Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thunderstorms and Gentle Rain.....

It’s been a long time since I updated my blog. A lot has happened. But sometimes when I sit down to write, the pain of typing the emotion is just too great. It’s one thing to walk through the grief and try to survive it; it’s another to relive it by recounting details by putting words on a paper. But, I’ve come to realize, it’s through narrating my journey that I truly can fully grieve.

Grief has been described to me as a flood, ruining lives. Grief has been described to me as a tornado, destroying everything in its path. But to me, loosing Carter has been a lot like a series of thunderstorms. Some days the rain is gentle. I’m able to wake in the morning, go through my daily routine, and make it through the day. The rain is soft and a reminder of new life, sweet smells, and rainbows. Other days, the rain is so blinding I can’t even catch my breath, struggle to see in front of me, and stop in fear of what will happen next.

Maggie lost her first tooth last week. Cooper helped pull it which was so exciting for him! Todd is the expert tooth puller in the Mayes household. I sit back and cheer everyone on! This time it was different. I smiled and cheered Maggie on. She was so excited. Cooper was so excited. I fought to hold back the tears. I gripped my stomach as the physical pain was so intense I was scared I might get sick. I struggled to maintain normalcy. Carter should be here. He should.

Cooper’s team is in the middle of playoffs. He has worked so hard this year to improve as a ball player. I have seen him so proud of his accomplishments. Todd has helped coach which has been good for him (and Cooper). Cooper’s games are so intensely entertaining. I sit back and cheer everyone on! Each game, as Cooper #8 (Carter’s old number), stands at the plate to bat, I fight to hold back the tears. I find myself gripping my stomach as the physical pain is so intense I am scared I might get sick. I struggle to maintain normalcy. Carter should be here. He should.

We attended Cooper’s Cub Scout bridge ceremony a week ago. It’s a ceremony where the Cub Scout crosses the bridge to the next level of scouting. Before the ceremony in a moment of confusion we couldn’t find Cooper’s Cub Scout belt. We were pressed for time so I did the only thing I knew to do. I reached deep in my closet for my box of special Carter memories and pulled Carter’s Cub Scout belt out for Cooper to wear. As I laced the belt through the loops, I look up and Cooper’s eyes are filled with tears. I watch Carter’s Cub Scout den cross the bridge (before Cooper's den), each smiling proudly as the ‘graduate’ to the next scouting level. I fight to hold back the tears. I find myself gripping my stomach as the physical pain is so intense I am scared I might get sick. I struggle to maintain normalcy. Carter should be here. He should.

As I write this I receive a call from Cooper’s summer camp director, Clinton. I called him this morning to give him a heads up on Cooper’s family dynamic before Coop arrives at camp. I can’t even get the words out of my mouth. I start crying as I begin to talk. My tongue gets stuck in my throat and I can’t say anything. Its times like this I realize the thunderstorm is at its worst. I can’t see through the rain. My heart beats so hard I feel like it might fall out of my chest. I can’t do this, I think. It hurts too much, I just want the pain to stop. Then, the rain passes. Clinton begins to pray with me on the phone. I feel at peace and I know I will once again be ‘ok’.

Daily I pray that there will be a day when I won’t cry. Daily I pray that there will be a day that I don’t fall asleep praying I won’t wake up. Daily I pray that the guilt in my heart will lesson. Each day I pray that it will get easier. And, some moments, are easier….and for those ‘gentle rains’, I will forever be grateful.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Maggie...the youngest native

1. Maggie has really great hair....really really great hair.
2. Maggie is really funny.
3. Maggie has great wit.
4. Maggie is really really positive...even when she's trying to be grumpy she's positive. she's really great.
5. Maggie knows that 'the bigger the bow the better the mama'..she ALWAYS has a bow. ALWAYS.
6. Maggie adores her brothers. She idolizes them in every way.
7. Maggie can dress up or dress down. She can have a tea party or dig for worms.
8. Maggie isn't an athlete. She realizes its not about the game...but only what flavor sno-cone comes after the game.
9. Maggie has a strong faith in God and loves going to church...mainly because she loves wearing smocked dresses.
10. Maggie has the best vocabulary. She's really smart!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It hit me....

1. Birthday Party-It hit me at a birthday party. It seemed like such an easy act….going to a birthday party of one of my closest friend, Amy’s, son. His name is Chance and he was one of Carter’s best friends in school. The natives and I picked out his present carefully. We dressed in matching outfits. Brushed our teeth and headed out the door. The birthday party was filled with fun! We fished. We painted. We sprayed silly string. We sat down for ‘happy birthday’ and cake….and I lost it. It was almost as if the world was moving in slow motion. I darted my eyes from Cooper, to Maggie, to Chance, to Amy…tears fell down my face faster than I could wipe them. I felt dizzy; I felt cold…I needed to escape. I ran into the house and cried a thousand tears. I cried for Cooper. I cried for Maggie. I cried for Chance. I cried for Carter’s classmates. I cried for myself. But mainly….I cried for Carter.
2. Ms. Rue’s class-It hit me in Ms. Rue’s class after school yesterday. It seemed like such an easy act….running to Hudson PEP to deliver Mardi Gras beads for Ms. Rue to use as student incentives. I turned to walk down the first and second grade hall. It was after school. The halls were quiet. The students had left. I passed Cooper’s second grade classroom. I glanced in to see his teacher quietly grading student’s work. As I kept walking…..I lost it. It was almost as if the world was moving in slow motion. I darted my eyes from the door, to Coop’s classroom, to the bathrooms, to Carter’s classroom…and last to Carter’s footprint above the door…..tears fell down my face faster than I could wipe them. I couldn’t even talk to Ms. Rue….I hugged her, set the Mardi Gras beads down…and cried some more. I felt dizzy; I felt cold….I needed to escape. I ran out of the building and cried a thousand tears. I cried for Ms. Rue. I cried for Hudson PEP. I cried for Cooper. I cried for Carter’s classmates. I cried for myself. But mainly….I cried for Carter.
3. Nurse Lisa-It hit me when I read a note from Nurse Lisa. It seemed like such an easy act….reading a sweet note a friend had written regarding Carter. I’ve done it a thousand times. I opened my facebook and started to read the words she had written. It hit me that we had visited with her just two days before Carter when to Heaven. As I kept reading….I lost it. It was almost as if the world was moving in slow motion. I darted my eyes from the computer, to my student’s, to the door…and back to the computer….tears fell down my face faster than I could wipe them. I couldn’t even talk to my students….I just cried. I felt dizzy; I felt cold….I needed to escape. I ran out of my classroom and cried a thousand teachers. I cried for Dr. McCrory. I cried for Nurse Lisa. I cried for Cooper. I cried for Maggie. I cried for myself. But mainly….I cried for Carter.

There's been a thousand moments like these. Unusual times when life should be so simple. I forget and order three kids meals at McDonalds. I write his name on top of the field trip form. I buy his favorite brand of yogurt. I ask for extra ketchup at chic fil a. It hurts. It hurts a lot.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear Carter

This week was tough. As your friends find out what baseball team they are on...I was choosing your grave marker. As your friends were studying for their spelling test, I was looking at the scrapbook my friend Shay made me of your life. This week as your friends attended soccer practice, I packed away your favorite toys. As your friends played at recess, I was forced to remember the anniversary of your passing. As your friends were being tucked into bed, I was silently crying myself to sleep.

I miss you Carter


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Her name is Amber......His name was Brett

Her name is Amber. She’s my age. I received her email 16 days after my December 4th accident. The words she wrote would send chills up my spine as I read them. Our stories are eerily similar….and neither end happily ever after.

Her accident was December 8, 2008 (two years prior to mine almost to the exact day). She was traveling alone with her three children. Her oldest son, Andrew was Cooper’s age. Her middle son, Brett, was Carter’s age. Her daughter, Dani, was Maggie’s age. Her husband, like mine, was out of town. Two boys and a little girl…. Our stories are eerily similar…..and neither end happily ever after.

After making a blind left turn, one she had made a million times before (like the route I traveled the day of the accident...familiar road.), her car was struck and rolled a number of times before landing in the ditch. Our stories are eerily similar, and neither end happily ever after.

Her middle son, Brett, like Carter Kieth, left the scene via helicopter bound for Children’s hospital in Dallas, Texas He, like Carter, would only live a few hours. In a matter of hours…he went to heaven. Our stories are eerily similar, and neither end happily ever after.

I have no friends in common with Amber. She heard my story from two different sources and felt called to contact me. She contacted me….and for that….I will forever be grateful.

She doesn’t have all the answers but she has walked in my shoes.

Her pain is my pain. Her walk is my walk. We are now a part of a club neither of us ever wanted to join. She is now my dear friend ….i thank my God. Our stories are eerily similar, and maybe….just maybe they’ll end happily ever after.....

Sweet Carter

Sweet Brett


Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Oldest Native

1. Coop is so smart....embarassingly smart, like knows weird stuff and I'm not sure where he gets that.
2. Coop is so empathetic. He has an uncanny ability to put himself in others' shoes.
3. Coop is curious.
4. Cooper has a loyal set of friends he's been friends with since birth.
5. Coop makes a friend everywhere he goes.
6. Coop was my first born. He's the kid I learned 'the ropes' with. He taught me everything I know about being a mom.
7. Coop is my knight in shining armour. He has such strength in his touch I feel stronger just by holding his hand. He makes me feel like I can move mountains.
8. Coop has a great voice. Its raspy, kind of hoarse sounding...i love it!
9. Cooper loves big.
10. Coop is so compassionate! He loves to help people, animals and things...I am lucky to know him.

Friday, February 18, 2011

the proof is in the picture.....

high class girl with white trash tendancies.....


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Acronyms and Swimming Lessons

In my profession, I deal with acronyms all day long....AYP, IEP, ARD, SI, VI, MR, AU etc etc etc....

There are three acronyms I NEVER thought would touch my life...much less my heart


Dead on Arrival

Cause of Death

Traumatic Brain Injury

I visited Children's hospital Tuesday, February 15th at 4 PM. I hate how the time is branded on my brain but it is what it is....

I met with Carter's trauma team and a chaplain from Children's. You see...I was there for answers. Not just for me, but for the natives. It is hard to explain death when the last memories we have of Carter were alive...no blood of his own but tears...alive tears.

It turns out Carter's head injury was internal. His brain started swelling almost immediately, so by the time he got to Children's, they were already in the 27th minute of CPR (there we go...another acronym). He, for all intents and purposes, was pronounced dead on arrival. The length of time CPR was preformed was too long for organs to be viable for donation. Those of you who know me, know one of my main questions was why organs weren't donated to those in need. The answer was they went too long without oxygen. Carter's body was kept alive by machines until my parents arrived and he was then.....prounced dead.

I guess I waited all this time to master the obvious. I know he's gone but that doesn't make it any easier to hear.

Rich was a family friend. He taught me to swim. Our families have been friends for years and years. He taught me to swim. He was older than me, a cool kid, who had cool high school friends. He taught me to swim. I was just a 7 year old girl who came to swim in his pool. He taught me to swim. I will forever by grateful.

I wish Rich could help me navigate these unknown, uncharted waters. But you see, he can't. I have to swim alone. Learning to swim seems like such a silly analogy when talking about the death of my precious child. But it seems like the only one that makes sense. You see....sometimes I feel as if I'm drowning. You see....sometimes I feel as if I'm treading water. You see....sometimes I feel as though I'm just trying to keep my head above water. He taught me to swim. One day I will say 'I'm swimming'...I just wish I knew how to swim.


Valentine's Day balloon release.....

Carter's best buddy Chance made him a valentine bucket

Heart shaped balloons filled the classroom ceiling...amazing!

Valentines to Heaven....


Friday, February 11, 2011

DAMN, I need a glass of wine

I finished reading 'Choosing to See' last night. It was a book recommended to me by another mother who had lost a child. I really am impressed by Mary Beth Chapman's ability to see 'good' in each and every situation...I was however a little disappointed by her seemingly amazing walk with God....at some points in the story I wanted her to just scream...'DAMN, I need a glass of wine'. But I guess it wasn't that kind of book. It was a helpful book and I'm glad I read it. My next stop on the reading trail is 'I know Heaven is REAL' which I am really excited about reading....and yes, I'll read it with a glass of wine.

I made an appointment to visit with the trauma team at Children's Medical Center in Dallas that treated Carter man the day of the accident. For those of you who don't know, Carter was care flighted to Children's while Cooper, Maggie and I each went to ETMC, Tyler to be treated. My parents met the trauma team at Children's but I never made it to Children's. My grief therapist advised me that the first step to overcoming this PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is to meet with Carter's doctors and let them tell me about Carter's final hours on earth. When I left Carter he was saying 'Mommy'...the next time I would see him would be in his casket. So Tuesday, February 15th I will meet the men and women who carefully worked to save Carter, December 4, 2010. I'm not sure I'm excited about the meeting but it is the next step in a grieving process that can only be described as 'being burned alive'....

and yes, it makes me want to say 'DAMN, I need a glass of wine'....


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Life isn't fair...even in prayer

Baby Elliott is going to be ok!!. He overcame some big hurdles yesterday. Lanie's sister, Laurie said it was a true miracle. I believe in miracles. I believe in the power of prayer. I've prayed and prayed and prayed for baby Elliott. But sometimes....life isn't fair, even in prayer.

December 4, 2011 remberances: The accident comes back to me in waves. Sometimes I have a memory in the middle of a lesson with my students. Sometimes I have a memory in the middle of the shower. Sometimes I have a memory in the middle of the night. Sometimes I have a memory while praying with the natives. Last night I had a memory in the middle of reading a book....and I remembered my prayer on December 4th.

While I was reading last night, I found myself remembering me kneeling beside carter with my shirt wrapped around his little arm. His arm was cut so deep I could see the bone. I removed my own shirt and wrapped it around the injury to stop the bleeding. I remember praying for God to save his arm. I yelled at the man helping me 'he plays baseball, he can't lose his arm'....little did I know how trivial my prayer was. Carter didn't lose his arm....he lost his life.

While I was on the emergency room table I prayed harder than I'd ever prayed before. I remember bargaining with God. I prayed 'if/then' prayers. 'If you save Carter's arm, then I promise to commit myself to you in ever capacity'. Last night for the first time....i feel like that day, at mile marker 562, I prayed the wrong prayer for my son. How silly was I to pray for his arm?! How superficial am I to pray that he could play baseball this spring if his arm healed. Carter didn't lose his arm....he lost his life.

I cried a lot last night. I cried for Elliott and his family. I cried for my Carter and my family. I cried because I had prayed and prayed and prayed so hard for Elliott....just like I had prayed for Carter.

I only wish I knew why one child was saved while one child wasn't. Sometimes life isn't fair....even in prayer.

peace and healing.....


Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunday School Teachers and stuff.....

I have a friend named Lanie. She was Carter's Sunday School teacher. Carter called her 'mommy's pretty friend that teaches me in sunday school'. He loved her. Lanie and I would email from time to time about funny things Carter said about Sunday School. She and I became good friends.

At Carter's memorial service, I don't remember much of anything. I don't remember who attended. I don't remember who I hugged. I don't remember who said 'God bless you'. I don't remember. But.....i do remember Lanie. In the mass of hundreds of people, I looked up as I walked out and I made eye contact with her. I saw her eyes filled with tears and I remember.

Later in the week I would find a bible in my mailbox. It was a pretty bible with a sweet inscription inside from Lanie reading 'I love you sweet friend'. It would take a day or two for me to pick up the bible and look inside. I would find that Lanie had highlighted and paper clipped verses of hope, healing, love, and loss though out the ENTER bible. I have read each verse she highlighted. I have cried over each paper clipped page. I have felt comforted, not only by the Word but by my friend's thoughtfulness, her tender heart, her strength.

Now Lanie needs my prayers. She needs the same words she gave me about strength, faith, hope, love, healing.

You see....Lanie's son, born February 3....is hurt. His heart and lungs aren't working. He's really sick. Elliott, Lanie's son, is in Dallas, at Children's hospital.

In the same hospital where Carter lost his life, Elliott is fighting for his.

I have struggled with my faith. I have been angry at God. I have felt cheated by God....but now, at this very moment, I know that God can move mountains. I know that I can pray and pray and pray some more that baby Elliott feel Carter's loving arms wrapped around him. I want Elliott to live and be healthy....not only because I love his family, but also for selfish reasons. I need Elliott to be ok so I know that Carter had a hand in his healing. I want this only small life, Elliott's, to matter. I want Elliott to grow to be big and strong. I want to watch him play....and one day....

I want to be Elliott's Sunday School teacher.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A painful reflection

December 4, 2010 would start as an ordinary day. The morning was filled with Breakfast with Santa, Olivia's birthday party, Maggie's dance recital, lunch at McAllisters....then off to Canton to buy some wrapping paper and visit friends. We never made it to Canton.

Rememberances: The three kids were in the back seat. Maggie was behind me, Cooper in the middle, Carter was on the right of Cooper. The kids were buckled. Carter wadded a sweatshirt into a ball to take a nap, Cooper intently played his itouch, and maggie played with a toy she had found on the floor board. Maggie was singing at the top of her lungs, Carter was yelling at her to be quiet....It was a pretty day. The sky was clear and the weather was amazing. I glanced in the back seat to quiet the commotion, when I turned my head around, the car in front of me had slowed because of car trouble and the passenger had his hand out the window waving me past. I quickly turned into the left lane, overcorrecting, then overcorrecting again. The tahoe beging to roll. I remember screaming, metal crashing, blood, glass, people, pain, fear, crying, people yelling, helicopter humming, ambulance lights flashing, screams for mommy.....my life would never be the same.

When my carter left me he was crying. He said 'mommy' and I told him I loved him with my whole heart. I promised him it'd be ok soon....I promised him I'd protect him.... I screamed 'i love you carter' and held his warm little hand...

i remember laying on a cold emergency room table. I remember my hand hurting and blood in my hair. I remember maggie coming in to tell me she loved me. i remember cooper being wheeled in on a table to tell me he would be ok. I remember the chaplain. He came in and looked at me....tears were in his eyes. I remember he said 'i'm so sorry'.....I remember screaming. I remember the broken promises I made to Carter....I couldn't protect him. It wouldn't be ok.

We buried Carter four days later. My life is forever changed. This blog is a story of my journey. Its a story about good days and bad. It's a story about funny memories and painful ones. It's a story about broken promises and hopeful futures. This is my story. Peace be with you.


Carter Kieth

Please, don't ask me if I'm over it yet.

I'll never get over it.

Please, don't tell me he's in a better place.

He's not here with me.

Please, don't say at least he isn't suffering.

I haven't come to terms with why he had to suffer at all.

Please, don't tell me you know how I feel,

unless you have lost a child.

Please, don't ask me if I feel better.

Bereavment isn't a condition that clears up.

Please, don't tell me you had him for so many years.

What year would you chose for your child to die?

Please, don't tell me God never gives more than we can bear.

Please, just say you are sorry.

Please, just say you remember Carter.

Please, just let me talk about Carter.

Please mention Carter


Please, just let me cry.