Birthday 2013

Reflections over the past several months have been distracted.  There is so much going on in the lives of the Fab 5 – so much joy and living, so much to celebrate, and so much to take in as we all continue to grow and become who we were created to be.  All of this is broken up in a way by the trips to St. Jude each month.  Can one live in the present and be present to those around them and go back to where we were?  One can try.

M.E. and Catherine

M.E. and Catherine

This year M.E. (MaryElizabeth) turned seven – she was turning two when this all started –seven is the age Catie was when she first became ill.  This spring we began to hit all those milestones and memories.  The first day of this occurring or of that happening as we all watched and waited, hoped and prayed for Catie and joined her on her journey of being all that she was created to be.  Should one go back?  Should one think back over what happened?  Is there any value in reflecting on something that went so very differently then we all hoped?  Is there anything to be gained?  Closure, is that what people are seeking when they go back over events?  Have we found, achieved or reached closure? 

There are times when it seems impossible to go back and think of what occurred.  There are other times when there are no thoughts outside of Catie.  We have been on this journey for five years.  Catie fought her battle for eight short months.  From the day of her first pain – her first complaint was that her right hip hurt after she slipped on the locker room floor after swim lessons – that was Memorial Day 2008.  To the day she took her last breath – Sunday morning January 25th – only eight months passed.  How is that even possible?

Does time heal all wounds?  The answer is very different for each person and completely based on that person and their experiences.  Time may not heal but it does help.  Time goes on and while you hear this and you notice this when you are grieving you don’t feel it yourself.  When you are grieving you feel the whole world moving while you are standing still – unnoticed and apart from the rest of the world.  The world moves but you in your brokenness and loss stay there unwilling to yield your ground and accept your new reality, “Someone has died.  They will no longer be there to listen to, to talk with, to touch, to watch or for you to breath in the smell of them.  Life was this way with them around and now it is not.  This could not be stopped or changed but it is not accepted and it may never be.” 

As human beings we live and love with all our senses.  We also grieve with all our senses too.  This is where grieving gets a little tricky because memories are connected to our senses – we hear something and it reminds us of a happy time and we miss the person and so for many people music becomes difficult to hear, we see something, we smell something and so on through all our senses and throughout all our lives.  Is that why we stand still to protect ourselves from any additional sensory pain?  Maybe. 

Five years later, “why?” still hangs out there unanswered and unasked.  Why ask a question when you know there is no answer?  Catie never asked.  In fact when she was asked if she would give away her cancer if she could, she simple stated “I would not give this to anyone.”  At seven blessed with talents and gifts – that seemed as though they would never reach their potential – she accepted with grace what was to be her journey and simply asked us to join her. 

So instead of looking back over the past five years and wondering what life would be like had Catie lived to be cured, to be a cancer survivor; wouldn’t it be more like Catie to look back and see all that has been accomplished because of Catie’s acceptance and wish? 

Several of the kids that Catie was in treatment with at St. Jude have graduated to the survivor’s clinic.  We are happy for all of them.  May they continue to live with good health and make their mark on this world.  Several of the kids that we pray for who were treated at other hospitals are also doing well and for this we are grateful.  Several new kids have been added to the prayer list and so we continue to pray and ask for your prayers.  Several of the kids that we pray for have joined Catie in heaven and we continue to pray for their families.  We know that the work is not done.  There is more research to be done, more cures to be found and more children to save through both prayer and research.

We, at Catie’s Wish, are grateful for the wonderful donors and supporters that we have.  For the number of children who continue to sacrifice their birthday gifts to raise money for other kids in need we are blessed.  For the number of children who host a bake sale or lemonade stand, ask their school to hold a dress down day or offer us a part of their summer earnings we are blessed.  For the adults who hear Catie’s story and are moved to give and go to their employers and ask for matching funds we are blessed.  For the schools that host events and offer prayers for children fighting cancer we are blessed.  For all those who support us through prayers and yearly giving we are blessed.  For the tireless individuals that offer tech support, design work and send “happy’s” to the kids at St. Jude we are blessed.  For all those who logged prayers onto the website – this year totaling 953,277 and counting – we are blessed.

We are blessed with the Fab 5 and continue to pray for them and support them as they continue to become who they were created to be.  We are often amazed at their level of compassion and understanding for others – a gift that we often attribute to what they experienced through Catie.  Each of them continues to delight and concern us and we thank God that they take turns concerning us – all five at once would be too much.  Catie is with each of us every day though we all experience her in our own ways.  We still hear M.E. talking to Catie as she plays.  The others each have found their peace with all that has happened and while it does not define them it will always be a part of each of them.

We are blessed that M.E. has turned seven. We took M.E. to New York City last weekend for an O’Brien girl tradition – buying of their American Girl doll.  M.E. enjoyed her trip.  She is a delightful girl who can’t wait to grow up.  We are blessed that Molly continues to grow into a sweet young girl who will turn nine in just a few days.  Molly has added basketball and track to swimming keeping us busy.  We are blessed that today is Mia’s eleventh birthday.  Happy Birthday sweetheart!  Mia will begin Middle School this year.  She has grown into a wonderful student and continues to work hard at school and sports.

Max at Graduation

Max at Graduation

We are blessed that Max has graduated from 8th grade with many awards and accomplishments. He will be joining Maggie at Trinity High School next year.  This year he also added basketball and rugby to his sport interests.  We are also blessed that Maggie completed her first year of High School with excellent results and is enjoying a well-deserved rest during this summer.  She is an amazing young woman filled with great kindness and a deep sense of faith. 

This past June, we were blessed to have gathered and celebrated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. 

Happy 50th!!

Happy 50th!!

 What a great example they are of love and commitment! This   example has taught me so much in my life; most importantly the value and power of love. Love is the greatest blessing in my life.  God‘s love has created and sustained me throughout my life.  God‘s love has held me, healed me and prepared me for all that would occur in my life.  God’s love has blessed me with a wonderful man to share my life and to love throughout my life; thank you for the gift of Kevin.  He is my greatest treasure and it is my hope and prayer that my love for him will continue to grow each and every day as it has for the past twenty years.  He is everything that I ever needed in another person without ever knowing it – but God knew.  I truly believe that we are created just for one another.  He is my love yesterday, today and God willing tomorrow.  I love you Kevin.

I am blessed to have shared in the life of Catie O’Brien, to have been her mother, to have witnessed her life, to have felt her love and her strength and to have followed her example.  Catie taught me to cling to those you love and ask them to share your dreams and prayers and so I do.

Today join me to praying for those in need, telling those you love that you love them, and living today with no regrets!

God is good, all the time,

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

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One Response to “Birthday 2013”

  1. Marthe Terry says:

    My love and prayers are with you. Catie will always be in your hearts–and should be–from grief to gentle and wistful love, thoughts and memories. My “Catie Shrine” with her First Communion photo is sill up. It reminds me to go to her to intercede for those brave little ones who now tread her heroic path. I pray for all those who have lost a child, whether in adulthood or in childhood. One of my dearest friends is one of these sorrowful Mothers. A fatal heart attack felled her only daughter at almost 53. My friend, 6 months later, has her moments, good and bad. All of us in her corner hold her in our continual love and prayers. My prayers are with you always. God’s love, Marthe