Catie's Wings

My friend and counseling colleague lost her courageous earthly battle with the cancer monster this week; the image I have of Catie's flight through Heaven's front door makes me 
sob and smile,
feel numb and then alive,  
and hyperventilate 
and experience peace 
all at once.

How is that even possible?

Catie was clearly an angel on earth whose time here wasn't nearly long enough. For me, anyway. So here I sit with conflicting emotions as I reflect on who she was, what she accomplished in her 57 years with us, and how I can move forward and carry the torch that lit up her world.

I wrote about how we met back in 2008 {here}, but basically she'd heard me speak at a conference the summer before in Dallas, and we'd collaborated a bit by email after that session. When it was decided not to hold that conference there the following summer, Catie drove herself to Chattanooga, Tennessee to attend another one of my workshops. 
Tenacity and drive ... I like that in a friend.

 We met again in the summer of 2009 in Dallas - that time I also got to meet her pride and joy, her grandson Michael! - when she came to participate in another of my workshops. Catie was indeed a lifelong learner with an insatiable thirst for empowerment tools. Even as she faced death, she was looking for ways to help others live. She and I got together one last time in the spring of 2011 when I flew to OK for an NSOC site visit. Not only did she meet me at the airport and help me navigate an unfamiliar place, but she also took me out and treated me to lunch and a visit. 

That was the first time that I realized how challenging and painful her journey to restored health must have been, because throat cancer had robbed her of her saliva. Something seemingly so small that she asked me to pray for when she was first diagnosed, that she not lose her spit. Something that we take for granted every day. Spit. She'd lost it despite our fervent prayers, but guess what? Catie never complained. She never even mentioned that she'd been forced to use artificial saliva. She was too busy living to sweat the small stuff, like spit. And after that amazing hour together with my friend, I got this gracious gift:

I had such a wonderful time! It's like I've known you always and I will be eternally grateful that I chose your breakout session 3 years ago! I feel so honored that I got to spend time with you and take you to lunch. I love my beautiful paper that will be right by my desk at work as a reminder of your encouragement. I could not have done this year without all my beautiful friends...and you are one of the beautiful-est! ANY TIME you are in Oklahoma I will come and get you and feed you!

:o) Catie 

This is the compassionate counselor who stole my heart. This is why my heart is breaking. And this is why I must continue to stand at the front door of my school every day and greet my little angels with a smile and a hug. 

Her legacy must take wing, through me, through us. Catie doesn't want me to be sad that she died; Catie wants me to celebrate that she lived. 

If you'd like to know a little more about Catie's life work - To Heal, To Teach, To Create - you can read a year's worth of her motivating, inspiring, and thought-provoking blog posts {here}.

Because she not only treasured her Anderson School Family but lived to serve, empower, and love them, Catie's celebration of life memorial service will be held at the school this upcoming Friday. What a special celebration that will be. 

Thank you, Catie, for showing me and countless others how to fly.


  1. What a beautifully tribute. What a blessing that your paths crossed! Praying for you sweet lady!


    1. She's from OK, just like you, Delighted! The more paths I cross, the more loss I'm going to have to travel through, I suppose. The thing is, in the end, the pleasure typically trumps the pain tenfold. Thanks for your comfort and prayers.

  2. I'm sure Catie would be honored that you're continuing her beautiful legacy in the lives of the children you bless on a daily basis.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Thank you, Tammy. It's so hard to let go but I can't help but feel gratitude that she's now more able than ever to live free! She truly was a model of inspiration to me.

  3. Oh, Barbara, I have no words.... {{hugs}}
    Chrissy ReadWriteSing

    1. Hugs are often even more potent than words; thank you, Chrissy!


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