Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year....A Family Forever Changed

I want to first thank everyone for their amazing support during this most difficult time in our life. I cannot tell you how much it means to us and how much it has truly helped us to begin a new phase of this journey...a phase we have dreaded...a phase that NO parent should ever have to enter...however, he we are, at this phase and we could not enter it nor walk it alone and we are thankful to everyone because we know we are not alone. Skip and I were simply astonished at the visitation night and services for our Carter-Man. The outpouring of love and support and the number of lives that Carter has touched was very evident....more evident than ever. There is no doubt in our minds that Carter entered this life with a purpose and there is no doubt that he served that purpose. I can only hope that in my life I can touch as many lives as my sweet Carter did. Thank you to each and everyone of you for the cards, emails, letters, visits, attendance at services, and oh so much more....this community is amazing and we are proud to be a part of it!!!! We know sometimes some of you just do not know what to say to us and that is okay. I'm Sorry would suffice. Unless you have lost a child, you don't understand and we do not expect you to. We are glad that we have all of you and we know that words are difficult. We are still ourselves...just with a different perspective on life and forever heartbroken.

We have entered a new year as a family forever changed...a smaller that does not feel complete. Since Carter passed on December 14, 2009, I have felt like something is missing, like I am forgetting something. Every time I leave the house, I look back because I feel the void. Skip and I met our dear friends the Beggans at the movies the week of Christmas to keep Caroline busy and get her out of the house. As we were leaving, I felt it and it stung worse than any bee sting could ever feel. I held back the tears and told myself that I would get through this and that I needed to get through this for Caroline. We had lunch and then went to the movies. During the movies, it was unreal the feelings that Skip and I had. We missed the popcorn mess that always appeared after a few bites of popcorn from the C-Man...he was messy...and we missed it. We missed his backwash into the drink (yes, Mr. Wilcox, he has always done that) and we missed everything about him. Nonetheless, we made it through the movie. As we were leaving, I found myself mentally counting the children as we were leaving (I am famous for this) and after counting two or three times, I realized that the number would never equal to what it should again. Becca and Kyle have 4, we have 2 young children, and we had picked up Alexis on the way. There should have been 7 children with us...I should have counted 7 but I only counted 6. I realized at that moment that I WAS missing something. I was missing my baby and that number would never be correct again. I would always be missing a part of me...a part of us. My heart ached and it took all I had to, again, hold back the tears. This was just the beginning of that feeling and I am sure that there is no end.

Skip and I were lucky to be able to get away after the holidays to join The Thackers and some other dear friends and family at Massanutten. It was much needed and we were able to spend some much needed time with Sweet Caroline. We had a wonderful time but, again, that unimaginable pain (unless you have experienced the loss of a child), hit me like a ton of bricks. We were at the indoor pool and as we were leaving, I again began to mentally count the children and of course, that number did not add up. I again was hit with the reality that Carter was not walking with us. I wanted him there with me. I felt like I was getting angry, something I did not want to happen. I quickly put Caroline into the car and again pulled myself together, holding back the tears. I prayed for strength and I then reminded myself that although I cannot see his face, hold his sweet hand, or hear his contagious laugh, I CAN talk to him and he CAN hear me and I felt peace again...peace that my Carter-Man is very much alive, just not here on earth. He is here with me in spirit and he does go with me everywhere I go. I also reminded myself that I am allowed to be sad and angry and that I forever will feel a void because there is one, a BIG sweet baby boy.

We entered 2010 with dear friends. We entered 2010 as a family...a family forever changed...a family that probably will never feel complete again. We entered 2010 as a stronger family, one with a bond that cannot be broken. This experience has changed us in many ways....some good and some bad. Our hearts will forever be broken...we will always feel that void. The bonds that exist between us are much stronger. We will never take another day for granted..for we were never promised tomorrow and that has become a reality for us. Our faith is stronger than ever....after everything, we feel God's presence more than ever and we know that we could never make it through this without him. We are glad to leave 2009 behind us and start anew. 2009 was a very difficult year from beginning to end for my family....we lost my Papa TJ, Carter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, we lost my Grandaddy Sale, Lauren caught a virus that caused a severe heart condition, possibly requiring a heart transplant, and our sweet Carter passed away.
BUT WE ARE STRONGER AND CLOSER THAN EVER!!!! We have always been close but the ties that bind are unbreakable..I am thankful to have my family and friends...I am thankful to know that through it all I will always have my family...they are amazing.... I LOVE YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH!!!!

There is one more thing that I want to share with you all. About 3 minutes before Carter took his last breath here on earth, I looked into his beautiful blue eyes and asked him one thing...please send me a sign to let me know that you are safe and that you are okay. I can reassure you all that Carter-Man is safe and OK. We laid Carter to rest on December 18th and that evening, he blanketed this town with a beautiful snow..the largest snow storm since 1996...the world was not was perfect. Carter LOVED the snow but his Daddy loves it more and I truly believe he sent that snow to us. He wanted us to slow down and spend time with family and friends and that we did. He also paid a visit to Aunt Beth and Uncle Chuck's house. Annabelle sat straight up in the bed and asked why Carter was there...Beth said that there was a bright light in the hallway and Chuck confirmed that there was not an overhead light on...he has set up shop to watch over Baby Lauren...he is her guardian angel. As you can imagine, Massanutten was packed this week...Skip was anxiously awaiting a parking space on Tuesday and quickly said "Come on, Carter-Man, help me out here" and wouldn't you know that the BEST parking space in the lot opened right up. On Wednesday ,it happened again, and Carter-Man opened up the same exact spot for Skip, Ashley, and Alex. That afternoon they went into the restaurant for lunch and it was packed. Ashley was waiting for a table...assuming they would have to eat standing and right beside her, a group of 3, got up and left, opening up a table for 3 right in front of her.......coincidence....I think not. Carter-Man is with us and he is looking over all of us. When you look in the sky at night, just look for the brightest star and there he is....just ask Kaelan B.....she saw that star and she knew it was Carter-Man and he was twinkling at her!!!!

We love you Carter-Man and we miss you so much!!!


beth and melinda said...

I have been praying for you--Gald to see a new post.
Yes, I believe Carter-Man is everwhere-
There are angels among us.

E said...

We are praying for God to grant you exactly what you need to face each new day. Thank you so much for sharing the amazing and very special ways that Carter-Man is still touching everyone's lives. He is such an inspiration, as is the rest of your precious family. Thank you for updating us...your words are so moving. You all will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

The Sanz Family
Cornelius, NC

anita said...

Even though we don't know each other, I continue to pray for your family. And I wondered last night what the bright star was near the moon - now I know. :D

May you continue to feel God's peace and love.

Anita Monroe
Va. Beach, VA

Anonymous said...

I wanted to leave a comment today because we got some snow and I immediately thought of carter. we normally don't get snow in january, and we are having some crazy weather in memphis. I definetly think carter is sharing his love all around the world, he sure did make my son happy with all this snow! I hope you all keep pushing through each day, we will continue to pray for you.

ashley, memphis, tn

Carlotte Unterseher said...

Dearest Courtney and family,

We continue to keep you in our prayers. Reading this last update brought tears to my eyes. Nobody will understand what you are truly feeling except those that have been through this before but everything said here is so touching and true. There is no doubt that Carter is living and looking after those he loved so much. I have never read something as touching as this update. Your strength and faith are amazing. You are inspiration and testimony to us all that we should never take anything especially life for granted. It's too precious. I hope that 2010 will bring you some peace and happiness!