Whole but Open

 When Christine wrote the last update, Scarred but Whole, she talked about the last two and a half years, the pain and the healing, the hope and the sorrow, the death and the life that has emerged from it.  This past week has been difficult and challenging.  It has been filled with St. Jude events, anniversaries of Catie’s last days on earth and of our goodbyes and memorials of her.  Two years is a long time in some ways and yet this week, it seems like just yesterday.  Each of us deals with it in our own ways and as we witness one another and love one another and see how we each react, the reactions compound.  Molly for example chose to wear an outfit on Sunday that was one of Catie’s favorites and when she walked into the room, with the obvious exception that she has a full head of hair, she could be Catie’s twin.  The mannerisms, the speech patters and inflections, the physical similarities are uncannily exact and while it is a clear indicator that life goes on, it makes the hole where Catie isn’t seem even larger.

 As Christine and I were lying in bed the other night, we discussed how we were doing and whether or not we really were whole, or if we were so entirely broken that our perspective was shot.  We prayed and talked about what whole really was and came up with different models to describe it.  An apple is whole.  Once you take a bite of it, it is no longer whole.  But now, it is open.  Aren’t we all called to share who we are and what we are with one another?  We could share the apple and it could in some way be thought of as whole, yet a part of all of us who shared in it.  As parents of Catie and the fab 5, we have certainly attempted to be open, to allow others to see inside in the faint hope that people could learn from our path without having to sacrifice a child to walk it.  Our constant message to anyone who would listen, (and it came from Catie herself), hug and love the people in your life, do it today, and keep doing it, you may never know how important that next hug or expression of love may be. 

 At that point in the conversation, the Holy Spirit and maybe Catie herself stepped in and Christine listened to them and asked me if she could look at my wedding ring.  I removed it and as I did so, we both realized the beauty of the symbol.  It is whole and open.  Whole because it is an unbroken circle without beginning or end, and open.  And like the perfection of the circle, it fulfills its purpose when its openness is shared in the placing of the ring upon the finger.  It is not only a symbol, but is also in reality; all about unity.  That ring and all that it represents is a touchstone for me.  It keeps me grounded even when life feels like one giant upheaval.  Christine is the source of some of that upheaval as I am sure I am for her, but at the end of the day, she is also the source of the healing and stability and balance that makes the upheaval bearable.  My hope is that whatever cross you carry in your day that you have someone to walk by your side as you carry it who loves you as much as Christine loves me.  Losing Catie to cancer has been the cause of some challenging days, but I have shared each of them with the woman of my dreams.

Sometimes sharing something with the one you love helps them.  In a sense, the pain or hurt, once shared is halved.  Today is the feast of the Presentation of Jesus.  Mary and Joseph took forty day old Jesus to the temple with two turtledoves and offered Him back to His Father.  As parents, we do that with our children.  They are a gift from God, yet we baptize them and offer them back to Him.  We want to get them back to Him, in heaven where they will be safe and happy forever.  At the temple, Mary and Joseph met Simeon and Anna, two people who spent their day in prayer until God called them home.  Simeon tells Mary that because of who Jesus is, she will feel pain and a “sword will pierce her heart”.  I do not know what Joseph said to that, I do not know how he attempted to comfort Mary.  A mother’s love is an amazing strong, beautiful, delicate gift.  As a father, I cannot understand it completely, and if I was supposed to I imagine God would have given me different chromosomes.  The love and therefore the sadness Christine feels two years after Catie’s journey home is different than mine.  I can try to understand it, try to comprehend it and put it in my own terms, but at the end of the day, all I can really do is stop talking and hold her, provide her with some sense of home until God reunites us all.  We can never fully understand another person’s feelings, even if we walk a mile in their shoes.  What we can do is let them know that we love them and accept them wherever they are, say a prayer for them and offer a shoulder or a hug, or a smile.

 We spent last weekend with Christine’s brother Bill (aka Uncle Bill) and the kids had a wonderful time.  Max celebrated his birthday (he is now twelve!!) with his wonderful group of friends and had a great day.  It was much better than two years ago when his birthday was the day of Catie’s funeral.  He and Maggie represented their school in a regional “MathCounts” competition and did very well.  The fab 5 are good kids, and give us some beautiful moments as parents as we see them interact with one another.  While they are at odds at times, it is wonderful to see them work together; Sunday for example, they produced a highly effective coordinated attack upon me with an array of snowballs and shovelfuls of snow.  On Saturday, the fab 5 and Christine went snow tubing in the backyard, crashed multiple times into the fence around the garden, and looked to be on the edge of impending disaster.  Hearing the peals of laughter from the six of them, knowing the joy that was in their hearts felt as good as anything in the last two years. 

 There is a current marketing campaign for Kay Jewelers, a major supporter for St. Jude, that speaks about their open heart collection.  The goal of their campaign is to sell jewelery – that is their business.  Their slogan speaks right to the heart – love can only enter into an open heart – perfectly fitting for this time of year.  Fill your life with those you love and keep telling them how much you love them.  We tell this to Catie everyday and know that she hears us – some days when we allow it we can feel her love for us.  This only happens when our hearts are open.

 My prayer for each of you is that you have moments of joy and that you take the time to capture them in your memory.  It is those memories that will keep you going.

 God is good, all the time.

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

Discover more from Catie's Wish Foundation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Comments are closed.