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.


Merrill family said...

I love the wonderful stories of Carmen! It uplifts me and our family even though we don't live in the thick of it we have kept you in our prayers and thoughts. And hope that the next first without out Carmen physically with your family will soon to be happy ones.
lots of hugs!

Suzanne said...

I am also glad to hear more memories of Carmen and hear updates on your family. We have truly been blessed by our association with your family.
I love to hear the kids at school talk about Carmen - they miss her too. Some kids will even ask what Carmen read so they can read the same thing. I am reminded of her and her love of reading every time I put fairy books back on the shelf. I think Carmen must have read every fairy related book in the Knightsen library!
We think of you and pray for you often. If there is ever anything more we can do please let us know!

{hilary} said...

What an eloquent and heartfelt post...thinking of you as always.

brigette said...

Our little family keeps praying for yours, and hoping that you can feel some peace throughout all of this. Thanks for taking the time to share Carmen with those of us who didn't get the opportunity to know her. I just wanted you to know we're thinking about you and your family
brigette mason

Marc and Megan said...

You don't know me, but I just had to leave a note to let you know that my life has been touched by your family, especially the courage of your little Carmen. I've been inspired and strengthened as I've thought of your daughter who, at such a young age, endured so much. I can't even imagine what that was like for her or for you. I hope I can be as faithful.

My heart goes out to you as you face the days ahead. And, I just want you to know that there are "strangers" (like me) who are praying for your family and who are forever changed by your story.

All my best to you,

(If you're looking for a good book on grief, "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis is one that I found to be very comforting and insightful.)

Terri Carvajal said...

Dear Reed and Dorothy,
I hope you and the boys are finding some joyful moments during our break. The weather has been so beautiful that I hope you are enjoying the sunshine. I still think of Carmen and your family each day and I haven't taken off my bracelet since I got it. You are still in my daily thoughts and prayers. Hope to see you when we get back to school.
Love to you all,
Terri Carvajal

DeanaJ said...

We think of you guys often. I wanted to tell you how beautiful the memorial service was. I had been struggling with the unfairness of this whole situation for you guys having to face this. I was angry that people who were such great parents were having to go through so much. I have seen how you both have put your family first and sacrificed for them in many ways over the years. I was sharing my feelings with Alan and just telling him unfair it all seemed. I was asking why couldn't this happen to people who didn't love their kids so much. I know it must have been the spirit that at that moment gave me some peace and the thought came that Carmen was asked to endure so much that she needed to have the best parents that loved her and would be there for her putting her first in all of her needs. I am grateful that Carmen was blessed to have the best life and family while she was here on the earth. I know you both were truly a blessing to her as I know she was for you. I am sad for all you have been asked to give up, but know that you will be blessed for all you have done.
We are thinking of you and praying for each of you.
Trina mentioned she would love to come see you guys so we will call you in the next few weeks and see if there is a time we can stop by.

Matt Croghan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Croghan said...

Crying is a good thing. Your family is a mazing. We love you.
Matt Croghan