Greetings to all! It’s been a big week around our house and a lot of fun too. Last Friday I picked Ella and Dude up from their after school care and was delighted to see that Ella was proudly carrying Ribbidy in her little arms. Ribbidy, is Ella’s pre-k class’s mascot and the student who has been chosen as “student of the week” gets to take Ribbidy home for the weekend. Well, needless to say Ribbidy has been the focus of my four year old daughter’s world since she started pre-k this year. Every Friday afternoon was met with a tinge of disappointment that someone else had been chosen as student of the week. Now, as wonderful a child as Ella is, she is also my wife and I’s daughter and if you have ever meet my wife and I then you know we are a bit animated and very vocal people. Well, needless to say our daughter is a perfect blend of my wife and I and therefore can be quite the busy bee in class sometimes. We had already planned a family outing Friday night to take the kids to the movies and then out to dinner, so we were very excited and then for Ella to be picked as student of the week was just the icing on the cake.
As student of the week at the next school Mass, which was today, you are given the class cross to take home and to pray for all the students at the school for the week. Well, today was also Grandparents day, so it was a double whammie for Ella, not only was she getting the cross at Mass, but both sets of Grandparents were going to be there for her to gloat just a little more. I went to Mass as the proud dad and sat in the back while Ella sat in the front with her grandparents. As the kids were filing into church they had music playing. All of a sudden I recognized the beginning notes of the song that was starting. It was, “The Mother Song” by Kelly Pease, the one that was sung at Cate’s funeral and the tears immediately started streaming down my face. Here I am sitting in the Church where we celebrated my daughter’s funeral with the song that was sung at her funeral being played. I pulled it together the best I could and then Mass began. Well, wouldn’t you know it, for the communion meditation they played it again and again the tears streamed down my face as I watched Ella singing the words of the song to my parents. She loves that song, her and Ali sing it almost every night before she goes to sleep. After Mass she was very excited to see me and to show me her cross so I walked her to her class where the grandparents where hanging out with the kids and then I headed off to work.
That song has continued to play in my head all day long and with it so many images of Cate have flashed through my head of her short life here with us. The last one was of the night before she went in for surgery. The room was filled with love ones and you could tell that she was so happy to see everyone. As each person held her she would just stare at them with this big ole cheesy smile and it was if she was soaking them up. There is a part of me that wishes I would have never put her down that night. There is a part of me that wishes I would have held her all night long and soaked up every second that I would have with her if I only knew then what I know now. As I write these words the pain falls from eyes in the shape of tears, the longing that I have for that little girl hurts to the core at some moments. I miss her today, I miss her a lot.
It really got me thinking this afternoon about my marriage and about my fatherhood. I want to soak up every minute I have with my wife and my children. I want to savor it deep in my heart knowing that we don’t know what tomorrow brings. I want to try to be a little more patient than I have been over these past few months with Ali, Ella and Dude. I want to hold them more, kiss them more, and listen to them more than I have done lately. I want to be quicker to listen than to get frustrated. I want to laugh more than fuss. I want have candy for dinner some nights just because we can and it means that we get to hang out as a family enjoying the moment and each others presence. When they crawl in my bed at 3:00am I want to pull them close to me, feel their little arm around my neck and smell their little breath even if it smells bad. I want to play outside, inside, in the car, in my truck, wherever they want to play, because there really isn’t anything else that is THAT IMPORTANT.
Unfortunately, we have had to learned all to close to home that life is short. We are not guaranteed anything except this moment that we find ourselves. My prayer today is that God allows me to be in that moment, experience that moment, and savor that moment. Also, that those moments be written on the walls of my heart, my wife’s heart and on the walls of our kid’s hearts forever. Thank you Lord for my beautiful family! Thank You Lord, for our precious Cate, though her earthly life was short, through You may her little life continue to teach us about what it means to truly live. Amen