Who I Met Today

Everyone has a story – Collecting & sharing interesting info, life lessons, & fun things to see & do from the wonderful people in our world

Kathy Cire – Spreading Joy, Hope, and Peace

In October 2016, one week shy of her first birthday, Mary Caroline woke up with a fever.  With no health issues, the spirited and curious toddler appeared to have a childhood virus.  There seemed no reason for her parents and doctors to panic.  Until she did not improve….

Three days later, this precious little girl with the infectious smile and big hair bows passed away from a non-vaccine strain of bacterial meningitis.   Instead of the family gathering at her birthday party, overflowing with Mary Caroline’s favorite pink balloons, they had to say goodbye to their sweet child.

Mary Caroline and The Magnificent Garden

Photo courtesy of Kathy Cire

Talking in the home she grew up in, Kathy Cire quietly says, “We never thought she wasn’t going to pull through this.”  Raised in a tight-knit Houston family, Kathy is extremely close to Erin – Kathy’s niece and Mary Caroline’s mom.

Being the mother of two grown sons, “Erin is like a daughter to me,” Kathy explains.  Both women pursued teaching careers and, loaded with patience, love being surrounded by children. They seem to be the type of women who prefer the attention fall on other people – not them. “And we are both rule followers,” Kathy adds with a laugh. 

The healthiest response to life is joy. –Mark Twain

After the heartbreaking tragedy, Erin’s friends took charge and planned a beautiful celebration to honor Mary Caroline’s life.  “During her short time with us, she brought a lot of joy and smiles to us – and we are thankful,” Kathy recalls.

Kathy Cire's Students and The Magnificent Garden

Kathy and her second grade class. Photo courtesy of Kathy Cire.

But Kathy also wanted to make a difference and have an impact.  Running the 3-mile loop at Houston’s Memorial Park one morning,  she pondered what she could do to keep Mary Caroline’s memory alive.

And then an idea came to her. Butterflies, to different cultures and people, represent hope, comfort or change.  Imagining a butterfly with magical, colorful wings, Kathy envisioned it resting in a beautiful and serene flower garden.   Running around the track, she planned the book she wanted to write.

Showing me her original drafts and thoughts for The Magnificent Garden, Kathy explains she rushed home from the park, sat down at her computer, and typed away. “I didn’t know how I was going to do this, but I didn’t want to simply talk about the idea,” Kathy remembers. 

Writing The Magnificent Garden

“I was determined to make the book a reality,” she continues, “and, throughout the process, I kept telling myself I can do this.” And it was a process – two years of Googling and asking questions and accepting help.  Every step of the way was a new challenge.

The second grade teacher, who has a feel for what appeals to young children, decided to tackle the book’s illustrations.  She needed to draw them  – for Mary Caroline and Erin.  Wanting her drawings to be safe, comfortable, and warm, Kathy learned illustrating a book is a complicated undertaking.  All along the way, people jumped in to help.

Hope is being able to see there is light despite all of the darkness.  –Desmond Tutu

During the two year endeavor, it seems everyone she encountered had experienced their own heartache – or knew folks who’d lost little ones.  “It was amazing how many people this topic seemed to touch,” Kathy says.  A woman helped Kathy scan the illustrations and clean up their imperfections – and told Kathy her friend’s daughter recently died.  The young woman who guided Kathy through the printing phase quietly mentioned she’d lost a brother while growing up.

Book Signing The Magnificent Garden By Kathy Cire

The Magnificent Garden Book Signing. Photo courtesy of Kathy Cire

Reading the developing story to her second grade classes, the kids responded to the book, engaged with it.   They “got the message” the little girl in the story was in a safe and peaceful place.  At the time of Mary Caroline’s death, her older brother was only three years old.  Hicks was confused and didn’t understand his younger sister was not coming back. Kathy hopes her “simple, little book will make a difference and help people, especially children.”

This tiny and astute grandmother, who occasionally sneaks out for an ice cream cone (her husband’s heart healthy diet won’t allow it!), remembers exactly where she was when her book became available on Amazon. Tutoring a young boy with his math facts, the former student’s mom entered the room and excitedly announced she’d just purchased Kathy’s book.  She planned to give it to a friend who had recently suffered a loss.

Mary Caroline’s family. Photo courtesy of Kathy Cire

Five-year-old Hicks has a new baby brother now. Erin “can’t imagine a better gift than Aunt Kathy’s touching story.”  Determined to honor Mary Caroline and bring hope to families who have lost little ones, Kathy is content. “I’ve had the privilege of teaching school for years, and I wrote this book – my life is good!” she laughs.

Kathy’s book, The Magnificent Garden, is available on Amazon

You may also enjoy reading about Jen Lofgren and Casting For Recovery AND  Repurposing Furniture for Victims of Domestic Violence.

2 Discussions on
“Kathy Cire – Spreading Joy, Hope, and Peace”

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.