Courageous Caitie’s Legacy

I have been scrolling through messages and posts about Courageous Caitie and it’s difficult to swallow the ending that today gave us. She passed away this morning after her platelet count dropped to 1 and her oxygen levels were critical.

When I found out, an hour later, on my way to the bathroom to take a break from my homeschooling, I was in shock. Maybe a part of me expected the worst given the recent updates on Caitie’s page. But a part of me also hoped for the miracle we all did, the chapter in her story we all prayed for – supernatural, physical healing.

Wouldn’t that have been a testimony?! Wouldn’t that have brought glory to the Lord, a triumph to give the watching world cause to believe that God answers the prayers of his children, especially those who love and follow Him?

I really hoped for this. I don’t think I had as much faith as Caitie’s mom did to believe that it could actually happen, but I certainly hoped it would. Several exchanges between Tine (Feliz) Lucas and myself through Viber brought more encouragement to me than my attempts at sending verses and warm messages did for her.

She always concluded our online conversations with a firm belief that God’s promises of healing in His Word were spoken just for Caitie. But I also know she felt like giving in to the fear and the doubt many times. Doctor Joy, Caitie’s pediatrician, and Tine’s sister, Jen, are friends of mine and they told me she wasn’t always feeling strong. They would ask for prayer support. And whenever possible, I sought updates from them, not wanting to bother Tine constantly because I knew she was dealing with a lot. Yet, even Tine’s vulnerability to those closest to her and the glimpses of it she revealed online sounded like strength to me. What mom could’ve survived the months she did, in the way she did? She is a hero to me. So is Jay Jay.

They became heroes to all of us. I don’t know if I could have posted updates and prayer requests as often as they thought to. But it was their faithful chronicles of Caitie’s journey that invited people to be a part of it. Somehow, even if Caitie’s condition baffled everyone because of its complexity and rarity, we all found something familiar in her life’s story that resonated with us.

As a mom, my heart ached and broke each time I saw Tine’s posts, especially the ones that desperately sought prayer. And the photos…oh, the photos! They were honest and tender, and sometimes too difficult to look at.

This afternoon, I find myself confronted with the reality of Caitie’s passing and there’s no way to dismiss it without considering the gravity of what just happened. Courageous Caitie, the little spirited girl whom thousands cheered on and supported through prayer, giving, fundraising, and writing about, breathed her last in the arms of her loving parents. She inspired the best in all of us as we saw her fight hard till the very end.

I sat around the table at lunch, shortly after I found out she died, my children’s laughter invading the grief in an almost assaulting way. They were teasing one another. I picked up Catalina who reached up to be held and put her on my lap. This looked too pretty a picture compared to the one I just saw – Jay Jay and Tine cradling Caitie’s still body.

 The tears began to fall. I wanted to appreciate that my children were living, breathing, and eating their lunch, but I also wanted to be alone for a while.

“Why are you crying, mom?” Elijah asked.

I excused myself from the table and hid in the guest room, leaving the kids to their bantering and teasing. Catalina followed me, of course. She always does. I hugged her tightly. Caitie wasn’t much older than she was.

Catalina traced the line of my tears and also asked, “Why are you crying?”

“Someone’s baby died.” This was the easiest way for me to explain it to her.

“Oh, someone died?” She looked concerned. If she only understood.

Someone died, Lord. Not just anyone, too. After all that fighting, why not the gift of a miracle? It feels like a cosmic let down to everyone who was looking on.

I struggled to grasp God’s plan in all of this, for Tine and Jay Jay’s sake, especially.

As they pack up Caitie’s belongings, thumb through her art work and homeschool work, and look on the empty bed where her form once was, I know it’s going to hurt like heck. I know they believe that God has a plan because they want to trust Him, but I also know that their memories will cling to images of Caitie and their hearts will long for her. They will feel the void and the loss like no one else will, and I can’t imagine what that will be like.

At a time like this, it may seem insensitive to mouth out bible passages, but I find that it is God’s very Word that fills in the space which Caitie’s death has left behind. Right now that space looks like a dark, empty hole into which faith might collapse. It’s easy to doubt the nature of God as loving, good, and sovereign when a parent loses their child.

A few months ago, I read Philip Yancey’s book called Why? The Question that Never Goes Away. He wrote, “From Jesus I learn that God is on the side of the sufferer. God entered the drama of human history as one of its characters, not with a display of omnipotence but in a most intimate and vulnerable way.”

He also quoted poet Christian Wiman who, in his meditation, My Bright Abyss, made this statement. “I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, My God, my God, why has though forsake me?…The point is that he felt human destitution to its absolute degree; the point is that God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.”

Yancey goes on to say, “Christ is God crying I am here. Because of Jesus, we have the assurance that whatever disturbs us, disturbs God more. Whatever grief we feel, God feels more. And whatever we long for, God longs for more.” (pg. 54 – 56)

God doesn’t always give us the miracle we hope for on this earth. But it isn’t because He doesn’t care. He sent His son, Jesus Christ to enter into our pain. The book of Isaiah described Christ as “despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; It was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:2-6)

Furthermore, our understanding of healing is limited to physical relief and restoration. These are earth-bound fixes. Yet God’s plan for healing finds its truest meaning in eternity. When Christ died and rose again, He conquered death. Therefore those who believe in Him will also conquer death.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immorality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immorality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Caitie loved Jesus. Even in her young age, she understood that He died for her sins and she gave her life to Him. She was courageous for Him. I have no doubts that Caitie is alive and well in heaven with the Lord. The miracle of her story was not that doctors cured her cancer but that Jesus gave her life – eternal life.

It’s not coincidental that Caitie passed away right after the week when people gave most attention to Jesus Christ and celebrated His resurrection. Even in her death, she testifies to what He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)

What a sweet promise to revive our crushed hope. This is not the end of Caitie’s story, as it isn’t the end of God’s story for each of our lives. He is a redeemer and he never wastes our pain.

Yancey told the story of Jerry Sittster, author of the books A Grace Disguised and A Revealed. He was a professor of Whitworth College who lost his wife, mother, and four-year old daughter in a tragic car accident when a drunk driver hit them. In A Grace Disguised, which speaks of what happened, he composed, “The loss brought about by the accident had changed my life, setting me on a course down which I had to journey whether I wanted to or not. I was assigned both a tremendous burden and a terrible challenge. I faced the test of my life. One phase of my life had ended; another, the most difficult, was about to begin.”

Twenty years later, in A Grace Revealed, he surmised, “Eventually, we will live happily ever after, but only when the redemptive story ends, which seems a long way off. In the meantime, you and I are somewhere in the middle of the story, as if stuck in the chaos and messiness of a half-finished home improvement project. We might have one chapter left in our story, or we might have fifty. We could experience more of the same for years to come, or we could be on the verge of change so dramatic that if we knew about it we would faint with fear or wonder, or perhaps both. We could be entering the happiest phase of our lives, or the saddest. We simply don’t know and can’t know…In my mind there is only one good option: we must choose to stay in the redemptive story. However unclear it might be to us, we can trust that God is writing the story.” (Pg. 61 – 62)

We do not know the course our lives will take on this earth, nor do we know if our children will be spared from the ills that are in this fallen world. Like the Lucas family, we may face similar trials. However, we can know the Divine Architect who has a master plan for everything we go through. His redemptive story for you and for me is that we experience the love and grace He displayed through His Son, Jesus Christ, and enter into a personal relationship with Him that will continue for all eternity.

On Courageous Caitie’s timeline either Tine or Jay Jay wrote, “I miss you Caitie. But I’m glad were able to give you great family memories here on earth.” However, beyond the earthly memories of family and the precious moments they shared together, I do believe the most important gift that Tine and Jay Jay gave to Caitie was the gift of knowing Christ. Indeed, they did the one most loving thing they could ever do for her as parents – they prepared Caitie for her eternal home.

I was reminded that this is the most loving thing that we can do for the people we love, too. We do not know how long we will have to love the people God has surrounded us with. Let us make Caitie’s life count by passing on the miracle of Christ’s love to our spouses, our children, our families and friends. Caitie fought hard to teach us this and she died to remind us not to hold back, waste time, squander opportunities, or trade the lesser things for the greater things.

Thank you, Jay Jay and Tine for sharing Courageous Caitie’s journey with us. You raised a beautiful, special girl who lived for an exemplary purpose — to bring the hearts of the broken to the healing arms of Christ, where she is smiling, waiting there for you. 




  1. Yes and Amen. :’)

  2. kathrine says:

    this is so beautiful joy. when i saw the post this morning, my heart was crushed and i don’t understand why God allowed this to happen. but your article gives comfort and a “parking” explanation of where we are, and what is to come and what should matter the most. ill take note of the books quoted and read it as well.

    • Joy T Mendoza says:

      I am glad you were comforted, Kathrine. It’s still hard to understand but I suppose this where we really need to keep trusting that God will work everything out for their greater good because he loves them.

  3. crying

  4. Carl Aquino-Biolena says:

    Beautifully written Joy. 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing. Be blessed

  6. Anonymous says:

    Condolence to the family. May God grant peace in their hearts. As a mother, it breaks my heart to watch them grief. There was an incident here in taiwan, a 4 year old girl was decapitated by a man while riding her strider. I salute the mother for being calm and courageous asking the netizens to be calm ( no criticisms, no hate, no anger) and address the root of the problem (the murderer has psychiatric problem). May they find comfort knowing that their kids is in God’s hands.

  7. Crying..

  8. wow. such a powerful and inspirational piece there miss joy. i’m in tears while reading ????????????

  9. Anonymous says:

    beautiful. thank you

  10. Very well said.
    Condolences to the Lucas family. May God and Caitie be always with them during this time of grief.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing such an inspirig, uplifting article. Praying for the Lucas family.

  12. Maricor Go-Brozo says:

    Thank you Joy.

  13. As a mom of two boys and a girl, oh how the story of Caitie crushed my heart. I cried yesterday when I learned about what happened through Courageous Caite’s fb and still cried while reading your post. I even asked God how He can let children suffer like this. But thanks to you because your post made me realize how God’s plans can be different from our plans and yet even if we cannot understand them, know that He has a wonderful plan for all of us. Comforting to know is that Jesus suffered all these things and He can relate to our suffering.

    Thank you so much for this post. Please send my condolences to the family of Caitie. I’m praying for them.

  14. Sherelle says:

    In line with this, the greatest gift that we could give our children is knowing God. Where do babies or children with mental illness go after they die? We are all born sinners and we need to accept God to be saved. How do we make babies or mentally incapacitated understand about God? If they don’t accept Christ, where do they go? How do you go about this?

    • Hi Sherelle,

      I don’t know if I could answer correctly. But I think this is as similar as to those who are at the other end of the earth and literally has not heard Jesus. And the only answer to it is – God is loving and forgiving, and at the same time, A JUST GOD. We won’t be held accountable for the things that we don’t do. God reveals himself in different ways, unimagineable. So if a certain person has the opportunity to share the gospel to someone who has a mental illness as you have cited, then it is his responsibility to share the gospel no matter how impossible it looks like. And in case that, that person with mental disorder dies, only God knows how he responded to His word. Our role is to honor God and make disciples by sharing the good news. Only God has the authority to judge, so do not be burdened but instead cling to that faith THAT WE CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS US.

      God bless you!


    • Joy T Mendoza says:

      I cannot say this as dogma but I personally believe that those who cannot accept Christ because they are infants or mentally challenged go to heaven. When David committed adultery with Bathsheeba, God took away his child. He mourned for his child while the baby was sick. But as soon as the baby died, he stopped mourning which baffled the people around him. His response was this: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
      David’s response shows us that he could not bring his child back to life but someday, he knew he would be able to go to him. David’s response indicates that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child but could not bring the child back to him.

  15. Maria San Pedro says:

    Very touching and inspiring article Joy!
    Every parent can relate to the journey of the Caitie and how precious her life is.
    Condolences and prayers to the Lucas family. May God’s loving embrace comfort her family especially her parents.

  16. Beautifully written with a pure mother’s heart. I cried when I heard of it yesterday and cried even more while and after reading this. May God uplift the family’s mourning hearts and souls, and we, who have witnessed Catie’s journey, be inspired to fight our own battles courageously like she did. 🙂

  17. Anonymous says:

    How I wish that this would not happen again to any parent.
    I had lost my father in 2007 and until now i missed him terribly. How much more for a parent to loose their child. No words can express the emptiness no one can fill the hole except God.

  18. Catie has powerfully touched us… has changed us…
    We will never forget her.
    Your article is both enlightening and really helpful for people like me,
    who asked “Of all people, why Catie?”

  19. Jojie Miranda says:

    Hi, Joy. This article is one of your masterpieces. It did not only deal with death and hope but more importantly, you spoke of that one great faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I shared the Gospel to our two sons – then ages 6 and 4 1/2. I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and I know that it would be my joy to see them accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That was in 1998. After 18 years, by the grace of God, I am still alive. Joel is now 24 and Jonathan 22. There is no greater consolation but to know that when the time comes that He calls us, we will all be together again By the way, I am a pastor’s wife ,too.

    By the way, I was not able to update you but I had my total hysterectomy in June 2014 for endometrial cancer . Last July 2015, I had a slipping accident in a stairs and had major surgery for my right hand. That was my 10th procedure/surgery in my lifetime. What can I say? His grace abounds. I feel so special and I know He really cares for sustaining me.

    God bless your ministries, Joy. I appreciate you so much!

    • Joy T Mendoza says:

      Wow this is all so amazing, Jojie! Thanks for sharing this with me!!! So blessed by your perspective and your life!

  20. dinah araneta says:

    Thank you for this beautiful Post…very comforting and enlightening …i cried so much for courageous Caitie , for her parents, but as a Christian I trust and have faith in our God and I know that Caitie is with him now smiling ,happy, well,healthy,rejoicing in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father…

  21. dinah araneta says:

    Thank you for this beautiful Post…very comforting and enlightening …i cried so much for courageous Caitie , for her parents, but as a Christian I trust and have faith in our God and I know that Caitie is with him now smiling ,happy, well,healthy,rejoicing in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father…

  22. Thanks you so much Joy and the Lucas family for sharing us the life of so courageous Caitie. God uses this article to remind me to treasure my family and to extend and share Jesus Christ’s love to my family, /love ones and to other people surrounding me.

    I’m often selfish and self centered yet the terrible pain of Caitie have been there and her family too. I’m broken in spirit and my heart upon reading this. God is dealing me now to be more devoted in loving Him, following Him and to love others with His love. I pray that the legacy of Caitie will give us fruitful life in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    God Bless! Everyone. Especially the Lucas family

  23. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully written. I cried the first time I learned about Catie and still crying each time I read about her. I have band aid on my finger right now. She has touched me and taught me that no other person did and she is just over 3 years old.

  24. Anonymous says:


  25. Catie’s life gave me an inspiration to continue my faith in Jesus. She had surpassed the greatest battle and she is now with our King. May God continually bless Lucas family amidst the pain and loneliness they feel right now. My heart is crying every time I see Catie’s beautiful face and yet she is courageous fighting for physical pain. I am so touched by Lucas’ life. Continue inspiring us with your beautiful life.

    Teacher Joy- you always inspire me every time I read your blog. I first heard your blog from my best friend who is a CCF member. This is one of the best posts you’ve written. May God continuously bless your ministry.

  26. Laurice Tuason says:

    I was reflecting on this and it dawned on me that when Jesus was crucified and died on the cross, to the disciples and to the world, it seemed defeat and everything was lost. However, because we know the true ending, we know that Jesus’ death was really a victory and that He rose again from the dead and now seated with the Father in heaven.

    The same is true for Caitlin. To us, this may feel like that God said no. But because we have the faith that we have, we know that Caitlin lives with Jesus in eternal life. We can trust that the same true story/ending for Jesus is also the same for Caitlin. We may not see her now but she is alive and full of life!

    This little girl will always remind me that Jesus loves me more than most. (still crying but hope is alive) 🙂

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