Catherine Malatesta was a bubbly 16-year-old girl more or less like any other. Except that she had recently been diagnosed with stage IV cancer.
Before her diagnosis, Catherine played sports, enjoyed hanging out with her friends, and dreamed of attending her prom.
But with the big event nearly a year away and her prognosis looking bleak, Catherine knew her chances of going to prom were slim to none. Her cancer had progressed so far that she spent most of her time in the hospital, missing school and friends, so it was more than likely that Catherine would miss the dance as well.
So she and her friends and family rejoiced when the hospital released her just a few days before prom, an amazing coincidence that changed everything.
Catherine attended the event with her date, Peter Clifford, and her friends, Jillian, Emma, Lauren, and Carly.
And she looked absolutely stunning!
But Catherine’s battle with cancer wasn’t over.
After prom, she spent several months fighting for her life and eventually lost her fight.
Her friends, saddened by her passing, knew they needed to do something special to keep her memory alive. Catherine was no longer with them, but she could not be forgotten, and the thought of attending school functions without her was devastating.
And so the Sisterhood of the Traveling Prom Dress was born.
While Catherine would no longer be there to attend the rest of their formal school dances with them, the girls vowed to remember her by taking turns wearing her gorgeous prom dress to each event.
Above, Jillian, Emma, Lauren, and Carly each pose in the beautiful dress, which miraculously fits each of them to a T.
These lovely ladies will not let death ruin their beautiful friendship, and Catherine’s prom dress is an outward sign of her friends’ love for her. Not willing to attend their formal dances without her, they took her with them to the highest degree possible. Their act of love and friendship is one not many teenagers could accomplish, but we’re so glad they did.
Rest in peace, Catherine.
Learn more about Catherine’s short but beautiful life and her friends’ loving tribute to her memory in the video below.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?