There are individuals that come into our lives and we are never the same. My daughter met a little girl, only a couple of years older and as I got to know her parents and her older sister, the two little girls became friends. My daughter was never bothered by the braces on her legs or noticed she walked a little slower, yet the two girls did see one another’s hearts and shared infectious laughter. The first time Caitlyn spent the night, I realized my daughter never rushed her out to play but played at the pace that Caitlyn set. I loved listening to the giggles coming from the bedroom. Caitlyn had wit and that sweet, mischievous look in her eye was undeniable. There were many spend-the-night parties with these two girls through the next few years. Each year brought new challenges to Caitlyn’s health. As I watched her go from braces to her wheelchair, I noticed her smile remained radiant. Her humor was always spot on. Her beauty was radiant.
I walked into our house sad as she left our home for what would be the last spend-the-night party. Her health was deteriorating and her parents were searching for answers. Fundraisers were organized and money was given. Caitlyn had hundreds of cheerleaders. To know her was to completely fall in love with her. Every one of us wanted her to be healed, to walk, to run, to see with perfect vision. She spent time with doctors and time in a hyperbaric chamber in hopes to bring healing to her body.
God had a different plan. He wanted to show each of us how to live a radiant life in the most inconvenient and unwanted circumstances. He wanted to show the world how to wrestle with wanting to give up and knowing it’s not what is best. He wanted to share up close and personal that His grace is always sufficient and in that we can live a gracious life. He wanted to teach us that perseverance and finishing the race well is how you live your life in the every day. Caitlyn never had it easy. In fact, it just seems unfair. A beautiful girl, full of life and laughter, never getting the chance to live life to the fullest – at least how we define “the fullest”.
When I read her sister’s post:
Today at 11:53 Caitlyn took her last breath. Her heart stopped at 11:55. Please pray for my family. We hurt the loss of Caitlyn. We celebrate her new life with Jesus in a perfect body with legs and feet that walk on streets of gold and eyes that are looking at Jesus.
I wondered when she saw that beautiful angel come for her to take her home, did the radiant beauty take her breath away and suddenly she breathed a full breath of Heaven. When the scales that had imprisoned her eyesight fell off and she saw Jesus, I think she laughed with the most infectious laugh and He laughed and embraced her. As she stood, in that first moment, in full health on strong legs that will never be dependant on anyone or anything to hold her up, I think she danced.
When the words were spoken to her, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” she bowed down and spoke words of praise to God with complete clarity. Her slurred speech that a cruel disease had stolen is now restored. While my heart breaks for her sweet family who loved and cherished her, I smile because she is whole. I only wish I could peek into eternity and watch her dance, hear her laugh and talk with clarity. I would love to watch her look at everything as she sees with perfect sight. She lived the life of a good and faithful servant. She accepted her role in God’s story. Don’t get me wrong, there were days she hated it. She struggled to accept what had been given to her. There was anger, days full of sadness, and withdrawal. It was those days that God gave greater grace. She would pick herself up (so to speak) and refocus. She would laugh, smile, embrace, and give her gift to those near her. Her gift of living a life that is not defined by wheelchairs, feeding tubes, and limits. She chose to live and to love. She lived for others. Caitlyn was our gift. The sun rose on December 29 and God spoke sweet words to angels and said today is the day Cailyn will be whole. God ordained her days and she lived those days teaching all those that knew her that life is full of inconveniences, disappointments, pain, and sickness but life’s hardships do not have to define who you are. She taught us that pure joy, hope, friendships, laughter, and Jesus get to define who you are.
Caitlyn fought the good fight. She finished her race. She is clothed in dignity and grace. She taught us well.
As I close my eyes, I hear two little girls giggling – one in perfect health being taught by the other to embrace life and live it well. I smile as my memory sees two little girls sitting at the breakfast table laughing and eating chocolate chip pancakes. The one in perfect health and the other teaching me to enjoy the little things with pure delight. Remembering two little girls strolling the halls of church one walking with healthy legs while the other in her wheelchair leading my daughter with gentle friendship.
The years have passed and our families have gone in different directions, but the impact of Caitlyn’s grace-filled life impacts us still. My daughter is out of town, the news surfaces of Caitlyn’s passing and my phone rings, “Mom! Caitlyn’s gone. Did you know?” “just think, Mom, she’s walking and can see now.” As I hung up, I thought to myself, I think she could always see. She saw things we couldn’t see. She saw with her heart. She saw love in bright colors and she saw grace in 3-D. Now she sees the face of Jesus.