Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This is Carmen with a bunch of little American Girl Dolls someone gave her.
It is hard to transition to a life without Carmen. You all have been so incredibly kind and generous with us it is amazing. I am glad Carmen is not suffering anymore. I love going and sitting in her room. It is warm and peaceful in there, and it is almost like I am still sitting next to her as she lay in bed. I love my family dearly. It is hard to explain how lucky I feel. I am sad at my lost opportunities and friendship with Carmen, but I feel so lucky to have had her at all. I feel very lucky, or blessed, to have each of my boys too. I have a wonderful, beautiful family. They drive me crazy too. We have fights and problems just like everyone, but overall life is so good.
We don't know a good way to post our talks and Reed's song online still, so if you would like a copy of anything you may email us at: galbraith7@att.net.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our First Everything without Carmen

It's Reed again.

Here we have another shot from Jack's Camp. I figured we already had lots of pictures of Carmen on the blog, so I picked this one of Vincent in his younger days, before he turned 7 and all. I wonder what's on his mind here.

I've been meaning to write this post for several days now. Thanks to all of you who participated in the ice cream social are long overdue. Hard to believe that was nearly two weeks ago! We were once again overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we received from all of you. There is no way we could name everyone, yet it's literally true that every single one of you has strengthened us and lifted us higher.

So what's next?

Life without Carmen is next. No, she hasn't forgotten us, and we certainly haven't forgotten her, but she's on the other side of the veil now. We went out to dinner as a family (a rare event) the other night. There was a gap between two of our boys, where Carmen might have been once upon a time. I tried not to think about it at that moment, but my eyes kept moving back to the empty seat. Our first family dinner at a restaurant without Carmen. I try not to overdo this in my mind, but I can't help but notice her absence.

On Sunday I visited Primary (children's Sunday school) for the first time since Carmen died. It was hard. All those little girls in there, reminding me of my own little girl. Do you know what, I don't mind crying. I actually crave it because those are the times when Carmen seems the most real to me. It alarms me, how much I typically forget about her, all the little everyday things I always took for granted before. Her hair. They shaved it off before her initial surgery, and it never really grew back. It tried, but it just ran out of time.

People ask us what we need. Do you know what I feel a need for more than anything? Communication, any form, with people who care about Carmen. Each word, each touch, is like a lifeline that I cannot wait to grab hold of. I know some people (maybe almost all people) worry about saying the wrong thing. I'm not going to lie, there are wrong things that can be said. And quite honestly, there are not that many right things that can be said, either. "Hang in there" and "It gets better" are noble sentiments, but did you know that these things are already implied by the fact that you care enough to reach out in the first place? No words are eloquent enough to say more than that mere gesture of reaching out.

To those of you who have done so, who continue to do so, or who will do so, we owe you undying gratitude. Those you help in the future will thank you as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Hi, it's Reed again.

Here's another snapshot from Jack's Camp (for pediatric brain tumor families) in October. I am just so struck, more and more, by every picture of Carmen I see, by how beautiful she is, and how relatively unaffected by her illness she seems to be. I love her so much.

Last week was so beautiful. My insides were tied up in knots as we drove to the public viewing on Thursday, but as soon as I stepped into the viewing room, I had such a sweet peaceful feeling that just stayed with us for the rest of the week (even when we were a bit nervous). Each one of you that came to the public viewing, the family events, and the memorial service, and up to greet us after the memorial service, brought us so much joy amid our sorrow. We thank all of you for every effort you made to attend the services. Every effort made a difference to us.

Some of you have asked to get a copy of a song or remarks from the memorial service. We would like to post this material in its entirety but are not quite sure how to do that. We will talk to someone who knows how to do that stuff and see what we can come up with.

Today was a special day in its own right. We feel like God is gently nudging us to move forward. It's a new month, and the beautiful rainfall seemed to be a bittersweet combination of mourning and cleansing. We went to Palo Alto today to witness the blessing of our baby niece. She was born the same weekend we found out Carmen was terminal. Her parents chose to name her Abigail Carmen. I don't think we are imagining things, sensing God's hand in the timing. By the way, our Sunday School class today was taught by Steve Young (yes, that Steve Young), who is a marvelously articulate and thoughtful speaker. So that was a nice treat too.

We sense that many of you have been staying away out of respect for all we had to deal with last week. If any of you are inclined to visit at any time, please come. We would love to talk with you about Carmen and about the events of the past week. We will be healing from these wounds for a long time, and we know many of you will be as well. We know that for the most part we all need to return to our normal lives, but closure is a slow process, so please don't leave anything unsaid that needs to be said.

In that spirit, we are very much looking forward to the ice cream social this Thursday. We will enjoy associating with you and talking with you at greater length. We respect and appreciate all the gifts you have given us. You have helped us so much. We do want to emphasize that we feel the time has definitely come to shift our gift-giving focus to others in greater need. Please be thoughtful and prayerful in your giving, and we feel that you will be led to give in ways that will be most pleasing to God, and to Carmen.

I wanted to share one more thing. On Friday at the graveside service, we chose to stay and observe as they lowered Carmen's body into the ground. As the cemetery workers slowly and reverently moved the casket to its resting place, the little children in attendance came forward and quietly watched the descent. I thought of the parallels between this spontaneous scene, and Carmen's baptism less than 6 months earlier. It was a sacred moment.

Timothy (our 5-year-old) and I were talking tonight about how one day God will fix Carmen's body and she will be able to move back in. "Will He fix her hair too?" he asked me.

What a beautiful thing is the mind of a child.