Sunday, November 10, 2013

Oh Holy Night

Loved Ones,

I know it's not Christmas but it's coming soon.  This weekend I am not sure if it is the cold air, the Starbucks red cups, or the Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas Movies, but we turned on the Christmas music.

My favorite Christmas song I think of all time is "Oh Holy Night."

On my computer I have a copy of an instrumental version done by a New Orleans Jazz Group shortly after the Hurricane.  We saw in on TV and Ray found the version for me because I loved it.  I am techno-challenged and when Ray was sick another friend came and put that version on my computer.

I love it.  I think of Ray and I think of overcoming.

Another dear friend of mine lost her husband to cancer this summer.  We had reflected on that song last year.  I was caught by the "weary world rejoices..."  She by "A thrill of hope..."

Which are you this year?  As we enter the holiday season I'm not sure.

I am grateful for a God who holds our weariness in his hand and gives us reason to hope.

This Christmas season I pray for more hope than weariness.  I pray that like the City of New Orleans, we are able to overcome.

not alone and not afraid -


"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.  Fall on your knees.  Oh hear the angel voices.  Oh night divine.  Oh night when Christ was born."  Oh Holy Night

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ray Birthday Part Two

Loved Ones,

Thanks for your emails and posts on this special day.

This morning I was listening to the Rent soundtrack's "Seasons of Love."  It was such a poignant song on this day, asking the question how do you measure the life of a man?

The song's answer, in seasons of love was running through my mind this whole day.

I watched that love play soccer this morning.

I ate lunch with that love this afternoon.

I rode bikes with that love this evening.

Nora, Maggie and Lucy, your legacies of love will carry you with them always.  When their eyes sparkle, when they give that easy grin, when they choose not to make a fuss over something small or large.

That legacy of un-measurable love will live in my heart always. In the hearts of your sisters.  In the hearts of your daughters.  In the hearts of your friends, of your family.

We miss you, we honor you, above all, we love and remember you on this day.

not alone and not afraid --


Happy Birthday Ray!

Loved Ones,

Today is Ray's 42nd Birthday.  We celebrated with Ray's family last night, going to a special mass and eating dinner at a restaurant together.

Five years ago we celebrated with Ray.  We did a surprise party that year he was sick, inviting all of his friends to celebrate with him.

It's hard to believe that January will mark five years without him.

When I am with his family, Ray is all around us.  No one is more like him than his family.  The lightness of spirit, the love and care, are the way Ray marked the world.  I always feel a special "home" when I am with them.

But the truth is that Ray continues to mark the world.

I was reflecting a few weeks ago on the path that our family has taken.  As I have said many times -- no one chooses this path, it is not what you expect for your life, it is not what Ray expected from his.

However, I am often reminded of the homily where our pastor said that the translation of "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" is not light but well fitting.  Well fitting.

Could it be that there are some people who live life in such a meaningful way that they can be remembered far after they are gone, continuing to mark our lives with their legacy??

Ray's nephew and Godson Patrick interned in Washington D.C. this summer in Ray's old office.  He walked in Ray's footsteps, working for his boss, with his colleagues.  While Patrick was there I was working on a letter about stomach cancer, asking the Illinois Congressional Delegation to sign on in support, in memory of Ray.

Five years is a long time, it's light years in politics and many of the old offices that actually worked with Ray are gone.  New Members, new staff.

But the memory of Ray is not gone.  As I know Patrick will attest, Ray's legacy is large.

Every single Member of the Illinois Delegation signed that letter.  Every one.  Every new office.  Every old office.  From every point in the political spectrum.

At the Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship last month, the room was filled.  Filled with students, teachers, the Taylor University President.  People who were listening to a message they would not have heard, if it had not been for Ray.  If it had not been for Ray's example of love, his example of faith.

Oh that Ray had the opportunity to live the life that we all dream of, where we grow old, where we have the chance to do all the things we hoped to do.

But Ray's life lives on.

The people he touched will not forget.

The legacy that he lived, the beauty of his life, it just doesn't end.

Oh I am so grateful to all that remember Ray on this day.  Those that help to carry his legacy.  Those that tell the story of his life and the story of his death.

Ray, your legacy is well fitting.

Happy Birthday.

not alone and not afraid --


"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 29-30

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thinking of Ray

Loved Ones,

Ray has been on our minds this week in many special ways.

On Tuesday we journeyed to Taylor University for the third annual Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship.  At the Lectureship, Dr. David Bjork spoke to the partnership of the Evangelical and Catholic Churches in making disciples of Christ.  It was a meaningful and inspiring evening.  Dr. Bjork, who knew Ray and I when we lived in D.C., was a fantastic speaker for the event.  We are very excited at the progress that was made in educating Taylor students and others about the Catholic Church and our mission of encouraging partnerships.

Just last night the girls and I went to the White Sox game in Ray's honor, a gift of the Family Lives on Foundation.  Last year we were connected with this neat group that helps families celebrate the birthday of their loved one, doing something special that they did together.  My girls were interviewed and they told about Nora's trip to the White Sox game with Ray, along with times that they watched the Incredibles together and ate Sour Patch Kids.

A week ago a package arrived for us with White Sox tickets, sour patch kids and an Incredibles ornament.

And so we set off to the White Sox game with Ray in our hearts.

I wondered what the night would hold?  Beyond our memories and thoughts, would we feel a connection to Ray in a special way?

We headed out from soccer with just enough time to make it to the game.  When we arrived, we went about the process of selecting our brats and popcorn and finding our seats.  Just as we sat down, the White Sox hit a homerun and fireworks went off.  I wasn't quite able to concentrate as the girls were still settling in, but the Sox immediately hit ANOTHER homerun and we all watched the beautiful fireworks.

After a bit of time, we got up to get some sweet treats and then returned to our seats.  Again, immediately as we sat down, the Sox hit a homerun, followed by fireworks.

I do not know the nature of angels and what they can do to keep us safe and assure us of their love and presence.

But I do know this.  If it was within his power, our White Sox loving angel would do everything he could to assure us of his loving presence and further, ensure that his girls continued to be White Sox fans, by setting off fireworks and being sure that his girls enjoyed their game, while thinking of him.

We got your message Ray!

not alone and not afraid,


"And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things." 2 Peter 1:14-16

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of School

Loved Ones,

It's the end of an era today.  For much of the last 11 years I have had a child at my side.  The last few with Lucy who my friends called a little monkey I would swing up on my hip.

Today all my girls go to school all day.

I'm one of those moms that hates this day!  For all the moms at the bus stop who cheer, I am the one with tears.

Last night I cleaned and packed lunches and straightened and set out clothes and set alarms and when I finally dropped in bed I felt sadness.  I didn't want to take the next step!

It reminds me of when I took Nora to day care for the very first time.  I prepared and labeled all of her stuff and got through those first three days to decide that I hated it!  I hated leaving my child!  I did it long enough to be sure that I wanted to quit and then I embraced mommy-hood.

What a joy and a privilege to be a mom.  To be entrusted with those lives, those souls, those spirits.

My beautiful girls are growing up so quickly.  Of course they are ready!  The last days of the "Mommy/Lucy club" are over, and all three are so excited for their wonderful teachers -- happiness all around.

Still.  Like so many times in my life, I wish I could turn back the clock.  I am grateful for each day I enjoyed with each girl.  I am grateful for the chance to celebrate and navigate the challenges and the joys of each stage and each day.  I wouldn't trade it and I'll always cherish it.

I am very grateful for the fact that I planned for this day and as my kids took steps forward I did too!

But I will always miss them at my side.

Happy fall.  Happy back to school.

not alone and not afraid --


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

Loved Ones,

I hate it that it's been so long since I updated the blog!

So much has happened, the girls continue to grow and grow!  They are beautiful soccer players and students.  It is a joy to watch them grow.  I am so proud of them.

And they are proud of their mom!  This spring I was elected to the School Board in Naperville.  The girls were tireless campaigners and we are all excited for this new chapter.

We continue to remember Ray!  This spring so many events have commemorated Ray's life and legacy.

Most recently, we went to Washington D.C. for the Ray Fitzgerald Charity Classic Softball Tournament hosted by the Illinois Congressional Delegation.  It was a great day -- around 95 people attended and we had fun playing softball and raising money for cancer research.  Ray would have loved that day!

The Monday afterward, the girls and I participated in the first ever Stomach Cancer Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill!  28 stomach cancer patients and families participated in this event -- all together we met with 57 offices and we are working to send a letter to the National Cancer Institute to ask for more research for stomach cancer.  This was a rewarding day.  Since Ray died, I have been working to transmit the message that this deadly cancer is growing in young people.  Nothing more effectively communicates that message than the young people themselves going to Congress and telling their stories.

In April, we went to Taylor for the Second Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship, where I gave the keynote speech, continuing to lay the foundation for Evangelical and Catholic partnerships to serve the world.  We had great student participation and we are all looking forward to the third event, scheduled for September 24!

Also in April, the girls and I went to Brother Rice High School, Ray's alma mater, to throw out the first pitch for a varsity baseball game.  That was also a moving day - we were touched by the baseball players and coaching staff who honored Ray in this way. 

I continue to be asked to tell Ray's story and witness to the way that God continues to take care of our family.  And I continue to be grateful for God's hand in this way.

It's Father's Day so we always miss Ray on this day.  Our neighborhood hosts a little fishing tournament for Dads and kids.  We participated in this tournament a few times when the girls were little -- how we all wish that Ray was still here to fish with the girls.  They would no doubt be competitively working to win the tournament with a large number of fish.

We are grateful for our family.  In so many ways they help us to manage all of the tasks of a super busy family with only one parent present.  Ray would be grateful we know and I am grateful for their help.

We think of Ray on this day and our prayer is that he knows how much we still remember and celebrate him always.  We are all blessed from the years that he was here to be a Father to the girls and a loving husband to me.  We wish it was longer!  But we are changed from his presence and we are grateful for the time we had.

not alone and not afraid --


"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 21, 2013 -- Four Years

Loved Ones,

Today was the fourth anniversary of Ray's death.  Like the Olympics, the Inaugeration provides a snapshot of our life in four year increments.  12 years ago we had just gotten married and went to the Illinois Inaugeral Gala.  8 years ago I was pregnant with Maggie and we went to the Inaugeral Gala.  Four years ago, it was the day before Ray died.  And today, his four year anniversary.

The normalcy of the first two followed by the unthinkable nature of the third, and then today.

We never know the road our life will take.  And thank goodness for that sometimes.

Our road today is marked with friends.  You are them.  And while we would never choose this road, we are glad for your presence on it.  We are grateful for God's blessing and faithfulness to us even on this road.  And we are grateful to you for your tremendous love and support over the last four years.

We reflect on Ray's life today with JOY for the impact he made on the world while he was here and for the fact that the mark he made continues to be a legacy today.  We are grateful to you who hold up Ray's legacy.  Each person who mentions him, who does something in his memory, who honors him, we treasure those things in our hearts.

Ray, we remember you today!  We will never forget you!  And we will always be grateful for your life with us here on earth!

not alone and not afraid --


"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19