Tag Archives: Miracles

Dear Katie,

For my readers who don’t know Katie’s story, please refer back here and here. Katie has been home for a few months and returns to school today. She is still working so hard and has come so far and her reward is a touch of normalcy, she gets to go to school half time for the rest of the year! Go Katie, Go Katie!!!


Dear Katie,

What a huge day for you after so many months of struggling and fighting! Congratulations on your return to ol’ LOHS!

I think about you and your family everyday and I am not the only one. Can you believe there are 2083 followers of your Facebook page? And I know the number of people who know and care about your story is much larger. I have friends around the country who know about you and ask me how you are doing and pray for you. There are THOUSANDS of people around the country and around the world who think about you and pray for you and are cheering for you. Isn’t that something? Why do you suppose that is?

Well, yeah there’s the whole interwebs thing, but bigger than that. Why are there literally thousands of people, many of them strangers (unless you know waaaayyy more people than anyone else I know) who know your story?

I have some ideas.

1. You’re a good kid. By all accounts, from my daughter, Annie’s, first encounter with you freshman year — to all the stories I have read in the past six months. You are regarded to be as nice, as kind, and as enthusiastic as your reputation would have us believe. The real deal! When nice people get hurt, other nice people and even not-so-nice people, wish them well and pray to whatever god they believe in for healing. You are young. People want young people to have long, happy lives. I haven’t met you but I can see there is a vibrancy to you that the world needs.

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that's Trina because she doesn't look much older than her girls.)

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that’s Trina because she doesn’t look much older than her girls.)

2. Moms. I know there are dads following your progress and praying for you but I am a mom and I will speak to the Mom part of this equation.

Katie's dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed "I love you".  Dad's rock.

Katie’s dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed “I love you”. Dad’s rock.

From the moment a mother knows her baby is on the way, she is protecting it. Taking folic acid and eating right and exercising (unless you’re me and then you eat tater tots and ice cream and grow to the size of an NFL lineman). We read to our babies inside us. We plan rooms and buy the right cribs, buy darling little outfits and blankets and little hats to keep the little baby head warm. We make sure the car seat is installed correctly and the baby faces backwards for a year. Katie, moms make sure the house is baby-proofed, that our little people wear bike helmets, and walk on the sidewalk, we practice letters and numbers with our tiny scholars, and make lunches and beds, and apply sunscreen.

Mothers do every single thing we can think of to keep our children safe from bruised knees, broken arms, broken hearts. Unfortunately we can’t control everything and we aren’t meant to. The goal of all this tending to our children is so that they will eventually grow up and take care of themselves. Slowly, children gain more and more independence, from putting their shoes on by themselves, to making their own toast, to walking to school, reading alone, the list goes on and on. We have to let you go out into the world and roll the dice.

And sometimes when you go out into the world horrible things happen.

Katie, this is why there are so many people praying for you and thinking about you daily. Because you are all of our children. There isn’t a mother worth her weight in varicose veins, who doesn’t realize it could have been our child in the accident. You have become a daughter to all of us. Especially to us moms who have teenage daughters, you are the beautiful girl that owns our hearts, who we have to set free.

And your mom is all of us.  We have all cried for your mother, not knowing anything else to do. We know the fear that goes with injury to one of our cubs. Moms can make all the casseroles in the world but that can’t fix an injured child or replace the ferocious love we have for our children. We all feel for your mother and we all thank God everyday that we don’t have to be as strong as she is. And we all know the strength it takes to keep all the balls in the air, the hospital, the house, the doctors, on and on. And there is your sister and your dad, and the mom has to take care of everyone she loves. It’s a big job and we are all so proud of Trina.

lenin mom

3. Renewal. Life is rough. There is so much bad news every damn day. Plane crashes and tornadoes, politics and business, it can all be so overwhelming.  In the midst of the 24-hour news cycle madness, life can still get through to us. At the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways, life brings renewal and hope and awareness of a much larger picture. The spiritual journey that we have traveled with you through a Facebook page has been uplifting and uniting. I’m Catholic and have a deep faith but as a Catholic, I’m not much of a bible reader. If I need to know it, it’s probably in the missal 🙂 I have read some beautiful passages from the Bible on your Facebook page, most I have never read before. Those passages have lifted my spirit, as I hope they have lifted yours.

Your life these past almost six months has inspired thousands to remember what is really important during our time in this world, that can all too often be much too short. You, Miss Katie, are a miracle. Not just for being on this planet today and walking (!) into school today but because you have shown thousands of people what true character and might look like. You have reminded us to love our children and our parents.

I hope to meet you and your family soon. You have all had a great impact on me, on my parenting and on my faith.

In advance, please excuse me if I completely fall apart when I finally lay eyes on you. I’m like that.

Happy Friday Miss Katie!




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A Miraculous Good Friday to You!

Ten years ago on Good Friday my dad was dying. Not like, he was sick and frail and was going to die soon. Dying. Multiple organ failure and that Friday his kidneys were beginning to fail. Renal failure generally means you aren’t long for this world. He had been ill for weeks. My parents came home early from Palm Springs, a trip he never had any memory of. When they returned to Portland they went to St. Vincent’s hospital for testing and then home and then back to the hospital for close to two weeks and that was when the organ failure from congestive heart failure almost got him.

I was married to Mitch then, stay-at-home mom and the girls were 4 and 6. I remember Matea, the cleaning lady (who was only in her 20s at the time) was working. My father “discovered” her. She called him “Sir”, even when referring to him. “How is Sir?” instead of “How is your father?” Matea has a thriving business today and I will say that is in no small part due to my father’s efforts to spread the word about how great she is. Anyway, Matea was at the house, all 4’10” of her and she said, “I so sorry Maggie” and I fell apart and cried all over her.

Good Friday is a horribly sad day. This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, I teared up as I do every year at the reading of the Passion.

‘My Father,’ he said, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.’

That line gets me every time. Jesus was human and he knew what was coming and reeeaaallly did not want to do it.  The story is so awful. A good man was taunted, tortured, and murdered. He was abandoned by those He trusted. What a dark and empty day. And that is how I felt, that day in 2004. So sad and scared.

I have a strong faith and I have never asked “God, why are you doing this?” When the shit comes down, I’m not blaming God,  I’m praying for God’s support and when necessary just letting Him handle it because I can’t. This is the season of miracles and back in 2004, the miracle came in the form of Dr. H. Dr. H was a friend of my dad’s and also the Chief of Internal Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital. And he had one more thing to throw into the mix and if that didn’t work, we would have to say goodbye to my Dad and I knew none of us were ready for that.

And on the third day he rose again. “He”, in this case, being my father. On Easter Sunday, the nuclear antibiotic that was being IV’d into my dad began working and brought him back! Miracles don’t have to be supernatural, sometimes miracles are trained professionals and modern medicine. Sometimes miracles are foster parents or paramedics. Sometimes miracles are good Samaritans or teachers or friends or dogs or technology. And I always thank God whenever a miracle happens.


In other Holy Week news. Derwood is being confirmed into the Church tomorrow night. That amazes me. I certainly didn’t ask him to convert, this is something he has been thinking about long before he met me and this is the year he’s doing it. I can’t imagine picking a religion and putting it on. To me, it is a true leap of faith. And when you throw Catholicism into the mix, dear God!

The Catholic Church is a mess just as any huge bureaucracy is a mess and I have been appalled at the priest sex abuse scandal, the coverup, the greed, etc of the humans who run the organization that is the Catholic Church but it has never affected my faith. I love Catholicism because you always have the chance to start over. Every single day. I don’t find the Church to be one of hellfire and damnation but one of forgiveness. No matter how far gone you may feel, you can always start over again. There is always that opportunity to live a little longer, a little better, a little happier.

We had my dad with us for another year and a half. That was a miracle.

Derwood is taking on the mystery of faith tomorrow night and that to me is a miracle. I am so proud and so in awe of his decision. And he will have his new beginning, which I’m sure will rub off on this ol’ cradle Catholic and give me a new perspective and interest in my faith and religion.

Happy Easter. I hope the renewal and miracle of Easter stays with you throughout the year.


Just two Catholics just takin' a selfie.

Two Catholics just takin’ a selfie.


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The Miracle of Elephant Eating

How do you eat an elephant?

You know, because an elephant is really, really big and could weigh up to 12,000 lbs, so it would be really tough to plan an eating strategery. I doubt anyone would want to eat a real live elephant so let’s instead ask, “how do you eat a 12,000 pound elephant cookie?’ Let’s say, you are a 120 lb girl and you want to eat a 12,000 pound elephant cookie, a cookie that weighs 100 times what you do. That’s a big job. How do you tackle something so daunting?

Photo courtesy Pinterest.

Prettiest Elephant Cookie Ever. Photo courtesy Pinterest.

The answer: one bite at a time.

That question has been the theme of Katie’s recovery. Katie, my daughter’s friend, who was in a serious car accident the night of November 15. Please see here and here.  Katie is in the process of eating the elephant cookie, of recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

Because I am old and jaded and have seen enough, I get very nervous when there are no Katie updates. The silence scares me. The first update was that Katie was being put into a medically-induced coma to help with the swelling in her brain. What concerned me was what wasn’t being said. Every time I expressed the slightest doubt or concern, Annie (my daughter) would tell me “She’s going to be fine. Why are you looking on the dark side?” OK. I will continue to think good thoughts and have faith that Miss Katie will recover.

She had surgery on her pelvis and bladder. She had a feeding tube put in and a tracheotomy so she could breath without an apparatus on her face.  Bite, bite, chew, chew, bite and bite.  There goes a bit off the elephant cookie’s ear.

Everyone continues praying and thinking good thoughts and sending positive energy, wrapping Katie and her sister and parents in love and support. Katie is taken off the coma-inducing meds but stays in a coma of her own making. Her brain is in charge now and it has decided that her energy must be focused inward so she will be staying inside for the time being.

Katie moved her fingers. Not a lot but she did.

Katie opened her eyes. She did not awake, but she opens her eyes.

Chomp, Chomp….

Katie is moved from the Trauma ICU floor to the Trauma floor of the hospital.


The next benchmark is for Katie’s eyes to track. I suppose that means to follow movement. I think she has begun to do that.

Then yesterday there came this update:

Katie has taken another bite of the elephant! Yesterday, Katie gave us a gift! Her father was doing PT on Katie’s legs and she was looking right at him. He gave Katie the “I Love You” hand sign that he has given her nightly since she was a baby. Katie lifted her right hand and returned the “I Love You” sign! We haven’t seen anything else from Katie since yesterday, but SHE IS IN THERE!
Katie is still in a coma, but she continues to take small steps forward in her recovery marathon. We are asking for prayers for Katie’s nose to clear so she can continue to breathe with ease. Please pray to help her brain continue to heal. Katie is making baby steps toward tracking with her eyes and we are patiently hopeful that Katie will start following simple commands. Pray for Katie to awaken from her coma.

This is the season of hustle and bustle and shopping and cooking and partying. I remember when I used to have Christmas lists that were as long as my arm but as I have aged and had kids, I can’t think of anything that I want for Christmas. I know that is a hassle for people who ask me what I want but anything or nothing is fine with me, I don’t need a thing.  With all the bustle of the season, it is easy to forget that for many Christmas time is the season of miracles.  On December 25, those who believe celebrate a miracle. A miraculous gift of life and love in the birth of Jesus Christ. But there are miracles every day. Some as small as the twitch of a finger and others as large as the movement of a hand. Miracles.

I can’t imagine being Katie’s dad yesterday. I would imagine that December 10, 2013 is the best day of his life probably even better than the day Katie was born because she let him know she’s in there!!! She is not lost. What a gift. What a miracle. What a heartwarming, heartfilling reminder of what is most important in this life.

And because it is one of my most favorite Christmas minutes.

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Whatever “It” Is, Do It!

Last week I read an article that Valerie Harper, Rhoda from my all time favorite show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. She could have a seizure and die tomorrow. She could live a few months or a few years, she and her doctor don’t know. They do know that right now there is no cure for this cancer of the membrane surrounding the brain.

Look how pretty Rhoda is! Big brown eyes, I loved her.

Look how pretty Rhoda is! Big brown eyes, I loved her.

Unfortunately, most people sooner associated me with Rhoda's mom.

Unfortunately, most people sooner associated me with Rhoda’s mom.

That news got me to thinking, what would I do? What do you do with a three-months-to-live diagnosis?

Then on Friday, I got this email from my Muffincake pal Kitty:

My father was hit by a Baltimore City bus this AM on his way to a dentist appointment. He is in emergency surgery in the shock trauma unit of Univ of MD. He has a broken pelvis, ribs, leg and forehead. His left leg was deskinned. He should be out of surgery in a few hours then into ICU. He will be in the hospital for a few weeks.

Kitty’s dad was a perfectly fit 81-year-old man who played tennis a couple of times a week and was planning to spend a month in Italy with his wife this spring until he was hit by a bus Friday morning. Just walking to a dentist appointment. One step different, one more turn of the head, a different parking space…and life would be different today.

As it is, he has already gone through two surgeries and everyone is praying he is stable enough for another one this week. He has been given more than 15 units of blood. He has broken every bone in his face. There has been internal bleeding. He may lose his leg. He’s in a medically-induced coma which they bring him out of regularly to make sure he is not suffering any neurological damage which thanks be to God, he is not. His three kids are there in the hospital with him. Kitty’s mom, the love of his life and wife of 50+ years, is there with him.

Kitty's Dad and Mom

Kitty’s Dad and Mom

I haven’t seen Kitty’s dad in years but back in college, I went on vacation with her family. I had Easter and Thanksgiving with them. I have seen him at different events through the years. Kitty’s dad is a gentleman. Like the kind of gentleman they don’t make anymore. He is a self-made man. He is mellow, urbane, intelligent, athletic, well-read and well-educated. He has a sharp wit which catches you when you least expect it. He is a measured man who doesn’t, or at least rarely, gets angry…instead he solves the problem. He has always been one of my favorite friend dads. Kitty is her father’s daughter. And she is one of my best friends. This is devastating. Shocking. Traumatic. Baffling. What? How can this be?

So, no one is getting out of here alive. Here are two stories of lives well-lived and now those lives are in jeopardy. What do you think?

It makes me think that you never know when the piano is going to fall out of the sky, so whatever it is you want to do, need to do…what are you waiting for?

My mother died at 68 and I learned then, life is short — don’t delay! Stop making excuses for why you can’t do something, for why something won’t work or why it might work some day. Right now today is the day, the time to tell someone, everyone, anyone that you love them. Tell a friend that they hurt your feelings (thank you Trisha). Apologize, you don’t need to wait a day or two…if you know you’re wrong, just say you’re sorry right now.
You can’t afford to get married? Don’t have a wedding, just get married if that’s what you want. You need to get divorced but continue thinking, “things will get better”. If you know in your gut what you should do, do it.

I wish I had a dog (I have a dog but let’s say someone wishes they had a dog.) Go get a dog! There are thousands of cats and dogs waiting for someone to bring them home and give them a home where they are loved and fed and cared for. Get a dogwalker, get two cats so they will have a pal. Whatever you have to offer is better than living on death row or in a shelter.


Lose weight (Maggie, I’m looking at me). Go for a walk. Move. Don’t eat that wheel of brie. You have control over whether you do these things or not.

Read War and Peace (I mean if that’s what you want to do, I can’t help it if you are a masochist). Go to the movies. Make a movie, you have a phone don’t you? Paint a picture, write a song or a poem or a blog, sculpt a sculpture.

Help someone, volunteer, point out the spinach in the stranger’s tooth. Be understanding when you could be angry. Laugh. Surprise yourself. Surprise someone else.

Be who you are, whoever that is. Don’t hide. Live honestly. Tell the truth, then you will never have to remember what you said (Mark Twain, I think).

Get a job. Quit a job. Find what you love to do and try to get paid for it.

Travel, even if it’s just diverting onto a road you have never been on.

Remind yourself that you are never too young (unless by law you are) and you are never too old.

And not least of all things, realize the beauty of the greater world, of the universe, of the heavens. Recognize that all of this is bigger than yourself.

Pray. Please pray for my friend’s Dad. All the skills and all the training of nurses and doctors; and all the drugs and machinery in hospitals are sometimes not enough. Please pray, to who or whatever you pray to, that Kitty’s Dad gets a miracle.

(Kitty’s dad pulled off his own miracle yesterday getting me to Mass at 7:30 in the morning…anything is possible…there is no need to wait).

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