Greetings to all! This past weekend we had a great family weekend! Friday night Ali and I got to go on a date night and then Saturday we participated in “Family Adventure Day” to raise money for the Healing House, which is the place that we asked people to donate instead of sending flowers to Cate’s funeral, there are pictures of the day at www.flickr.com/photos/cantrellkids . Friday was the first date night since the huge falling out that Ali and I had two weeks ago. I gave my spiritual director this analogy today over lunch to describe the time that our family finds itself in right now. Have you ever watched little kids run down a steep hill? It’s funny because at first they are in control but the further they get down the hill and the more they pick up speed the more they loose all control of their little bodies. They eventually can no longer maintain their balance and what do they do? Fall, and then they continue to roll down the hill until they reach the bottom. Well, I believe this is exactly what has happened to our little family over the past four months. After Cate died we started running down this hill of grief and at first we could “control” it, but the further and further we got down the hill and the more and more speed we picked up and the more out of control we got until eventually, we fell. It was probably about three to four weeks ago that we fell and two weeks ago that we reached the bottom of the hill. Now for the past two weeks I truly feel like we have begun the ascent uphill and we are doing it together, all of us even the kids. They have been putting into words their feelings about their sister in ways that they have not over the past four months. Are we out of the woods, no not in the least bit, but I do feel like we have at least started walking back up the hill and we both know that it is because there are a lot a prayers heading our way from all of you faithful sojourners on this road in which we travel.
Now on to the reason I blog tonight. This weekend I did what any good South Louisiana native does in the fall, watched the LSU Fighting Tigers football game. Saturday afternoon a friend of mine called and said that he was going over to another buddy of ours to watch the game and wanted to see if I wanted to join them. The friend that we were going to watch the game at just had his first child a few months back, a beautiful baby girl. Long before Cate went to have her surgery Ali offered his wife all of Cate’s clothes that she did not fit into anymore. His wife was so delighted and I remember that she washed, folded, and had them all put away months before their daughter was born. We were glad that the clothes were going to be put to good use and that the person who got them was so very grateful for them. Well, after Cate died there was one particular night gown that Ali wanted to keep, so she called his wife and asked if she would mind giving that one night gown back, of course she completely understood and offered everything back. Ali insisted that she keep the rest, it was just this one little night gown of Cate’s that was very sentimental to her.
The other night before I left to watch the game Ali asked me if I would not mind picking the nightgown up while I was there. When I got over to their house I asked him if he knew where that nightgown was because Ali had asked me to pick it up. He called his wife and found out where it was, but did not bring it outside right away. We then proceeded to hoop and holar as we watched the Tigers play ball and after the game when the night was winding down he brought out a plastic grocery bag and gave it to me. Not remembering that I had asked him for the nightgown earlier in the night I opened the bag and saw my little girls clothes in it and it tugged hard at my heart. If you remember from the last blog, it is the “missing” that can sneak up on you. In that moment I realized that I had no one to bring those clothes home to that would wear them. I said to my friends, “wow, that’s kind of weird you know, those are Cate’s clothes, but I don’t have Cate to wear them. His eyes welled with tears and he quickly turned his back and looked at the sky, the field, whatever he could to not make eye contact with me. I said, hey bro, what’s up, are you ok? At first he would not turn around so, I said it again, hey man, what’s going on? He said, “I realized that as I handed you that bag, that you don’t have a daughter to take those home to. He went on to apologize for crying and said that he has never wanted to breakdown in front of me, that I had enough to deal with and that I did not need him crying in front of me adding to what I was already feeling.
He is a former football jock and was quite the head cracker in his high school football days. I asked him, “When you played ball in high school did you have one guy that you loved playing football with?” He responded yes with a smile and named his teammate by name. I said those plays when he got hurt were you worried about him, was there a part of you that hurt cause he was not out there playing with you? He responded with a smile, yeah. How do you think that made him feel, that you loved playing with him that much and that you cared about him that much? I said, I bet it made him feel pretty dang special to you. Well, brother your tears don’t add to my grief they lighten it in some way, because they show me that you love me, my family, and my daughter. I don’t want you to feel like you have to hold them back anymore around me.
As I sat on my back steps tonight reflecting on that conversation the scripture that came to my heart was Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who Rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” This in a nutshell is what it means to be a community, this is what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ. There are times that we will all rejoice together, and there are times that we will all weep together. Ever noticed that kids often run down hills with other kids? When one of them falls it is like dominos, they just start taking each other out, rolling down the hill together. When they get to the bottom, they ALL get back up and starting running back up the hill to do it all over again. We have some amazing brothers and sisters in our life who have run down this hill with us and are going to run back up with us and for that we are eternally grateful! Thank you, to all of you who are still with us and as we hopefully and hope-filled begin the walk back up this hill, hold our hands and laugh with us, hold our hands and cry with us knowing that one day we will all be back on top of the hill! Much Love, The Cantrells