At the end of February this year, I was drawn to the faith journey of a little 3-year-old Filipino girl Caitlin Soleil Lucas, also popularly known as “Courageous Caitie”. I first learned of her and her family when I read an article about her online. Caitie had been warded for two months in a hospital in Manila, but the doctors could not arrive at a diagnosis for her condition despite life-threatening symptoms like low platelet count, high count of white blood cells and an enlarged spleen. Her mother kept a blog tracking Caitie’s progress, and I was most amazed as I followed her mother on this journey, how she trusted God all the way and surrendered her daughter to God, believing every step of the way that He would heal her daughter. I was also inspired by this little girl who was so brave in the midst of her darkness, how she held up so well in spite of all the tests and pain she had to go through. I, too, have a 3-year-old daughter and I could not imagine the pain the parents must be going through to see their daughter suffer like that.
I started following the Lucases on their Facebook page “Courageous Caitie”, and together with the family, I prayed almost daily for her healing and progress. I was excited at the thought that they were coming to Singapore for treatment, as recommended by their paediatrician in Manila. When they finally got a diagnosis, it was a rude shock for them: Caitie had Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML), a rare form of leukemia that happens to young children. I could imagine their world coming apart, but yet they still chose to trust in God, making the best of each day with and for Caitie.
I, too, had hope for that little girl’s healing, and I continued to pray for her daily together with my 3-year-old girl. I envisioned Caitie healed, whole and being a great testimony for God. A few days after she started her oral chemotherapy treatment, I learned that she was warded in ICU. Our household kept praying and kept believing, until the fateful day she passed away from a lung infection. My heart broke and I spent my whole day weeping over a life ended too soon.
I questioned God several times in this journey—”how could You allow her parents to watch her go through all this?” As a mother myself, this pain was almost impossible to bear, but the Lord spoke to me, “Because I saw My son go through that same suffering.” I then realised that God truly sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, and He fully understands all the pain we are going through, even as parents. I watched the Lucas family choose to surrender to God in their darkest times, even when Caitie left them for her heavenly home. That was awfully painful, yet so beautiful at the same time.
One thing that struck me was how Caitie’s mother, Feliz Lucas, talked about Jesus to Caitie. At a young age, Caitie had already accepted Jesus into her heart. She knew that Jesus was healing her, and that Jesus loved her “more than most”. How Feliz shared Christ to Caitie at such a young age amazed me. As a mother myself, I must say that I have fallen short in this area, and I now know how important it is, beyond the natural skills and abilities, to prepare our children to know God.
Caitie’s passing left an impact on hundreds of thousands of people. It was ironic how her name spread far and wide after her passing, but more than her name, I saw the name of Christ magnified through a 3-year-old girl. It blew my mind. That night when Caitie passed on, God impressed a verse upon me, “To live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil 1:21), and I saw this little girl how had lived out this verse fully. How she trusted Jesus and her parents in her entire cancer journey, how Jesus is glorified in her life – her life was indeed short but beautiful. Because of her, I started to think a lot more about Jesus, heaven and eternity.
A timely reminder for me in this parenthesis is that parenthood is not just preparing our children for life on the earth. It’s not simply about giving them a better education, a more comfortable life, a bigger house, but it is about preparing them for Jesus and eternity. I was awakened to the things that truly matter in my life: more than the outward comfort and material we as parents provide, what’s most important is Christ and love in our household. We could live with less but yet have more. From that night on, I resolved in my heart to focus on the intangible, to hug my girl every day and say “I love you”, and to tell her “Daddy and Mommy love you, but Jesus loves you the most”.