Sunday, August 17, 2008

A One Winged Butterfly

Greetings to All! As I sit at our breakfast table on this lazy Sunday morning listening to the kids play their imaginary games my heart is a little heavy, not bad just a little. Ali had said this morning that the past few days had been tough on her. I could tell that something was bothering her, but I tend to think that I have done something to upset, offend, or bother her instead of remembering that we lost our daughter less than two months ago. It’s that whole “movie thing” that I live in. This week was A LOT better than last week, it just seemed to go a little smoother. We had another milestone, the 13th came and left pretty quietly. It’s hard to believe that it has already been two months since Cate’s surgery and the heart wrenching grace-filled days that followed.

Our pediatrician called last week with the results of Cate's autopsy. This kind of brought back up a lot of memories and emotions. There is a series of the questions you ask yourself when you lose a child. Did I do enough? Did I make the right decisions? Is there more that I could have done? These questions haunt the recesses of your mind and heart. In those dark moments of grief they seem to come up more poignantly. Of course these were the questions that I did not want to ask, but I knew that I had to. Dr. Mark went on to explain that everything surgically look great, and that he had even called a profusionist friend of his to ask about how they continue to give the heart oxygen during surgery because he wanted to more fully understand this process of Cate’s surgery. After the surgery the surgeon told us himself, that he was unhappy with the amount of “clamp time” that they had to do in order to get Cate’s heart surgically corrected. Dr. Mark went on to say that he truly believes that it was the amount of clamp time that was the downfall of Cate’s heart. He said that he truly believes that the right side of Cate’s heart died that day of surgery.

I asked him why we did not see the complexities of Cate’s heart before and were there any procedures that we could have done before the surgery that would have enable us to see the complexity of Cate’s heart. If Cate’s heart was SO complex why was she not having “Tet spells?” This is where babies turn blue because of the lack of oxygen in their blood. He said, Charlie, I don’t know why Cate appeared to everyone to be so healthy. Even, the night before her surgery we went to Dr. Mark’s house so that he could give her a “once over” to make sure she was ready for surgery. He thoroughly checked her out and told Ali, “She looks great, yall go have that surgery and come on back home.” He said that after reading the autopsy he just can’t understand how Cate was not much sicker that she appeared to be to everyone.

Although it is difficult losing a child, Cate was such a joy. Our memories are filled with joyful moments of laughter and love. She was truly our most joyful baby, all of our children are joyful, but Cate was just different as a baby. The memories that we have are ones of a smiling, healthy, beautiful baby girl and for that I am so grateful. We did not have to watch our child suffer for seven months, we got to watch her live life to the very fullest a seven month old can. I smile even as I type this just thinking of Cate’s joyful presence. This is what I miss the most and what pains my heart to tears at time. I remember one night in the hospital, at Texas Children’s, as I sat at her bedside crying my eyes out, one of the profusionist left his machine and came and sat beside me and just put his hand on my leg. He just sat there, he did not say a word, he just sat there with me. As I went to walk out of the room he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, “I lost my son fourteen years ago, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. She will be with you forever whether you leave here with her or without her.” How true those words are, I do feel that she is always with me. As I have told you all before I feel her presence very strongly at mass. The other day I was at mass and I quickly noticed that her presence was not there with me. I know that may sound a little crazy but I was very aware that her sweet spirit was not around. As soon as I noticed that she was not there with me, I heard her voice in my heart say, “Sorry dad, God has me working on something right now, see you soon.” And sure enough the next time I was at mass, she was back there with me. It was really a very neat experience.

Since Cate’s death butterflies have been a real connection to Cate for Ali. People who lose children or loved ones will often have something that reveals the love one’s presence or a connection of some sort. For Ali’s family their connection to Phil, the brother that she lost, is dimes and rainbows. We have jars full of dimes and their car ashtrays are full of dimes. It’s just a connection that they have with him. For Ali and Cate, its butterflies. Ali and I were talking on the balcony the other night about my conversation with Dr. Mark. I was relaying the information that Dr. Mark had given me and I was specifically telling her about how Dr. Mark said that he believed that the right side of Cate’s heart had most likely died the day of surgery. She smiled and said you know what? “I was talking to one of my students today and a butterfly went fluttering by. I was telling her how butterflies were very special to me. The student then responded, ‘You know Ms. Cantrell, a butterfly can live for 12- 14 days with only one wing.’” Now, we don’t know if this is actually true or not, and if its not, don’t tell us, per Ali’s request. It’s just another connection to our sweet Cate and the beautiful reality that her life and the grace filled days that followed her surgery. Her short yet beautiful life touched our family and so many others so deeply, just as butterflies can brighten our day with beauty and grace as they flutter by us for a brief moment.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, cards, and support. They are so very appreciated Ali and I were talking just the other night about how blessed we feel by those people who have not forgotten about us, now that the “hype” of Baby Cate is over, so again thank you. A prayer request, we are beginning the process of getting the blogs turned into a book because of the overwhelming request we have had. This is much more emotional for me than I had anticipated. Going back and re-reading the blogs during those days is difficult, but I want to do it while they are fresh on my mind. Please pray for good discernment of what goes in and what does not go in and that we find a publisher that is a perfect fit for us. Also, after re-reading the blogs from when we were in Houston, I want to thank you for interpreting my jiber jabber at times, WOW, there was some terrible grammatical things going on there. And last but not least if you still are wanting a Baby Cate prayer card but have not wanted to ask, go ahead, ask! It honors us to know that you want to pray for our family and to ask our precious Cate to pray for you. So again, if you want one just drop me your mailing address to . You all really do mean the world to us and we appreciate you staying with us, Please keep praying for us! Much Love, The Cantrells


Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher like Ali and I always find consolation in my students or children in general when sometimes you just need to hear something straight from God. The butterfly is awesome. Still praying!

Anonymous said...

May butterflies always find Ali especially on those harder days and may your hearts continue to heal. You all are an amazing family and I wish only the very best for your future. I have been with you all since the beginning but only recently started to comment because I want you to know we are still here and you all have changed my way of thinking and my faith.
Lots of Love

Kayla Gaspard said...

Just letting you know that I'm still praying for ya'll!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I am so happy you decided to write a book. I know God will guide you along the way. I love the butterfly story. Kids are a great way for God to communicate with us. I sure hope Ali has a great class. Like someone has said before; I hope she sees tons of butterflies!

Still praying,

Katie Prather :)

ali said...

All this time that I've been reading, and you guys have been faithfully and courageously putting your hearts out there, I have wished that this could be available for all who need hope in the form of a book...I just never wanted to suggest it because it could sound like an odd suggestion, and could be just one more thing to worry about and deal with. I am so thankful that your story will be available to others and that Cate's story will continue to impact those who need hope even beyond this blog. I am still with you guys, still praying, and I don't plan on stopping.

peace to u.

em vanderlick said...

hugs to all! i hope the start of school is going smoothly :)

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you always and praying every day.
We love you,

Anonymous said...

I'm just a random person who has been following and praying for all of you through your entire journey since i heard you at the Young Adult retreat for the HT diocese.

Your family gives me so much strength and courage. I feel so fortunate to be/have been a part of this whole journey.

Just had to share, but last night I had a dream about Dude. For however it happened, I'll assume I babysat him for the day for the sake of the story.. so, we hung out all day. Played hide and seek for hours at my grandparents big ole' house. He was so much fun, and so sneeky changing hiding places when i wasnt looking, then laughing when i found him. Then we played superheros. This was such a fun dream! so, my prayers all today were for your family and especially for Dude.

I pray God blesses you all with many many fun days like the one i got to have in my dream.

Always praying,

Lila Lambert said...

Will be praying for the book to be a special blessing for your family and for others, Cate has already touched the heart of so many and taken them for Jesus....
Though the ship is battered
And the sails are torn...
The Anchor holds in spite of
the storm...

sherriedavid said...

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't check Cate's blog for your updates. I tell you they inspire me more than I think you will every know. I am sure I am not the only one. You guys make me stop to appreciate the small things and I think in these busy times that is needed. We are still praying for you family and will always continue to do the same.
And the book I can't wait to get a copy.
Much Love
Todd and Sherrie

Anonymous said...

We are still with you in prayer and spirit. The blog continues to be an inspiration to me!!! I cannot wait to read the will be beautiful, like Baby Cate!
Wishing Ali continues to see lots of butterflies, now when I see one...I will think of Cate!
Breyan and family

Crystal said...

Thanks for the heartfelt message. Always thinking of you and your family. Prayers will continue from the Judice family.

God Bless,
Crystal Judice

Anonymous said...

I missed your blog this week! It's amazing how much reading your blog has become a part of my life! I am happy to hear that it wasn't neccesarily because it was a rough week for you or something, but sorry to hear it was a tough one for Ali! Anyway the prayers are still coming! I think of your family so often and feel connected to your pain! I think the book idea is so awesome! I will for sure be praying for that too!
Lord Jesus continue to carry Charlie and Ali and their children in this journey and show them how loved they are! Amen!
Teresa Clark

Pat Broussard said...

A Book! What a tribute to your daughter who has touched the lives of so many. Have no fear, prayers will continue.

All my love

Ms. Pat

Anonymous said...

I hope that the picture of Cate and whatever she was covered in in her bumbo seat makes it to the book! where she is just laughing hysterically!! haha!! i adore that pic and show it to the girls often!! makes us all start to giggle and hannah says "mommy, i bet she is making moriah giggle like crazy in heaven!" i sure do hope so!

love you

BreezieGirl said...

When my friend Courtney died, her family told a story about pennies. Ever since then, whenever any of us find pennies, we think of Court.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog since I came across it just after Baby Cate's surgery. This blog is just amazing and such a tribute to the love you have for your family! I have never commented, but just wanted to let you know that I have been praying for you and check your blog daily. You are both amazing writers and I think a book is just where these entries should be chronicled! In fact, when I first started following your story, I was convinced that you were a writer!

Prayers from Arizona!


they call me the boss said...

Still with and praying for you!
God Bless

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love students! Sometimes they say crazy things that leave you completely speechless thinking, "Did that just come out of their mouth," and sometimes they say the most profound things that leave you in complete awe of them. Ali, I hope the school year is a blessing for you. We love you guys.

The Orillions

Laurie Reed said...

Your writing captures my heart and I continue to follow your journey daily. I do not post like I should, but I think of you & your family everyday. You & Ali's pain is great. In times like these, you always want to ask God, why. You have been loved unconditionally by Angel Cate & felt love like many will never know. God has blessed you with this love and thank you for sharing. Cate will always be the beautiful butterflies in your life and her love will live on forever. God Bless you & your family.

Amy said...

Giggling butterfly... You little girl was such a chub and you can see she was a very happy baby in the pictures you posted. What wonderful memories you have.

Still praying for you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you and your beautiful family! Always remember how many of us are behind you, that you don't always see--I think there are TONS of us--praying faithfully for you guys every day.
The book sound like a great idea to me....its about time you stop posing as a land man!
Prayers and love to you and Ali!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear that you will be doing the book. You have such a great sense of humor and a simple, yet beautiful way with words. It's exciting to think of how many more lives will be touched by your precious Cate and your family's story and tremendous faith. Still here praying for and with your family.

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali, I had no idea that the autopsy hadnt come back yet until my mom told me. I know that "Dr Mark" is getting a little on the elderly side these days but I firmly believe he and the other doctors will never understand why her heart didnt show the complexity of it other than that God wanted you guys and Cate to have the 7 months of love and happiness that you were able to have. I love you both so much and you are always on my mind and in my prayers! Love, Erin Dawson

Anonymous said...

Now when I see a butterfly I will think of sweet Cate. Keeping her and all of you in my heart and prayers.

Carol in NYC

Anonymous said...

I was VERY close to my Grandmother. She is the reason I am Catholic, why I have a deep love for our Blessed Mother, and before she passed she suffered with Alzheimers. Well LONG story short I was not able to attend the funeral in Nevada, since I live in Texas. I think of her daily. I asked God if she could give me a sign that she is still with me, and a giant butterfly flew by my head. Well I kept seeing butterflies and I thought ok I might be grasping for a sign. Not too long after I gave up my mom mailed me a Christmas plate from my Grandmothers belongings. It was all wrapped up the way my Grandma would do things. As I began to open the box I noticed the plate was wrapped in a very old paper towel. As I kept unwrapping the plate I dropped the paper towel, it was then I noticed the orange print all over the paper was covered in Butterflies!!!!! Everyday summer, or winter I see a butterfly! I love God so much for giving me the grace!

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of you.

Angela Sauer

Anonymous said...

I have never written you before this, but your reference to butterflies prompted me to write. FOLLOW UP on that link! I lost my father on July 31, 2007; shortly before he died (we had about 6 weeks to be with him and talk and pray and mourn before he died), I learned that many people who have lost loved ones feel a connection to that person through butterflies. I followed up on this, and learned that the butterly is a symbol of everlasting life. I bought a butterfly charm from James Avery, and it came with a beautiful description of the connection of butterflies to life after death - the butterfly's process of cocoon to butterfly is like Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Find it and read it - it is uplifting! If I can find it online, I'll send it to you. Don't tell anyone, but I also got a small tattoo of a butterfly on my right shoulder. I feel like my Daddy is with me watching over me. Anyway - please continue to allow the butterly to be your comfort - it is a real thing!!!

Anonymous said...

Butterflies are Gods' gift of promise, life and rebirth. Cate is soaring!
Much Love,
The McManus Family