May 18, 2000. The day the music died for me. In late April of 2000, Catie and I were getting ready to go to Duke for an experimental treatment. We gathered up crafts and matching pajamas and started to pack. She said she had a headache so I brought her to the pediatrician just to make sure we could still go to NC. Whatever the doctor saw prompted her to tell me to get Catie to AMC right then. When we got there and they scanned her head we learned that the cancer had gone to her brain.
I called her doctor at MSK and asked what we were looking at. He said she would have about two weeks. So Larry and I decided we would stay home where she could see family and friends. I let my family know that the end was near. I called her Hospice social worker at home and let her know we needed to go back on Hospice.
We settled Catie in the downstairs bedroom and little by little she was sleeping more and more. We tried to keep her comfortable. (I had some of her meds drawn up and thumbtacked to the wall in the bedroom so that I could get to them quickly.) At one point she woke up and was happy and lucid. She asked to see her friends and her cousin. We got the girls over to the house and Catie proceeded to give away her American Girl dolls. She wanted her friends to have them. Then she said she was tired and went back to bed.
I was lying next to her with my hand on her head when she took her last breath. I couldn't believe that I wasn't going to see her grow up, graduate, get married, have kids. My heart was broken. But she told me before she died that every time I see a ladybug I would know that she was with me.
I thought I would never be happy again, but life goes on. I had my two boys and Larry and we enjoyed being a family. Now I look at my boys and I am so proud of them, of who they have become. And I think how much Catie would have loved them. I know she is in heaven with Larry and I know that they watch out for us.
Now, I can face each day with joy and gratitude. My two best teachers are Larry and Catie. I know she would have changed the world for the better. And I keep my eyes open for ladybugs each and every day and when I see one, I smile and say "Hi Catie."
Teeing Off on Cancer - September 9, 2023