03 Apr An Open Letter to Courageous Caitie and her Courageous Parents
You have no idea how many lives you’ve touched in the short span of three years and seven months. From the moment your parents named you Caitlin Soleil—pure sunshine—to the time your light shone the brightest during your battle with the rare juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), you’ve become a beacon of hope and an inspiration to a lot of people.
I never had the chance to meet you in person but I’ve seen a glimpse of you through your mom Tine (Feliz). I saw her during a wedding of a common friend (your Tito JC and Tita Kat) almost four years ago. She was pregnant with you and she looked so beautiful and radiant. Now I know why. She was carrying pure sunshine inside her. 🙂
Your dad (Jay Jay) posted a lot of your pictures when you were born. Your parents have an incredible eye for beauty and probably the most beautiful event they’ve ever covered was your life. They chronicled your milestones so beautifully with stunning photos and adorable videos.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve known your papa and mama from church along with your Uncle Jeff and Auntin. Although our interactions were limited to casual hi’s and hello’s, we served Jesus—yes the One who loves you more than most—in the same youth ministry. 🙂 Nothing’s changed, Caitie. They were faithful then, they are faithful still.
You most likely don’t know this but we’ve prayed for you many times even before you were diagnosed with leukemia. Your dad and mom would share on Facebook when something was ailing you or when you got confined. They would ask for prayers and we were one of the many families that have prayed for you over the years.
As first-time parents, your dad and mom bravely faced your first hospitalization and all the subsequent ones after that. Whatever courage you developed the past three years must’ve been a reflection of the courage and faith your mom and dad have shown you. 🙂
Little did we know that Jesus was already preparing you in those little battles. He was getting you geared up for the biggest battle you would ever face in your life—leukemia. Your entire journey with this sickness was full of uncertainty. For the longest time no one knew what was causing your insect bites turned bruises. For months no one knew why your spleen was getting bigger.
In the midst of searching for an answer, you submitted yourself willingly to tests, insertions, surgical procedures—all without complaint and rarely a tear in your eye. Your threshold for pain was so high and your unwavering faith in Jesus was so strong that you made all of us believe in miracles and in the impossible.
You were obedient to the very end. You were just like Jesus as described in Philippians 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!” You never doubted nor questioned all the medical procedures you had to go through. You knew the meaning of surrender even at such a young age.
You fixed your eyes on the prize—no matter how small or big it was—may it be that one bottle of Yakult, that trip back to Baguio, or the complete healing we’ve all been praying for. Most importantly, you fixed your eyes on Jesus, the one who promised to heal you. You even said repeatedly in one video that you believe that Jesus would heal you and you said it with a smile. You waited expectantly and joyfully in the midst of pain and uncertainty.
Your childlike faith made ripples all around the world, Caitie. When I wrote a piece for you around the third week of February while you were on your way to Singapore, you only had over 4,000 followers on Facebook. Right now, it’s almost 250,000! Imagine that! Much like the sun that gives hope and promise of a brand new day, your sunshine has reached thousands of people. 🙂
You know why? Because you have the Light of the World—Jesus Christ—inside of you. He chose you to be a testimony of His love. He created you for a greater purpose. He wanted to show the world that in hopeless situations, people can continue trust the Lord and His goodness. You did. Your parents did.
When we found out that you passed away, my husband and I cried a lot. We were heartbroken just like the thousands of people who have treated you as part of their family. My 5-year-old son, who prays for you every day even before meals, was at a loss for words when he was leading our mealtime prayer that day.
He already knew that you went home to be with Jesus and he paused for a long time not knowing how to continue or what to pray for because you have always been part of our prayers. It was heartbreaking. He wrote a letter for you and gave the cross painting he made last Resurrection Sunday. What a fitting gift for your resurrected body in Heaven. We hope you liked it. 🙂 Don’t worry, Caitie, we, along with thousands of people, are covering your family in prayers.
Yesterday, we dropped by to say goodbye. Your “Pink Party” was not only a celebration of your life but also your legacy. Who would’ve thought that a toddler could leave a lasting impact and bring people closer to Jesus. Only our Almighty Father can accomplish something like that.
We can only imagine how beautiful your crown is right now. If you were a soldier here on earth, you would’ve received a medal of valor. But since you’re the soldier of the Savior, you most definitely received a crown of righteousness. 🙂
And with that, I want to address your papa and mama right now.
Jay Jay and Tine, the phrase “heroes of the faith” has a new meaning to me now. You have shown us your unwavering faith in the Lord. You have shown what true surrender to God’s will means. It’s not lip service, it’s a conscious decision of the heart and mind. Now I know why you have no regrets—not only have you done everything for Caitie but you have also surrendered everything to Jesus.
No words would ever be enough to express the pain and loss that you must be feeling right now. And yet, in the midst of grief, you’ve chosen to be grateful, to rejoice, and to use this pain for a purpose—to make Jesus known. You both invested on growing Caitie’s faith in God and it came full circle because her faith strengthened you during difficult times.
I remember a short chat conversation I had with you, Tine. You said that you were not asking why anymore. All you wanted was to hear Jesus every single day. You and Jay Jay chose to hang on to Jesus even if you didn’t understand what was going on. You both chose to believe in His goodness and the greatness of His love. You are both living heroes of the faith, pressing on to finish the race.
And although Caitie completed her mission way ahead of you, she couldn’t have done it without your love, guidance, and support. The Lord blessed her with devoted parents and He equally blessed you with a loving daughter and a sweet son. Your family is truly a reflection of the love of Jesus in more ways than one.
I read this verse yesterday morning and remembered you: Isaiah 61:3 “…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
We know that this promise stands true to you and your family. The mere fact that you’re celebrating her life is a testament that Jesus has already bestowed on you the crown of beauty, the oil of joy, and the garment of praise. 🙂 Today, you gave the hand of your lovely daughter in marriage to the Lover of her Soul, Jesus Christ. It’s the most beautiful send-off any parent could ever give. 🙂
Thank you for sharing the life of Caitie and your entire family to all of us. Thank you for inspiring us, giving us hope, and building up our faith. Thank you for reminding parents like us to cherish every moment we have with our children, to invest on what really matters, and to always put Jesus in the center of our families. Thank you for everything, Lucas family. 🙂
Much love and prayers,
Photo Credit: Courageous Caitie Facebook Page