Key Takeaway: The late Caitlyn Lucas, or Courageous Caitie, and her family showed us what death truly is: It is neither a monster nor the end, but a celebration of our loved one’s reunion with God in heaven, and their marriage to Christ.
I don’t personally know Caitlyn Soleil D. Lucas, a.k.a. Courageous Caitie, or her family (although we have mutual friends).
But I know courage, faith, and love, which among others Caitie represents.
I first came upon Caitie’s story on her GoFund page in early March. At that time, her sickness was not yet identified – it was soon diagnosed in Singapore as Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML), a very rare leukemia, or blood cancer, that affects about 3 in a million children 4 and under. This is quite a serious sickness, but what struck me – and many others – was how Caitie herself managed it.
To begin with, any child – or person! – who’s really sick would, understandably, be in a lot of pain and thus be miserable or sleep it off. Not Caitie. She did suffer a lot, but from what I heard, she rarely cried or let it affect her, and she spent her time playing or learning. As if nothing was eating her up slowly from the inside.
And she fully trusted in her parents and the doctors – the avenues that her Lord and Savior sent her way – and obeyed God through them. She knew it would be difficult, but not only did she willingly submit to the test (figuratively and literally), she did it with such optimism and hope that you’d think she’d been offered the trip of her lifetime to the toy store.
Sadly, God must have decided that it was for the best to take back Caitie, to have her glorify heaven and him at his side, and so before noon on Thursday, 31 March, Caitie said “Mom I love you” one last time, and breathed her last earthly breath. She was three years and seven months old. She’s now breathing the air of true and eternal life in heaven.
Throughout her physical and spiritual journey, which is documented on, among others, a Facebook page run by her parents, one cannot help but admire Caitie for truly being a blessed, radiant child of God (her two names mean “Blessed Sun”). The trust she put, concretely translated into bravery with a smile, and hope in living, was more than enough to bring many (back) to Christ. She was an apostle in her own way.
We also can’t help but admire her parents, Jayjay and Feliz, who bore the burden the heaviest of all, sacrificing so much for her sake, and still managing to, like Caitie, be happy and enjoy the good things in life (which, I’m sure, is what Caitie would want). The courage they equally displayed manifested itself most wonderfully and beautifully yesterday, and it is living proof of our ability to Make the Most out of any situation, good or bad.
In a most heartwarming twist, Caitie’s funeral was transformed into a weekend gala celebrating her life. Her wake on Saturday was a pink, princess party that was her debut – the debut she would never have on earth. But, most fittingly, her debut was a début to our true home, heaven, as she was presented to the Lord right in time for her next celebration: her marriage to Christ.
Yesterday, with her cremation as the centerpiece, Caitie was the bride at a wedding to Jesus, complete with formal wedding attire for all and the guest pastor’s sermon about marriage. Her procession to the crematorium was a wedding march, escorted by Storm Troopers (her favorite) and given away down the (red carpet) aisle by her parents, to the tune of “Beauty and the Beast”. Oh, and part two of the wake, with the urn, was a wedding reception.
In the photo above, which is from Caitie’s Facebook page, we can see her parents joyfully walking down the aisle to prepare for the bride’s entrance. Among all the photos (and there are a lot), this is one of the ones that moves me the most. My mother always said that it is most unfortunate for parents to bury their children, but in yesterday’s celebration, Mr. and Mrs. Lucas were the happy parents of the bride. On their way to a cremation, no less! It takes extraordinary courage and FAITH to do that.
“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” -Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)
And, really, why should it be extraordinary? The truth of the matter is that death is not the end. It is a transition, a graduation if you will, to true life. The training that is earthly life, training for eternal life with God, is completed – and that should be cause for joyful celebration (though it shouldn’t by any means be cut short). Caitie, her family, and her fans know this by heart – and that is ultimate wisdom.
One of my homeroom teachers in grade school always said that she does not want weeping when she dies, only joy. Her funeral would be followed by a celebratory party – not unlike Caitie’s. These people are, like Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, true Masters of Death: They recognize that we will all die one day, but that it is 1) simply a transition to something infinitely greater; and 2) ultimately something to be happy about.
This happiness is the joy in knowing that our loved ones who have gone ahead of us are reunited with God in heaven, a state of true, lasting goodness. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and we will all be married to each other in heaven. Caitie (who most wisely always said that Jesus loves us the most) and her family were most eager to tell the world of this love of God, with very beautiful results.
Of course, just as we feel very sad when a loved one, say, moves to another country, we will feel great sorrow when a loved one dies. But the Lucas family knows well what Jesus and the Bible say: Sorrow will only be temporary. Joy will eventually replace it. And as the story of Courageous Caitie shows, purpose and love are not beaten, but in fact are strengthened, by passing, and it is a very touching reminder to us to keep on living lives of love, for love.
(Read more: Higher purpose: Love beyond passing)
Have a blessed and purposeful week!