God Bless to all members of Catie’s Team,

 For most of our lives September meant only one thing – back to school.  The meaning of September has changed since we moved to Pennsylvania.   For one thing the kids start back to school the last week of August.  September also means Pediatric Cancer Awareness month.  Prior to Catie’s diagnosis we were unaware that there was such a month.  We never knew how many companies and restaurants support fund raising for Pediatric Cancer.  We now smile as we watch the Hyundai commercials.  We tear up watching the American Cancer Society commercials where Happy Birthday is sung and the actor wishes for more birthdays.  We eat at Chili’s throughout the month.  We begin to see college students on every corner collecting change for Penn State’s THON.   We continue our work supporting St. Jude as plans are made for the 3rd Annual Give Thanks. Walk.  [Catie’s Wish will be represented in both Allentown (thank you Candee and Mike) and Harrisburg.]

 This September was a first for us.  Now all five kids are in school.  M.E. began Kindergarten and this year Maggie is in eighth grade.  We always looked forward to this year – when all our kids would be in the same school.  It is wonderful.  M.E. is in school every day but she is home in the afternoons.  When the youngest child goes to school it can be life changing.  I wondered how it would feel when it happened to our kids.  Would there be tears?  Not from M.E. – she didn’t even want us to walk her into class the first day.  She rides the bus home at noon.  M.E. is so excited to be a big kid.  The first day she told all of us that she had been waiting her whole life to go to school everyday.  It doesn’t make us sad.  We miss her but knowing that she is going to come home takes away the sadness.

 It is that same thing that keeps coming back to us with Catie.  We miss her.  In some ways every day there is something that we miss about Catie.  And yet she is with us.  Catie is with all of us.  Today this last day of September, the last day of a month dedicated to pediatric cancer, we wanted to share how we not just miss Catie but rather how we know Catie is with us and all of you.

 Today we received an e-mail from a member of Catie’s Team who wrote how Catie is with her.  This dear soul, Amy, wrote that she is struggling because her daughter’s best friend has cancer.  Amy thanked us for sharing all that we did about Catie’s journey and she mentioned that she had recently re-read some of the updates and that they made her feel better.  That is one way that Catie is still with us. 

 Catie is still with us everyday.  She is apart of every prayer that we offer for pediatric cancer.  Catie continues to live and be apart of our lives through our faith in God.  Without God and faith on this journey, that many people simply call LIFE, we are not truly living.  It is also my belief that Catie is working on those prayers as well. Catie always wanted to help others or to be in two places at one time – now she can. I know that she walks through my everyday with me – which I can only feel if I pray. There are even days when I am very busy trying to finish my list before M.E. arrives home at noon and I can hear Catie singing.  If I stop to listen the singing stops but as soon as I am busy again there is that whisper of Catie singing.  (When Catie was alive I loved hearing her sing.  It is one thing that I wish I had recorded.)  Today as I was typing this – my mind going in a million different directions – I heard Catie’s voice call from her room upstairs “Mommy.”  I know that I am not crazy it is Catie and while it brings me to tears and I would give anything to run up the stairs and hold her and yet I know that I would hesitate to run to her.  I would wonder what she had to give up – heaven? – to be with me.  I would wonder how would she be – would she be paralyzed?  blind?  would she still have cancer?  How could I ever want her back here when I know she is in heaven.  Wouldn’t life be better for me if I reached for heaven myself everyday through how I live?

 I also know that Catie is with the Fab 5 at school guiding them to make good choices. I know that Catie is with Kevin every day at work.  She loved visiting him at work.  It is not just her photos that keep him company but her spirit too.   I also know that she is with every kid that prays for their own healing as she prayed for her own healing.  I pray that I never forget the day she knelt and prayed at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, MD. She first wrote on a piece of paper, “Please God make me better. I am sick with brain cancer.” She put her prayer into the basket and knelt and prayed. As I stood there with her I wondered what the other requests said and how only God could listen to them all. Only God could love all those who wrote their prayer requests and never become down or hurt or overwhelmed by all the requests. Only God held the answer for Catie. Only God holds the answer for all of us.

 God is not like the waves of the ocean.  God is the ocean.  God is.  No matter what occurs. The one constant in life is God and His immense love and mercy for each of us.

 Is cancer awful? Yes and no. It rattles us. It brings us to our knees and we often find ourselves begging God for mercy – or healing – on this person or this child. We also find ourselves so moved by the experience that we are willing to sacrifice anything to help that person or child. Anything that brings us closer to God cannot be awful. To see a child suffer is awful – there are still many days that I experienced with Catie that I will not allow myself to think of at all.  It is how we respond and what choices we make that makes all the difference. These are the defining moments in our lives.

 Several days each week I volunteer at the kid’s school.  I am hugged by many kids as they walk through the halls.  Catie would be in fifth grade. Last year I worked in her fourth grade class. I felt Catie’s presence – maybe I needed to, maybe I imagined it or maybe it was real. Does it matter? Each time I saw those kids – those classmates of Catie’s – I saw Catie and all her love, all her spark and all her life.  Each time I see those kids and my Fab 5 I think of how we responded to Catie’s death.  How we responded was so important to me and to us. It was important because we wanted to make sure that it was known by all who witnessed that God was there with us. We weren’t going to do anything perfectly but we would do whatever we did prayerfully.

 We asked so many to pray with us. We traveled to France with our crippled daughter. I carried her naked body and dipped her into the miraculous and yet freezing waters asking/begging/pleading for a miracle. We put everything in God’s hands. We believed. We did not doubt. And yet Catie died. Did we get our miracle?

 Catie is healed and through faith we do believe that we will once again be reunited with her. There are days when everyone is sad or hurt or angry and on those days I struggle just like when Catie was in treatment. On those days I am still waiting for my miracle. There are other days when one of the Fab 5 is laughing or I look over and see Kevin smiling at what one of them is doing and I know that we are happy and filled with peace. We are strong. We have faith. We can survive and thrive even though we have this loss and pain. At those moments I know that we did get our miracle.

 At those moments I feel so blessed and so grateful to have experienced what we did exactly how we did.  At those moments I feel so blessed that God gave us the strength to share Caties’ story with all of you.  At those moments I am grateful to all of you for helping us through this leg of our journey home to heaven.  You were our strength when we were weak and we are eternally grateful.

 God is good, all the time,

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

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One Response to “Septembers”

  1. Marthe Terry says:

    Dearest Brave and Beautiful Fab Family–Your latest entry reads like one of David’s heartfelt Psalms, in so many ways. (We’re studying and praying the Psalms in St. James’ Bible Study this semester. I just love it!) You touch the heart and soul with so many emotions–joy, sadness, hope, lament, petition and grateful praise of the LORD, who is truly Good, all the time. May we praise and thank Him always! In His Love, Marthe