Remembrance of You

My darling Catie,

I can remember the first time I saw you.  You were preciously pink and chubby – huge for one of our babies – and you had that great baby smell!!  You didn’t cry like most newborns but rather slept peacefully in my arms.  When we brought you home I was amazed at how you instantly shrunk in comparison to your two year old brother, Max, and three year old sister, Maggie.  Instead of watching you in awe we immediately needed to protect you from them.  However, they like us were drawn to you.  They wanted to hold you and watch you but we kept them at a safe distance.

One day you were asleep in your car seat safely on a chair away from them and you made a noise.  It was a yawn or a grunt; nothing that required immediate attention and yet Max ran toward you.  He reached you before he could be stopped and in a flash climbed up the chair and into your car seat.  Once there he knew what was wrong and gave you back your pacifier which had fallen out of your mouth as you slept.  You instantly snuggled back down to sleep sucking away on the pacifier and Max jumped down thrilled that he had helped you.  While I wanted to correct him for 1) climbing on the chair, 2) touching you without washing his hands, (and there must have been more points); I saw his face.  He was so proud and in love with you that I knew he would never hurt you or allow anyone else to hurt you.

As you grew so did my love for you.  You were so independent.  You would play alone watching and copying Max and Maggie.  They would play with you or show you how things worked but you were happy on your own.  Each day, what you most loved was your naptime.  I would carry you upstairs, change you, read Miss Moppet to you – you loved when “the cat jumped upon the mouse” and then we would pray, eventually you would be able say “Gob Bess Cadee”. 

I miss you and yet I know that you are near.  This spring M.E. explained to me why you visit me as a ladybug or a butterfly but why you cannot come back to visit as yourself.  She told me that if you came back, I would never let you go – just like Mary Magdala with Jesus in the garden the morning of the Resurrection “Jesus said to her, “Stop holding me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.   But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17) Why is it that the young have so much wisdom?  Do their innocent lives seem like a constant prayer to God?  Is all their awe and wonder and their unending conversation, when no one is listening, really a conversation with God?

I am not alone in missing you.  We all miss you.  For all of us there are still days that the pain of missing you is overwhelming.  There are days when the number of children that we follow on caringbridge sites becomes too much.  That happened this summer and so I stopped reading and writing but I did not stop praying for a cure.  The e-mail that was created for me while you were sick at St. Jude, I simply did not open for five months;  I opened it this Friday.  There were 5,000 updates from families that we know of with children who have been touched by cancer.  I read several of them and the wind was immediately taken out of my sails.  The line written by one mother about her son repeated itself over and over in my mind.  “You were born with this and it – one cell – lay dormant in your body until one day when your life and our lives were changed forever.”  This mother’s son is alive.  He has battled cancer for years.  He has gone into remission and survived two relapses.  He is still fighting.

As I was reading this at home, Maggie was alone at high school listening to a presentation about the Four Diamonds Fund – a fund that raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer care and research here in the state of PA.  She was listening to this family talk about their son and his cancer.  Maggie was blown away as she listened to his mother talk about the strides they have taken with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) the most common form of childhood cancer.  The mother continued to talk about how her son’s treatment began within 24 hours of his diagnosis.  She continued to talk about all the research that is being done.  That hit Maggie like a ton of bricks – Catie’s cancer was so rare there will never be suitable research completed for it and therefore a cure is far from being found.  What is a 14 year old supposed to do with that information?  Pray.

The Fab 5 – Swimmers

Last night as I sat on the couch alone in my bedroom crying and sad, listening to everyone eating dinner and not really chatting or having a good time – probably because no one knew why I left the table – I thought back to Catie’s last day downstairs.  She had not been downstairs in a few days but on that Thursday she asked to go downstairs and sit in her favorite chair in the family room.  I would have carried her anywhere or done anything to make her happy – I still would.  I was so hopeful that it was a sign that she was getting better.  I was always looking and sure that the miracle I prayed for was right around the corner.  (In many ways it still is.)  Catie did not want to play or read or listen to music.  She wanted to sit and listen to us enjoying and living life, just like I did last night.   As I sat there, Maggie joined me and she shared what happened at school on Friday.  Eventually everyone came up and joined me.  Catie and all that happened to her and to us is something that we share with each other.  It is something that we all struggle with and something in which we all search for meaning and peace in the pieces and the memories that we have.

Why did I stop reading the updates?  It was too much.  The fab 5 are growing and happy and healthy and they need us.  They need us living in our present not our past.  This decision to stop reading gave us the best summer that we have had as a family since moving to PA – now five years ago.  All the kids did swim team and swam on the same team.  M.E. loved every minute of the experience.  Maggie joining Marching Band for her high school and was a member of the Color Guard. We as a family played basketball most nights (Kevin and Mia vs. Christine, Maggie and Max). 

Maggie – Trinity Color Guard

This summer we made a second trip down to St. Jude.  This trip was initiated by Kevin Mills and his family.  IF you have been with us since the beginning, Kevin is the Elvis Tribute Artist that met Catie in Memphis and turned her into an Elvis fan.  He asked if he could go to St. Jude and give a concert for the kids and staff.  We joined Kevin and his family for the concert.  What a great time!  From St. Jude we drove to South Carolina to visit Grammy and Poppy.  Grammy had just fallen and needed surgery and special care in a rehab facility.  We were charged with making sure the house and Poppy were in good shape. They were.  It was a whirlwind trip and we arrived home three days before Maggie began her high school career at Trinity.

Kevin Mills at St. Jude

Life became ridiculously busy for us with the five kids now in school – and two different schools.  As everyone was adjusting to their new schedules and that includes M.E. in school all day, we were all shocked with the news on September 9th that Grammy’s heart had stopped.  M.E. took the news the hardest.  She looked at us with eyes filled with tears and said that she never knew you could die without being sick, having a disease or an accident.  For the next several weeks M.E. would not let us out of her sight.  She is doing much better now.

The tribute to the life lived by Grammy, M. Jane O’Brien was beautiful.  She was well loved as she cared for so many; none more than George (Poppy) for more than thirty years.  She is safely home with Catie and that alone gives us great comfort.  Please keep George in your prayers.

Missing someone is simply a sign that you have loved someone, and that is beautiful.  In November we remember all those who have gone before us – those that were young and those that were old, those that died suddenly and those that suffered from a long illness.  We pray for their souls that they may be resting in peace.  We miss them.  We love them.  We pray that one day we will blessed to join them.

MaryCatherine while missing you does not go away – though some days it is easier – we continue to do what you asked us to do.  We continue to pray for a cure, share your story and raise awareness and funding for an end to pediatric cancer. 

I love you with all my heart.  Please keep watch over all of us and bring us safely home to you.



PS – The GiveThanksWalk is this Saturday in 90 communities across the country – Team Catie will be in Harrisburg and Allentown.  Please go to and register to walk, make a donation, or pray that we have great weather.


Discover more from Catie's Wish Foundation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Comments are closed.