepared as did many of you for Christmas.  We prepared our homes with decorations.  We prepared our hearts with prayers.  We prepared to follow the example of these wise men and gave gifts to those we share our lives with; those we love and those in need of love – and who isn’t in need of love?  Isn’t that what a gift is – a token or sign with meaning?   Our lists were not lists of who wanted what but rather lists of what we would get for whom and who was in need. 

Gift giving is many things for many people.  For us it is a time to really think about those who share our lives and those that impact our lives.  Each day as we bought, wrapped and mailed gifts we ended up at the post office.  Our post office is open 24/7 and that makes shipping packages so convenient.  With each stop to the post office we would check the PO Box for Catie’s Wish.  What a gift among the busyness of the season it was to open the box and find envelopes filled with donations and notes.  Reminding us that the work we are doing in Catie’s honor and memory is being supported.  The energy these “signs” – letters provided – turned into peace this December as the Christmas preparations continued.


Christmas Day was very relaxing as we spent it in South Carolina with Grammy and Poppy.  Our kids – or rather their company – are the greatest gifts that we have to offer.  We delight in them and in their joy.  This year Maggie, our oldest, turned 13 only two weeks ago!  She is a beautiful, thoughtful, sensitive and loving young lady.  Looking at her and how she has become a young lady is a marvel when remembering her birth size of 4 lbs.  Max is growing taller every day.  It seems like we are always buying him new pants and shoes.  He is playful – though what is a game to him is not to most of his sisters or his father when working on a project.  He is affectionate, helpful and generous.  Mia is our joy!  She smiles in her sleep.  She sings or hums without even knowing it.  She fills our home and hearts with love.  Molly is my delight.  She has these soft blue eyes that we could look into for hours – if she would sit still that long.  She is strong and gentle at the same time.  She is wise beyond her six years and yet she is so very innocent.  M.E. is our heaven sent gift.  She hugs and kisses without reserve.  She, like Mia, is filled with joy and smiles.  She is also very passionate – no one is ever happier when they are happy or sad when they are sad than M.E.

From Christmas Day until New Years Day we did our best to celebrate each day as one of the twelve days of Christmas.  We delayed our trip home due to the snow in North Carolina and Virginia.  Sadly we returned to Mechanicsburg and no snow though the rest of our family that lives in New Jersey dug out from the blizzard on Christmas.  As M.E. so generously shared her cold with the rest of the Fab 5 we nursed them all back to health in between visits from Aunt KC and her fiancé, Dennis and with the Connolly’s for New Year’s Eve.  Max was thrilled to be handed noise makers at midnight and told to make noise!  New Year’s Day we took time to visit all the homes on this year’s tour of lights.  Thanks to Ron Duszak, Catie’s Wish had a great Christmas collection with several matching donors!


With a chorus of coughs we all traveled out to see folks that we had met last year and a few new faces.  Talking with each person and hearing the stories of those who gave to each of the individual light shows is so very touching.  The Fab 5 embraced each person and warmly thanked them for hosting a light show and displaying the St. Jude’s logo.  Children are amazing in their ability to accept things as they are.  While they all know that Catie once was sitting in the car with us, running around and laughing with us they miss her but truly accept that she is safe and at peace in heaven.  To this day missing Catie is like breathing – a part of life.  Remembering what she went through, how she suffered and what she lost – her ability to walk, to see, to smile and to laugh – is my only way to find peace and acceptance that she is no longer here with us physically.

Catie is really with us and with all of you.  Looking back on all the photos that we took in 2010 it is very evident as in each photo there was a space that without our planning was left for Catie.  This was seen so clearly as we put together our Christmas card – now a New Year’s card.  When the Fab 5 pose for a photo the most time is spent arranging them so that the space is no longer there.  For us 6 is the right number and we are still getting used to only 5.  Speaking with Katie, a St. Jude mother, 5 is her perfect number.  This year her Christmas photo pictured four not five – though Sean will always be with them.  Her gift to me was telling me how to work five in a photo; three in the back and two in the front.  Life is a matter of perspective made easier with faith, friends and loved ones to share it with not just during Christmas but also throughout the whole year.


Sharing ourselves and our children has helped us heal.  Sharing Catie’s Story brought so many of you into our lives and not being alone gave us so much comfort and strength.  The healing is not complete or over nor do we think there is an end to it.  Grief and loss are like the ocean to me where the waves will always exist.  Some days they are in the background and you go about your day aware of them and are able to stay dry.  Other days you are in the water and you just can’t seem to get out of the water as the tide’s pull is constant and as you recover from one wave the next wave comes.  The constant beating of the waves wears you out.  This year was our second year without Catie.  Many have asked if it was easier than the first year.  Like a dear friend, Regina, wrote “the first year I was in a fog”.  For the first year every day is like being constantly hit by the waves of memories and longing and missing and they just don’t stop coming.  Many told us that after the first year it would get easier.  Did it?  It only did when we acknowledged that we were not in control and that God was. 

Or someone else, taking a ship to cross the wild waves, loudly invokes a piece of wood frailer than the vessel that bears him.  Agreed, the ship is the product of a craving for gain, its building embodies the wisdom of the shipwright; but your providence, Father, is what steers it, you having opened a pathway even through the sea, and a safe way over the waves, showing that you can save, whatever happens, so that even without experience, someone may put out to sea.  It is not your will that the works of your Wisdom should be sterile, so people entrust their lives to the smallest piece of wood, cross the waves on a raft, yet are kept safe and sound.  (Wisdom14:1-5)

 My mother always told us as children, “Laugh and the world will laugh with you, cry and you can cry alone.”  While it is a tough message; there is truth to it.  It is tough to live through it when you are hurting and sad but each of us is only as alone as we make ourselves.  There is always someone who we can turn to in our time of need.  God is always there and His message has been consistent for 2010 years.  


Jesus said to him, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

This is my resolution each year.  To love myself and be accepting of who I am so that I can better love those God has placed in my life.  Join me during these last few days of Christmas and throughout the New Year to do the same.  What a difference we can make in this world if we all add just a bit more love!

Happy New Year!

God is good, all the time,

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

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One Response to “Waves”

  1. Katie Fontaine says:

    What a wonderful update! I hope that Christian and I will be able to see you during one of my trips back and forth from PSU this year. I had wanted to plan something for over the break but I had knee surgery and have been out of commission.

    I start my masters to be a Physician Assistant at Arcadia University in May so I will have to try even harder for visits this spring! Although I am sure I will be working 40 hours of the weekend I urge you to try to visit Penn State during THON if you are able :) The dates are February 18th through the 20th and the link is… http://www.thon.org/whatisthon

    Please tell the kids I am always thinking about them and can’t wait to see them again!

    Katie Fontaine