Greetings to all. The formal celebration of Baby Cate's earthly life have all ended. The outpouring of love for our little girl and our family was just amazing. The Mass was beautiful and I mean beautiful! Our little girl packed the church in Rayne, which is a fairly large church. Ali and I were very intentional about the readings and the music for the Mass. We truly wanted it to be a celebration of Cate's life, not a quiet and somber ceremony, but a ceremony that was filled with joy and hope, just as Baby Cate's life here on earth was. The first reading was Isaiah 49: 1-6 and the Psalm was Psalm 33. The Songs were "Never Let Go" by Matt Redman, "Who is to Come" by Kelly Pease, "Mother's Song" by Kelly Pease, "Set Me As a Seal" by Matt Maher, "Amazing Grace" by Chris Tomlin, and "We Stand and Lift Up our Hands" by Chris Tomlin. Fr. Michael Delcambre, who baptized Cate delivered the homily and knock it out of the Park! John Ray Perkins, Cate's God Father and I were pallbearers and at the last minute, "Dude" Cate's big brother ran up and helped walk is sister down the isle. The whole thing was absolutely perfect in Ali and I's opinion. It has been quiet around our house the last couple of days. Strangely quiet. I can't put my finger on it and am obviously still trying to process it, but life seems much slower. I enjoy our kids more, I enjoy my wife more, I enjoy the little day to day activities that once irritated me, just a little more. But there is an emptiness that is left in our hearts, there is an emptiness left in our home, there is an emptiness left in the swing that Cate once sat in, there is emptiness in her baby bed that I look in every time I pass it. In my head I know that she is in a "better place" but in my heart I just long for her smile, her smell, even her dirty diapers. I know that in time God will console this emptiness, I don't know if it will ever, "go away." I didn't really see very many people at the Funeral Mass itself. I was focused on Cate, my family, and giving all praise and thanksgiving to my God for allowing us to be the parents of such a wonderful little girl. But, I did notice the faces of two people, parishioners of the Church that I worked at in Houston for a few years. They are just wonderful, and I mean wonderful people, and about a year and a half ago they lost their teenage daughter very suddenly. She was a teen in the youth group that I had the privilege to run, while we were in Houston. I talked to them both at the reception that my in-laws had at the after Mass and I said, you all know what this feels like and told them of one person's comment to Ali and I that, "she wishes she could tell us that it gets better, but it only gets worse” they said that was not true, the pain doesn't go away that God just helps you to deal with better. Those were words that I could hold onto, they were words that strengthened my hope. I won't ever forget Cate, stop loving Cate, or even missing her. We will always be, Minus One, in the Cantrell house, but our God is faithful and his word tells us, Blessed are those who Morn, for they shall be Comforted! Yes, we shall be comforted, we already are comforted and I know with confidence that our comfort will only increase as we allow God to heal our broken hearts. It is a process, it is a journey, one that we must and will take, because of our Faith, Hope, and Trust in our God. My heart just aches right now, as it should, if it didn't then that means we wouldn't have loved and been loved by our precious Cate. Many of you asked at the Funeral home and after the mass that we continue this blog, that we continue sharing the Cantrell's journey into the heart of our God and so Ali and I will, as long as you all want to come along. Thank you to all of your generous prayerful, physical, and financial support to our family during the difficult time. We love you all and remain in Hope, remain with us in prayer.
I want to leave you all with something that God put on my heart this past Thursday as we were preparing for Cate's Funeral. The day after Baby Cate's surgery when she was on the ecmo machine Ali and I were talking about God and about Him "showing up" to heal Cate's heart. I told Ali about something that I had read in a book years back about God kinda having a hero-complex. Look throughout scriptures, He always like to show up big and sometimes He would kinda drag out the story to make an even bigger finish." I was reflecting on these words I had spoken to Ali when I realized, God SHOWED UP! He showed up in a HUGE way! He brought together and is still bringing together people from every nation under His banner. That He, through the suffering of Baby Cate and our little family, He is drawing thousands and thousands back to Him. He did a MIGHTY MIGHTY work in only twelve days, we keep saying seven months, including myself, but in all actuality, He did this mighty work in twelve days! He drew people from the corners of the earth to His feet in prayer for Baby Cate, in TWELVE DAYS! Our family is humbled and honored that we got to play a small role in God showing the world how He can make Good out of even the worst situation. So, please don't feel like God didn't show up, because we, our family, feel like He showed up BIG TIME! Isaiah 49:6, "It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." He used a little baby girl, our Sweet Baby Cate to be a light to the Nations that His salvation might reach to the ends to the earth! Thank you God for Showing up! We love you!