What a whirlwind 2014, became for us.  From the joy and stress of adding to our family, to the shock of finding out our baby wasn’t healthy, to the reality we wouldn’t bring our baby home, to determining her name, to establishing her legacy, to her passing.

We experienced many emotions during that time.  Sadness, anger, pain, rage, grief, agony, misery, and heartache are some of the negative feelings.  But there have been other more powerful emotions.  Emotions such as gratitude, amusement, inspiration, awe, and most importantly, love.

Love.  From the moment we shared Catherine’s many issues with friends and family we received an abundance of love.  It’s the only thing Catherine ever knew.  While it’s unfortunate she’s not with us and we’ll never be able to see her smile, crawl, walk, play with Madeline, do her hair, dance with her, play catch with her, watch her graduate, or walk her down the aisle, we’ll always be comforted by knowing the one thing she felt while here.  Love.  How fortunate she is.

Catherine’s name means innocent or pure.  Her name perfectly defines her.  When she was born, she was cold, awfully tiny, and very weak.  But she was peaceful, innocent, pure, and loved.  Many doctors and nurses worked with her immediately after birth giving her oxygen, warmth, and other exceptional care, but her issues were too significant for her to live very long.  A Chaplin baptized her with holy water from St. Peters shortly after birth.  Once baptized, it was time to wrap her up and put her where she belonged, in her mother’s arms.  Lauren and I both got to hold her before she went home.  We later said our goodbyes, told her we loved her, and said “until we meet again” to our baby girl.  We consider these influential and positive memories of a terrible and exhausting day.

Another memory was recalling an email from Fr. Mike.  It was an email he sent us shortly after we found out Catherine had so many issues.  I believe it’s appropriate to share.  His email read: 

“Before she became your daughter she was first and remains always God’s daughter.  Rest assured she will be okay for our true life and destiny ahead.  Her journey in getting there, for reasons only her Father can know, will be much shorter in length of time than either of ours; but, it is her journey and her pathway in getting there.  You have been chosen to carry her to the doorway of our eternal home.  She will go before you.  You will bid her farewell.  You will say goodbye.  But remember that doorway.  One day by the will and mercy of God you will walk through that door and she will be there to say hello and welcome you home.  Remember she is God’s daughter.  He knows her and will welcome her.”

Fr. Mike, we’ll never be able to properly thank you for your message.  It’s one we needed to hear and one we’ll never forget.  We also thank the many people who have helped us and prayed for us throughout this time and who continue to do so, but there’s one person who deserves a special thanks.  Lauren, thank you for the strength, smiles, and the extraordinary inspiration you’ve been to our family.

While Catherine is no longer with us, she’s not alone.  She’s surrounded by many friends and family members who have gone before us.  Some who went before us went as newborns or infants themselves; some were friends who were far too young.  Uncles, great grandparents, and a grandmother all went before Catherine.  I’m certain they were all eager to welcome Catherine, but I strongly believe my mom quickly received her, embraced her, and is spending significant time with her granddaughter.  

We’re all given gifts throughout our lives.  When our time comes, we should be able to explain what we’ve accomplished with our gifts.  While Catherine’s time with us was brief, she possessed, and gave Lauren and me many gifts.  Some of her gifts are those of selflessness, helping others, and unconditional love.  Catherine’s gifts will be eternal through her legacy which is our non-profit organization Catherine Cares.  Through Catherine Cares she’ll assist families whose children receive devastating diagnoses.  She’ll pass along to others what defines her.  Innocence, purity, and love.