June 28, 2010

Your Funeral

Dear Carter,
Our very sweet neighbor came over the other day to tell us that we could clip any of her roses, at any time to take up to your grave. We took her up on the offer, and Jovie chose one rose of every color for your first bouquet. There it is sitting right in front of your butterfly.
I finally met up with your Aunt April today and got the pictures from your funeral. It's bittersweet to look at these. It comforts me to see how many people were there to lay you to rest, but of course it brings back memories that have a sharp pain.
Here is a picture of your name spelled out with our favorite pictures. This was all your Daddy's idea, and I must say I'm so glad that he came up with it. We got a ton of comments on how nice it was to see your face in so many ways.
Here are some pictures of the photos we displayed. The one on the right was a video slideshow.

I thought this arrangement was quite fitting. It said "The Little Engine That Could". It was easy to think of you saying the phrase "I think I can..."Here is the little wooden casket we picked out for you. Luckily it left plenty of room at the bottom since your brother, sister, and cousin wanted to send you with a few toys.
Your Grandpa, Mikey, Uncle TJ, Uncle Marty, Cousin Justin, and Uncle Justin were your pall bearers. They did a great job, and they all looked so handsome.You are buried right next to your Grandpa Mike. You'd better take good care of him baby boy!We sent some balloons straight up to heaven. Jovie and Mikey were so excited that you would get to play with them.I took your brother and sister to the splashpad today. I'll tell you all about the butterfly there tomorrow.
I love you so very much baby boy. My heart aches to hold you, or to at least kiss my favorite spot on your cheek.

June 23, 2010

Operation Smile

Dear Carter,

Can you believe that there has been enough money donated to Operation Smile to pay for AT LEAST 6-7 surgeries?!?! I keep getting emails and letters in the mail telling me that donations have been made in your name. You left your stamp on the world baby boy, and it's most definitely an honor to be your mommy.

Thank you for choosing me.

June 22, 2010

Dinosaur Park

Dear Carter,
I still didn't dream of you last night, but I'm hopeful that one day I will.
We went with some friends to the Dinosaur Park today. Just as I was feeling sad that you never got to go to there with us, Mikey spotted a penny in the pond. There you were giving us a little sign that you were there.
Mikey and Jovie had a really fun time in the bright sunshine.

Afterward, I took your handprint and footprint to the headstone place to have them engraved. I can't wait to see the final product...it should be done by the first week of August.
Still missing you like crazy baby boy, and so sad that I can't kiss your cheeks.

June 21, 2010

Dear Carter,

Dear Carter,

I woke up today thinking of you as I do every morning. It's funny that the first thing I still do is roll over to check your Oximeter. I wonder if that habit will ever fade.

Yesterday was Father's Day, and of course we missed you through every minute of it. We all missed you like crazy, and our hearts hurt the whole day thinking about how you should be here with us. I know that you were here, but sometimes that just isn't enough.

Today was a good day. Jovie had dance class this morning. You'd be very proud at how well she's doing...in fact, she's going to start tumbling classes pretty soon too. She still draws you pictures every single day and picks flowers to put on your grave. I know that there are some pretty pink roses coming your way tomorrow courtesy of your big sister. Mikey always points out things that remind him of you. They both miss you very much.

Afterward, we went out to do a little shopping. As we were leaving one store, I saw a baby who was about your age, alone inside of a car. His daddy had left him there while he ran inside the store. The dad had thought enough to leave the air conditioner on, but that also meant that the car was unlocked and running. Needless to say, I got very angry that somebody would be so careless with their child, so I called the police. I watched the baby for about five more minutes before the dad came back out and drove away. I have no idea if he was ever caught, but I pray that he doesn't do that to that poor baby again.

I found a nice surprise in our mailbox today. Your girl, Kathy, wrote a very nice article about you in the railroad newsletter. Here's what it said...

"I am Team Carter. Well, I'm a member of Team Carter. And just how did I get to be a member? I'm not sure.

Am I family? No.
Was I chosen? No.
Did I even know this family? No.

If just..... well.... it just happened.

About the time Carter was born, I was shown a "blog" called "Team Carter". It's written by his mother and I felt an immediate attachment to this little boy and his family. So, I began to follow his story.

Ya know, I open up the newspaper every single day. I read about earthquakes, floods, fires, plane crashes, and child abuse. Such depressing, terrible stuff, right? Then I get to read teh daily antics of Carter and his family. Their story has become a real light in my life and so much more refreshing than the news. This truly is a story of hope and love.

As he fights to overcome so many obstacles in his daily life, I find myself going through them - with him. I cheer him on for his accomplishments - Yay! Carter is sitting all by himself. I laugh when she describes something funny - like the day they made the big move and moved his crib away from his mom's bedside; turns out it was something like the other side of the room. But, it was huge to her and Carter. And I shed tears the time she talked about certain doctors referring to Carter as if he were a "thing" instead of a tiny loving little boy. And as "we" live through his struggles, he emerges a hero.

He becomes "The Little Engine That Could"

A year went by and I finally got to meet them all. As a matter of fact, it happened to be Carter's very first birthday. Like the blog I had been following, this family was AMAZING. A few of us (from Carter's Railroad Family) had attended a Walk/Run fundraiser for Operation Smile. It was pretty chilly that day on March 27th and Carter was in his stroller all bundled up.

I couldn't wait to peek inside. And when I did, the most beautiful big - dark eyes met mine. He just stared at me eye-to-eye. he did not smile. But he didn't cry either. (whew) He just stared. As others peeked in with me, his eyes remeained glued on me. Well, I coudn't take my eyes off him either. I could have just sat there and watched him forever. He was absolutely beautiful!

Every time I looked in at him that day he'd meet me with those bid dark eyes. I was soon thinking to myself, (as Sally Field once exclaimed) " He likes me! He REALLY likes me!"

Realistically, it might have been the ball cap i had on iwth the snarling bulldog wearing a bright orange hat surrounded by "bling" and my big dark sunglasses that caught Carter's attention that day. But I will forever choose to believe, "he only had eyes for me".

News Update:
By the time you receive this newsletter, sadly, the little light in our life went out. Our little Carter passed away May 30, 2010.

Following surgery, complications proved too much for him to overcome. We will never forget him and the little ray of sunshine he brought into our lives. In his 14 months on earth, he taught us so much about the truly important things in life. Our love and prayers go out to the McMerrick family and we deeply share their grief.

Farewell, little buddy. We'll all just try to "Keep On - Keepin' On".

Typing that out made me cry a little, but it's a good cry. I remember that day she describes, and it is by far one of my favorite days with you, my sweet boy. I can't wait until the day that we can have more days together like that one.

Still missing you, and loving you, and praying that I will dream of you tonight.

-Your Momma

June 17, 2010

10 Years Ago

It's hard to believe that ten years ago, on this day, I married the love of my life.

Ten years ago, wow!

Almost seven years ago, we were blessed when our Mikey joined our family, and four and a half years ago our Jovie made her entrance. Almost fifteen months ago little Carter blessed our lives, and almost three weeks ago he left a hole in our hearts.

It has been a wild ride, and I can't think of anyone else in this whole wide world that I would have wanted to go on this journey with.

I love you Michael... you are my love, my rock, my hero. Thank you for taking care of me, and giving me three amazing kids. I love my life, and it's all because you're in it. I know that this last year and especially these last three weeks have been extremely hard, but I know that we will brave the storm just fine because we are doing it together. I love you. Thank you.

June 10, 2010

The Butterfly

I'm sorry that I haven't updated.

I feel as though I've lost the fire to do much of anything lately especially blogging. I have no idea which direction I want to go with it. Of course Team Carter is going to continue on...we are still planning on doing charity work for Operation Smile, and all of the 5K runs. I think the best thing for me to do right now is take things one blog post at a time.

So, how are we feeling? I would have to say that I feel incredibly sad...and angry...and jealous. I have no idea if those feelings are normal, or not....but that is how I feel.

I'm sad that our little man is gone. I know that he is perfect now, and happy, but that still leaves me with a lot of sadness that we don't get to kiss him or hear him laugh. I am angry that we only had a short time with him. In some weird way it just seems so unfair...like it's not how it's supposed to be. I've always felt like we were supposed to watch him grow for at least a few more years. I'm jealous that others get to enjoy their special ones for so much longer, and I HATE feeling like that. That is the feeling that I hope I can work through the quickest.

Michael went back to work yesterday, and now I have to find my new kind of "normal". As many of you know, being a special needs mommy takes up a LOT of time and energy. I've been spending a lot of time away from the house because at home is where things seem the hardest. I plan to fill our summer with a lot of activities to keep us busy. It is a blessing that Mikey and Jovie are out of school for the summer. They are most certainly the best medicine for this mommy's broken heart.

So now, on to the reason why this post is titled "The Butterfly"

Jovie got one of those Butterfly Gardens for her birthday. If you don't know what that is, it is a mesh butterfly "house" where you put caterpillars and watch them grow into butterflies. I had been putting off ordering the caterpillars until the weather got a little nicer. I finally ordered them in the beginning of May, and the arrived on the day of Carter's surgery. At the time I found it a little ironic, and felt a connection between these caterpillars and Carter from the beginning. We watched them grow for about a week until they finally went inside their tiny cocoons. I found it very ironic when the butterflies hatched on the very day of Carter's funeral.

As a tribute to Carter, we released them at his gravesite. Because much like the tiny butterflies, he is now free to spread his wings. In another twist of this story, a relative of ours sent us a letter describing how she and her husband were at the cemetery on Memorial Day and released a butterfly balloon, and in her words "it struggled at first in the wind, but just like little Carter did in his brief, meaningful life, it finally took wing and soared."

A fellow blogger family at Joy In The Journey attended Carter's viewing and brought with them a piggy bank. There was a note that told us that every time we saw a coin on the ground, it was Carter's way of saying Hi! How brilliant is that?!

I'd like to think that every time we see a butterfly it is also Carter's way of telling us that he is OK.