Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mutual Admiration

Greetings to All! These pass few days have been getting adjusted to our new "normal" life. For those of you who know us personally, you know that we have never been, "normal." It has also been a time of becoming aware of how each of us as Husband and Father, Wife and Mother, Son and Brother, as well as Daughter and Sister are dealing with this grieving process. We all are doing it very uniquely although we are all walking the same road. We have had to come to understand and to respect each other's personal process of dealing with our loss.
I want to back up a few years to when Ali and I first were married. We had made a decision that we would always be a family of gratitude, with others, but even more consciously, with each other. We always say "please" and we always say "thank you" ALOT! And we do not only say that we are "sorry" if we hurt or offend someone in our family. We also ask for their forgiveness. Sometimes, it’s given quicker than others:) Even with our children if we lose it with them we will go back to them apologize and ask their forgiveness.
My mother was diagnosed with Cancer four years ago, I am an only child, and Ali and I were living in Houston, TX at the time, while my mother was still back here in Louisiana. Once diagnosed, she moved in with our family while she was receiving treatment in Houston. For those of you who knew my mom, she could be a tough old bag when she wanted to be. She was very honoree and stubborn MOST of the time, I can't imagine where I get it from:) And it took some adjusting for all of us, her having lived alone since I had moved out and us being newlyweds, new parents, and having two mothers in the house, but we continued our families tradition of gratitude and asking forgiveness during that whole journey. As you can imagine there were moments for all us being, stress, tired, a little put out, but we strived for it anyway. As time went on I saw a softening in my mother. She began to say please and thank you, and asking for forgiveness ALOT! One night her and I sat outside my home in Houston and she ask for FORGIVNESS, for things in the past that had happened between her and I, both us sat there with tears streaming down our faces, and I told her, that I had forgiven her years ago, but I was SO GRATEFUL, to hear her say that. She died only a month later, but there was nothing left unsaid between her and I. All wounds had been healed between us and I don't wish there was anything else that I should have said.
Here we are again only three years later, walking the road of mourning once again. As I sat back the other night reflecting on my family and how each of us was mourning differently, I realized that we must do, what we have always done. Be gracious and be willing to ask for forgiveness. As a Father, the things that tug on my heart strings or make me angry over Cate's death are going to be VERY different than what pulls on Ali's heart strings or makes her angry about Cate's death. And the same goes for Ella and Charlie. We are all processing and coping with this time VERY differently and we cannot become impatient with one another, for that will only create a divide and set us back. There must be a mutual admiration and respect for one another, something that we have always strived for, but now it is a little more important. I truly believe it is part of the glue that continues to unite our family as the storm rages on. So, if right now, Ali struggles seeing little babies, I have to allow her “her mourning” and strive to not get impatient with that. If the kids want to carry around a framed 8x10 of Cate and talk to her and sing songs to her, Ali & I can't get frustrated with their processing. If I want to shoot guns and hang out with the boys from time to time, Ali strives to allow me my time to mourn and process. We all are going to do it differently and that is ok. And when we get short or impatient with one another, we need to simply ask for forgiveness and not let anything get a foothold in the door of our family. We must remain a united front that is moving forward toward our goal of being reunited with our girl one day in Heaven and we will not let anything, including our pride, mine especially, get in the way of that.
I know it may sound like a small thing but "please", "thank you", and "I ask your forgiveness" are some of the key things that keep our family what it is today and will continue to keep it that way as we walk this road. Small acts that have a big impact on the life of a family! We ask that you pray that we remain in mutual admiration towards each other as we mourn our beautiful Cate!
I want to leave you with this story that Ali told me last night that LITERALLY, I was like WOW, from the mouth of babes. Ella, our oldest is quite the little artist, she get ALL of that from her mother. She loves to draw pictures of our family. There is actually one on the flicker account that she drew the day we brought Baby Cate home from the hospital, In Ella's drawing Cate has ALWAYS been a little swaddled up baby in the picture down around our feet. The other day Ella, was at my in-laws, and was drawing pictures of the family. She drew one of the family and Nana, Ali's mom, was asking her about it. Ella told her who everyone was, Daddy, Mommy, Dude, Ella, and Cate, but this picture was different than any picture Ella had ever drawn before. You see in this picture she and Cate were holding hands and they were the SAME size. She told Nana, that Cate wasn't a baby anymore that she was a big girl like Ella and that she could now run and play! Wow, tell me that God doesn't speak to the heart of Children!!! If you would like a prayer card from Baby Cate's Funeral please see the Previous Blog Post "In Addition" Much Love, The Cantrells


Anonymous said...

Wow, the things children know! Thanks for sharing your thoughts today. I needed to be "told" to ask for forgiveness! You have no idea how much you are helping others, especially me, during your mourning!

Much Love :)

kasey said...

We would love to have a pray card for our little girl Ryan, she is 20 months. I feel that Baby Cate will look down over her and keep her safe. We both went to UL with Ali. Ya'll are in our prayers.
Alton & Kasey Melancon
17555 Shady Elm Ave
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

maureen gallagher said...

.... since when did you call Dude Charlie?? Seriously!!! I thought you were talking in 1st person for a second. hahah. Love you Charlie!

James H said...

I am so glad you are keeping blogging. We shall all be blessed by that.

I am adding you to my Louisiana Catholic blog update list

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Ali, Ella and Dude,
Your family is so awesome. I love you, Alyssa

Kristi said...

Quick story. Last semester I had a family development class. The very first day in class our professor handed everyone a sheet of construction paper and three crayons. She then told everyone to draw a picture of our family. Now remember I am drawing a picture of my family on construction paper…with crayons…in a COLLEGE class. After everyone was done Dr. Block started explaining how much she could figure out about everyone’s family just by the pictures we had drawn. So when you said there was a picture that Ella had drawn on flickr…i immediately went and looked at it. When I saw it I kind of teared up. That picture says so much about how beautiful your family is Charlie. Really it just speaks volumes for the way Ella and Dude must feel loved. Everything that you wrote about being a grateful family is shown in that picture because it’s all about love. Thanks for sharing your lives with us. Know that each time I read this blog something about me is changed. I know that Cate’s life has had an impact on my life that I can’t even put my finger on. But somehow, somewhere inside of me I am changed, changed for the better. I hope that one day my daughter will draw a picture of her family and it show the same things as Ella’s. You guys are amazing!
Love you all,

Kathryn said...

Dear Charlie and Ali,

Charlie, I don’t know if you remember me, but here goes!

My name is Kathryn Cosgrove. I was a new teacher at Opelousas Junior High when you were in 9th grade. I taught World Geography next door to Mrs. Demarcy, the class that you were in. In addition, you dressed up as a clown, along with a couple of other people, for my daughter, Caroline’s, first birthday, July ’96.

I am sorry to say that I didn’t know about Cate and her illness, or the trials of your family during this time. I learned about your story in the Daily World (Opelousas newspaper). I was struck when I read her name Catherine Frances, which are my first name and my daughter’s middle name of Frances. As I read the obituary, I realized that this was your daughter and my heart was overcome with emotions. I can’t imagine what you all are going through.

As I read your mother’s name, I had a vision of Mrs. Pat sitting in a rocking chair, with a cigarette in an ashtray on the floor, and rocking Cate swaddled in a yellow blanket. Your mom was talking to Cate, telling her something about you, and they both laughed. I could almost hear that raspy laugh of your moms’, a sound that I remember so well from my early days of teaching. Your mom was so supportive of me during my years at Opelousas Junior High.

I have no words of wisdom to offer you and Ali and the kids. Simply put, I have prayer for all of you every night and will continue to do so.

Please continue the blog, I have become a better parent by reading your entries and trying to live more simply.

May God keep and bless you all of the days of your life.

Kathryn Cosgrove

Anonymous said...

Wow. I too, had Dr. Block as one of my teachers at Nicholls, and I did the same thing with my family picture. It is true that the way children draw thier families shows how they feel. I cannot believe that through your grieving process you are still encouraging US to love each other. God is so amazing...

Claire said...

ok so maureen and i need to really sit down one day and look at our family trees cuz i think we really are twins separated at birth...i thought you were talking about yourself too.
just so you know, one thing (of many) that i LOVE about watching your kids is their manners and gratitude...ALWAYS please and thank you!
also, when i watched ella and dude in the morning before the funeral, ella kept referring to cate "getting bigger." i didn't really understand what she meant at the time, getting to spend time with your kids is always such a blessing.
i love yall bunches and hope to see ya soon.

volpecircus said...

Thanks for the story about Ella's drawing. It is so true that they understand it so much more than we can as we get older. I know that one thing that has helped keep alive our little one we lost through miscarriage is to tell our kids the story. They talk to the baby and all sorts of things. Thank you for sharing your walk with all of us and you are continually in our prayers.

In Christ, The Volpes

Cinco Owens said...

God Bless you Cantrell Family. May our loving Lord continue to pour down His healing rays of Mercy onto your family. JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!! YSIC, Melanie

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali,

What an awesome job you are doing as parents as exemplified in your children. You can be so proud of yourselves for bringing both your family and others to Christ. Please keep up the blog, because I read it everyday!


Anonymous said...

hey charlie and ali i thought that the story about ella was amazing. its so funny how little children see all of those things. i think god sends those angels for young children to see because some times as adults we can be afraid of those types of things. thanks for keeping up with the blog. i enjoy reading it! i would also like a prayer card if you dont mind.

Ashley Leger
406 Ann Drive
Rayne 70578

Anonymous said...

You guys are never forgotten. Thanks for the reminder to love each other intentionally and with gratitude. Your story continues to be one of hope and of great respect to the promptings of the heart. How much we can learn from the children....THANK YOU!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali,

You are such inspiration...I have friends whose 2 year old son was taken home to Jesus in April due to heart complications....he passed away 6 days before his appointment at TCH.....I've shared a lot of your insight with them which is totally amazing! As I read your blog daily, it seemed like the same words from my friends! God is so good, He knows EXACTLY what we need and how to take care of us! It's all about KNOWING GOD, LOVING GOD and without a doubt you show this! God will take care of you! Be yourself, allow yourself the time you need to mourn....May God bless you!

PS -- I love reading your blogs, you have such a gift that I'm thankful to be able to share with others!

Crystal said...

Charlie and Ali

I'm reading the message for the second time, because I just love reading what Charlie has to say. Thanks for such gratitude and happiness from you and your family. I check this blog a thousand times a day just to see whats the update. Thank you for continuing this journey with us. We love you guys!!!!!!!!

God Bless
Crystal Judice

Anonymous said...

I just want to start by saying "Thank You" to each of you. You and your precious Baby Cate have given me another precious family to hold in my heart. The Lord blesses us with so very much if we are part of His Family. We are sewn together forever, and you all are part of my family of prayers.

I love you,

Suzanne Moore

Bartas in Texas said...

Amen, Cantrell Family. Amen!
we love you.
Jeremy & Courtney

Anonymous said...

Amazing! The wisdom of children is profound! Drawing is a great way for Ella to get her expressions out.. keep that up.. great! ( The child Life specialist coming out of me:) Of course you guys already know that.

Thinking about you guys lots.. Powerful words stated in this Blog... keep it up.. life changing for us all that read.

Peace and Love,
Tricia and Nick LaRocca

(The prayer cards are beautiful. Would love to get some for the nurses at the hospital.. they have been asking about you guys)

Janie P said...

Charlie, Ali, Ella, & Dude,
Thank you so much for sharing this walk with us, as you always have, with amazing faith, insight & love.
My heart breaks for you all, but is so full of the love of Christ.I have been amazed - awed by the effect your blogs have had on me and everyone who reads them. I know I am looking at my life and my girls differently now.
At Steubenville this past weekend everyone wore "Baby Cate" buttons and prayed hard for you to feel the comfort of God's love.
Thank you for everything you continue to do for your brothers & sisters in Christ. We will keep praying.
In His Love,

Anonymous said...

may God continue to grant you peace & patience with yourselves and each other. one minute at a time. you are doing right caring for yourself so you can care for your children. mother mary wrap your mantle around the Cantrells. thank you for the gift they are to the world. please continue to bless them with patience & love with one another. hold them close to you & let them know they are loved. let them let you love them. amen.

Anonymous said...

On another blog that I have been reading of another sweet family that also lost their, she led us to Psalm 84. It talks about the "Valley of Baca." I looked up Baca and it means, "weeping." It talks about how those who trust in the Lord make the Valley of Baca a source of springs. Isn't that amazing! I see you are doing that and I pray it only continues! God grants us the peace that surpasses understanding and in the darkest places shines LIGHT! May God turn your weeping into springs!

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

WOW, Cate's hits are about to reach 100,000! It might not mean 100,000 people, but it does mean 100,000 prayers!
Oh, about what kids draw, Madalene drew a picture of Baby Cate and Baby Rachel, both big girls wearing crowns. I think children have a direct line to heaven. One of these days, remind me to tell you about Emily's dream. It will really encourage you guys about the healing process for the kids. It's kind of long, so it will take more time.
Love you guys,
Wendy Lantz

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,
I am the Math lead teacher at James and have spoken with your wife several times over the school year. I'm not sure if she was aware of it, but we lost our first daughter in the womb at 36 weeks. We have since had two girls and I am 28 weeks pregnant with our little boy. I know the rush of feelings you go through day to day. Some days I was mad at everybody, other times I just coped and yet I always knew that our little angel was in a good place. I always wished for more time with her. I envy the fact you guys got seven months with Cate before becoming one of God's little rosebuds. I thank God everyday that I was able to know my angel even though it was only in the womb. She has visited her sisters on occasion I know, because no one else was in the room and they have both have had their experinces of talking and laughing together. My angel appeared to me on my 35th birthday this year as if to come and celebrate with me! I know she is always with us and I talk about her often even though her sisters didn't get to know her. We have pictures and every time we pass the graveyard, my 3 year old says hi to Morgan and her Pawpaw Dale.
I know its a day by day thing right now, but I have to say your family is on the right path. It is true everybody has to grieve in their own way. My husband and i had to deal with the situation in our own way. He had a lot of compassion with me when I would get upset seeing a pregnant woman or cry at the sight of a baby. It takes time but the faith that your family shares will see you through along with your Angel Cate. God bless you guys and if there is anything I can ever help with or Ali needs a ear, please call.
Love and prayers to your family,
Maddy McAnally

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blogs. They truly touch my heart. You don't know me, but I have been praying with you for the last several weeks. While I acknowledge, and by no means want to diminish, Baby Cate's reach and affect on the world, I think it is also very necessary to acknowledge and praise you as well for your words of wisdom, courage and honesty. While Cate's battle had us all praying, your words and the story you told were what drew us in. Your words are very powerful and very compelling, and I appreciate your faith and honesty. I don't think there was anyone who read your words that was not deeply touched.

While it saddens me that we did not get the outcome we all prayed for, I do not believe that God ignored us. I just believe that he had bigger and better intentions for Baby Cate, some of which have already revealed themselves. You and your family continue to be in my prayers and I have confidence that God will heal your hearts as much as possible. You have all shown great strength and faith and I know that will pull you through. You are obviously a great hero to your kids, your wife and to the rest of us. You have rescued some of us from dispair and renewed our faith, and for that, I thank you! May God bless you all!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blogs. They truly touch my heart. You don't know me, but I have been praying with you for the last several weeks. While I acknowledge, and by no means want to diminish, Baby Cate's reach and affect on the world, I think it is also very necessary to acknowledge and praise you as well for your words of wisdom, courage and honesty. While Cate's battle had us all praying, your words and the story you told were what drew us in. Your words are very powerful and very compelling, and I appreciate your faith and honesty. I don't think there was anyone who read your words that was not deeply touched.

While it saddens me that we did not get the outcome we all prayed for, I do not believe that God ignored us. I just believe that he had bigger and better intentions for Baby Cate, some of which have already revealed themselves. You and your family continue to be in my prayers and I have confidence that God will heal your hearts as much as possible. You have all shown great strength and faith and I know that will pull you through. You are obviously a great hero to your kids, your wife and to the rest of us. You have rescued some of us from dispair and renewed our faith, and for that, I thank you! May God bless you all!

Jolene Gremillion said...

Charlie, Ali and family,
Your faith in our God is heartwarming and refreshing. God is so good. May he continue to bless all of you. I admire you for continueing to blog and realizing that each of you will mourn differently.
Your mom has got to be the proudest grandma in heaven, sitting there rocking Cate and showing her off to everyone else!
Love to all,
Jolene Gremillion

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali,
Please continue to blog and thank you for sharing the most precious moments of your family with us ... I took a chance, logged on and saw three new entries ... I am sorry for not checking sooner and I promise to be more faithful in the future .... Cate's celebration of life was magnificant ... the music, Father's homily, Dude and Ella escorting their sister out of church .... a celebration I will never forget!

The Maturin's said...

You are right! The things our children know and say WOW me everyday! When I told my son, 10 years old, about Baby Cate he had a question for me. I have a daughter that is 2 1/2 and was a twin in the womb for 3 months when we lost one of the babies. My son asked "Mom, will our baby and Cate be friends in heaven." I told I am sure they are! He was so cute and so right!
We continue to pray for you daily!
Stacey Maturin

Mindy said...

Charlie and Ali I just want you to know that it may be hard at first after the loss of your sweet Cate but GOD does help you through each day, week, and year. After I lost my daughter (our first born)I felt that my heart had been ripped out and that I would never be the same person. But in time GOD helped me (us) to cope and to see past my saddness. When I think of my daughter today I only think of the wonderful things that she gave us. She only lived for 1 day from a heart condition she was born with. But GOD allowed her to go peacefully in my arms. I find peace in knowing that she left this world in her mothers arms 24 hours after she had arrived. I thank GOD for that. While at Hermann Hospital a minister came in to speak with us and while he spoke to us over Heather and it was his voice speaking, but we both felt that Heather was actually speaking to us letting us know that she would be ok. I remember as he spoke, for the first time since she had been born looked up into our face and made eye contact with us for that brief moment. My husband and I both felt such peace. I tell you this because as a few hours went by the doctors told us that she was weak and that her body couldn't fight anymore. They had done everything they knew to do but she wasn't going to make it. It was at that moment that I asked if we could have the male minister come in a baptise her. They looked at us puzzled and said that there was no male minister working at the hopital that day, that there wqs only a female priest and they would go and get her for us. GOD gave us a moment to hear our daughters voice and words through one of his angel. I hold that close to my heart for I know that one day we will be united in heaven. At first every baby girl I saw was a painful reminder of what was taken from me too soon. And yes even today I wonder what would she look like at the age she should be. I thank GOD each day that he gave me the chance to see Heather, touch her, smell her, and hold her close to my body. I hold those memories close to make heart and I am grateful for each one of them. GOD is great!! Heather was born 23 years ago! My husband and I both griefed differently but we respected our differences in griefing. God has always been a big part of our lives and it is our faith and love for GOD that got us through that difficult time. I know that GOD will get your family through this difficult time too. You and your family are a blessing to so many people. When we met you at the hospital on Fiday, June 20, as our son was having his 2nd open heart surgery I knew you both were special. Cate, Ella, and Dude are so blessed to have such wonderful parents who love the Lord and trust in Him.
You and your family are in our prayers,
Mindy& Karl Volney
2003 Cannonbury Ln.
Richmond, Texas, 77469

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Your blogs are just soooo amazingly comforting! I think because you speak from your heart and THAT is why your children feel so loved and why so many of us continue to check your blog!! Thanks!!
Still praying!
Teresa Clark

Lila Lambert said...

"Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; You have revealed to little ones the mysteries of Your Kingdom..." This reading from Sunday's Magnificat really spoke to my heart originally I felt this in Baby Cate, and now Ella and Dude...God is so good to allow us to see Him in the little ones in our lives, when we seek Him...He is there!!! Lila Lambert ( an a-ha moment for me)

Marin said...

Wow, aren't children amazing!! I guess this is why I was drawn towards pediatrics :) Thanks so much for continuing to share with all of us. We'll keep praying for all of you.
Love, marin

godspace3 said...

My youngest, Matthew, was in kindergarten when he was telling a story to others about his "older" brother Michael who lived in the attic. Michael would come down and eat cereal at night. His sibling is Jessica. After a friend called me to express concern about the child in the attic, I talked to Matthew - after I assured my friend that there was no child in the attic.

Michael was the age of the baby I miscarried 4 years before the first child was born. The kids never knew about the miscarriage and Michael is the name of the child that his father's family never got to bring home due to severe birth anomalies.

Kids KNOW the darndest things (paraphrase from Art Linkletter)

Thousand Oaks, CA