The Unexpected Gift

     It has been so long since we last wrote. I just checked the website and was floored that it has been almost a year. What have we been busy doing? Thankfully loving each other and raising the Fab 5. Whenever I think back to what I have not done I am often left with a deep sense of regret. I know in my heart that I was not wasting my time and that none of us was wasting our collective time and yet the time has gone. Over a year ago (at my parent’s 50th anniversary party) my father gave me a gift that helped me come to terms with “where the time went”? My dad introduced me to the song “Too Busy Being in Love” by Doug Stone. This song causes me to stop and listen and smile. The time has passed but if I spent it loving another it was not wasted. Listen for yourself.

     So what were we doing, here are some of the highlights. Maggie turned 16 and we had our first Sweet Sixteen Party. Maggie began working last December right after her birthday and by the time summer came around she had three jobs. She earned, saved and bought her first car this September.  Which meant I spent hours (65+) being passengered by Maggie as she drove from job to job this summer.  This August Maggie began her Junior year at Trinity High School. We are talking about colleges and careers. Nursing is the current focus for potential majors.  DSC_0056Maggie maintains her excellent grades as well as involving herself in many clubs and activities. She has been inducted into both the Math Honor Society and the National Honor Society. We are very proud of her and all that she has accomplished. She has set the bar very high for the rest of the Fab 5.


     Max turned 15 last January and was busy playing Freshman basketball for Trinity. After basketball he joined the track team and on weekends qualified for his LifeGuard certificate. He was so busy last school year that he didn’t realize until the summer that he never had his friends over to celebrate his birthday. Max was employed this summer as a lifeguard at the town pool. Fortunately for me he rode his bike to work as Maggie’s schedule left little time for more driving. He is still a Boy Scout – something he began when he was just 5. Max is now a Sophomore at Trinity – driven to school each morning by Maggie. DSC_0068He decided to try football this year. He moved around a lot and learned many different positions – his favorite was Defensive Tackle. Now that Basketball season has begun he is once again playing for Trinity on their JV team. He too is involved with activities, clubs and sports. He is an excellent student and often comments that Maggie set the bar so high and he is expected to easily sail over it (the bar). Why not?

     Last April 23rd Catie would have turned 13. That is hard to believe – and thinking about it even for a moment causes me more heartache than I can bear. To me Catie with always be a spirited, wise, loving and generous 7 year old – who many would call an “old soul”. I simply call her my lifesaver. I miss her every day and yet every day I feel her presence and know I am not without her unless I choose to be.

     Mia turned 12 this summer. She is long and lean and loves basketball, swimming and track. She is pretty and graceful and sweet. The three years between Mia and Max sometimes feels like such a large gap – a gap that only Catie could fill. Mia is maturing quickly as she attempts to close that gap and grow closer to both Maggie and Max. She sings in the choir and is active in school. Her grades are excellent as well. This year in 7th grade she participated in the school Science Fair. Her experiment paired basketball and St. Jude. Her project was about the brain’s ability to learn and improve by visualizing a repetitive motion – in this case, shooting a foul shot. Mia needed one expert source for her project and she chose Catie’s Neuro-Oncologist, Dr. Greg Armstrong from St. Jude. She called him and conducted a phone interview. He was great. Mia’s project was selected in the top ten and she will go on to compete at Messiah College at the next level. She was delighted to share with Maggie and Max her accomplishment – as it was something that only she had done. While they both received an “A” for their Science Fair projects neither went on to additional competitions.

     Molly is 10 now. Molly is confident, easy going and will never have high blood pressure. She is growing this year as a student. She loves school, music – playing the piano and signing with Mia in the choir and sports – basketball, swimming and track. Molly is so sweet and so innocent and looking into her eyes you could get lost. God help the guy that falls for her! Never in my life have I known girls who get along with their sisters as well as Molly, Mia and ME get along. It is such a blessing and a gift for us.DSC_0041

     ME is 8. When she turned 8 she also outgrew all of the clothes that Catie ever wore – challenging us to decide what to do with them. The girls all agreed to put them in a box for a future grandchild. ME didn’t want to give them up and still wears hats that were Catie’s. ME is psyched that now as a third grader she is able to join her sisters playing basketball and running track this coming spring. While she has been swimming with them for the past three years she was left out of basketball and track. She has taken up the piano and can’t wait for fifth grade so that she too can join the choir.

     All these activities do keep us busy and there are days that I wonder if there is time for everything and yet it always seems to get done. We continue our work at St. Jude answering questions as to how best to deliver “bad news” to parents, mentoring other families who have lost a child, improving the services offered by St. Jude to their families and staff after the death of a patient and ministering to the doctors and nurses. The last words Catie ever said to Kevin were “never stop helping St. Jude” and we won’t.

     Thankfully supported by all of you, we are able to carry on the mission that Catie left us. Last week Catie gave us an unexpected gift that we want to share with all of you. Check out this video and know that you are a part of everything that this video states about Catie.

     Isn’t that amazing? Another amazing thing about the Marlo Thomas Building at St. Jude is that several years ago during the building’s construction a dear friend of ours, who works at ALSAC (the fundraising arm of St. Jude), asked if he could write Catie’s name in the “I” beam of Tower 2. This means that the building that bears Marlo Thomas’ name, which Marlo accepted in the name of Catie, actually bears Catie’s name in its main supporting structure. Talk about a Guardian angel!!

     So that is all the news that’s fit to print. When each of the kids talks about the bar being set high by Maggie, or Max, or Mia, we tell them that each of them have their own special gifts and talents and will each bring a uniqueness to their journey. When I told Maggie that as the oldest she set the bar for the rest of the Fab 5, she explained that she actually had the highest bar to strive for – the one set by Catie. We are so blessed, not only with the Fab 5, but with what Marlo called the “sliver of time” that we had with Catie.

     Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers as we begin the season of Advent and preparing for Christmas.

God is good all the time,

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Mia, Molly, M.E., and always CatieDSC_0036thanksgiving 047

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One Response to “The Unexpected Gift”

  1. Marthe Terry says:

    Love you all and glad to hear you are all hanging in and blossoming. “Our” little “Saint” Catie is watching over you for sure! Time really does fly! Love, hugs and prayers always. Have a blessed, holy and happy Advent. Jesus will always be the Reason for the Season! God IS good all the time! :) xo, Marthe