Thursday, 31st March, found my feed filled with news and concern over Courageous Caitie, a little girl diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia, who’d been fighting it since early this year. By afternoon, the concern for her had turned to grief and prayers for the family she left behind.
I did not know her or her parents personally, though I have common friends with her parents, and have had exchanges with her godmother over children and motherhood in general through Instagram. This is all the connection I have with her and yet I feel compelled to write this and gather my thoughts and feelings about her passing.
My eldest is about four or five months younger than Caitie. They are both dragons. He would have shared her name if he’d been born a girl instead. I’d been in love with the name “Caitlin” long before I met my husband.
Caitlin Soleil. When I saw her name on her godmother’s Instagram post I couldn’t help commenting on how beautiful her name is. Pure sunshine. I thought her parents named her well. It took a month of following her journey on Facebook before I realised that this little girl I’d been praying for was the same one I “met” months before. And even in her illness and pain, her face still showed it. Pure sunshine.
As I prayed that morning, I asked over and over, “Why put her through this? Why have her go through this only to take her?” Over and over as though I had some personal stake in her journey. I’ve laughed at myself, reminding myself that we are strangers and that this is a mere superficial interest because we have no connection. And yet I continued. “You must have something planned. She must survive this somehow because she didn’t go through this without purpose.”
But in the back of my mind, I could hear the echoes already. That the best thing to pray for was for everything to turn out for the best.
It wasn’t long before I saw her parents post what many faithful have said: Your will be done.
It sounds like an act of giving up, now that I think about it. I would have to talk to someone who doesn’t believe as I do what and how they feel about it.
“Your will be done.”
It’s a sign of ultimate trust. A sign of ultimate Faith. That there simply are things that are beyond our ken; things that we will have to trust will lead to what we are meant to be part of.
Even though we are complete strangers to each other, I cannot help but cry when I look back on the journey her parents shared on Facebook. Her father is a photographer and had captured many moments both happy and painful to view. As someone on the outside looking in, I already feel a certain level of anguish–perhaps it’s because I am also a parent and cannot fathom having the same strength Caitie–Caitlin…her mother mentioned she preferred being called Caitlin–and her parents had and have. To have shared their little ray of sunshine to the world as they went through their trial…how well they had taught her to remain steadfast in her love for the Lord.
Yesterday they said goodbye to her in a fashion that, to me, spoke volumes of how they are able to cope. The acceptance of the void Caitlin left while at the same time celebrating a life well-lived and now lived with the Lord. I cannot help but smile through tears, looking at the photographs they shared of their farewell.
I was asked if Caitlin is some kind of celebrity because her journey was well-documented on TV. I said no and wanted to explain why her journey was so important but I was too proud to show tears that I continue to feel are a little silly for someone who simply watched the journey.
She was a child who showed what it is to have Faith. She was a child who showed what it means to be strong. She was a child who embodied courage.
Pure sunshine through it all.