Sometimes it feels surreal, sometimes I sit in our backyard and look at the spot where the baby pool sat and the laughter could be heard so sweetly and it all seems like a dream that just continues to replay in my mind's eye. I often ask Ali, "do you have days where you ask yourself, was that all real?, Did that really happen to Cate...and to us?" Sometimes it seems so far away and then some days, the pain is so fresh and tangible it’s like the days and months after our sweet Cate left her earthly body and began a life that we thirst for.
Cate's birthday was on November 7, she is 3 years old...it's weird to think about sometimes. It's weird to think about what our life would be like if she were still alive, what would she be like, what would she sound like, what color would she have and then other questions arise in my heart, what would I be like? What would Ali be like, What would Ella and Dude be like? Sometimes death can leave you with more questions than answers, we, as believers, have heard all the clichés and they don't seem to sit right with you...when they are directed at you. As a husband I always knew that mother's had a connection with their babies, that term is regardless of age believe me, I was my mother's baby until the day she drew her last breath, but it was not until we began this journey through our grief that I began to see the depth of a mother's love, commitment and unity with that miracle that she carries every so gently in her womb.
I have often thought about Mary at the foot of the cross but to be honest never really pondered the depth of her sorrow and agony that she must have experienced that dreadfully beautiful day. As I watch my precious bride journey down this path it is one of the most difficult things that I have ever experienced. After 2 years, I know there is nothing I can say, there is nothing I can "do" and that I simply have to trust that if she feels like talking she will and if she doesn't...she won't...so STOP ASKING CHARLIE! I often see our sweet Mother Mary shine through her as she continues on in her daily routine as her eyelids can barely contain the flood that wants to just rage out of her broken heart. She quietly puts her face to wind and continues on this journey showing our family what it means continue to serve even when it hurts, when you don't want to, when it almost seems like you can't even lift your hands up.
One of the things about Ali that has always intrigued me and really drew me to her was her simplistically beautiful spirituality, it wasn't heady, overly pious, overly traditional or overly complex, it was simply...beautiful. I can remember her talking about praying when we were dating, she said, "You know Charlie, I don't pray like you do, whenever I am walking (exercising), I picture Mary walking along side of me with her hair in a ponytail. She said, I pray my rosary and I just talk to her, like a friend." I remember that day, thinking WOW, I wish I could stop all my overthinking and start simply participating. Through Cate's death, well let's be honest, I still haven't stopped, it’s not in my nature. I overthink EVERYTHING, which is probably why my stomach is a wreck, but my stomach problems are another blog. I have thought about who did this, who didn't do that, who said this, who said nothing, why God did this, why God didn't do that, should I have made this decision or that one and on and on and on. All these thoughts can completely preoccupy my time, attention, and even my energy.
On the other hand, I watch Ali, who may at times have the same thoughts and questions, but she handles them so differently, she is a mother. She will love on our kids, do their homework with them, get them bathed and ready for bed without saying a word, then I’ll ask her how her day was and you’ll see the pain flash like lighting in her eyes and she’ll say, “I was real lonesome today.” I’ll wrap my big goofy arms around her and just hold her, sometimes, it’s the only thing there is to do. If that would have been me, I would have come home sat on the couch, felt sorry for myself, probably yelled at Dude and then felt bad and gone to bed, but not my sweet precious wife. She encompasses what it means to be a woman of God, I believe she treads in the sunken footsteps of our Mother Mary. She would never say anything of these things about herself, so I’ll say them for her because I am so proud and lucky that she is my wife and so grateful that she is the mother of my children.
So this is a thank you to you Ali, you are amazing and I love you more than words, to my mother, and all the mothers out there who choose to follow the selfless path of the Sweet Virgin Mary, may she take you by the hand and guide you down whatever paths you may find yourselves on in life!