We are all one, we are all connected. Each of you has touched our life profoundly and we are better people for your love, strength and community.
In her five and a half years on earth, Carmen taught us more wonderful things than we ever knew possible.
Chris and I shared a thought with each other recently, if someone would have told us what the future held for us upon learning we were going to have a baby - and given us the choice to have nothing at all - or to have Carmen, the lessons, the love, the giggles and snuggles, the Leukemia diagnosis the journey through her fight and ultimately her passing....we would do it over and over again.
We are forever changed by having children, we are forever changed by receiving the first blow from her Leukemia diagnosis and now even more we are forever changed by not having our sweet girl to kiss goodnight anymore...
We are going to keep searching for the joy, strength, compassion and love which will be what we are left with.
We love you all so much and wish you much Aloha - A Hui Ho - till we meet again
(Written to greet everyone who attended the Squamish, B.C. Celebration of Life for Carmen November 9, 2012)
Below are a collections of images and highlights of Carmen's four "Celebrations of Life"
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Island of Hawaii
Monday October 15th
I would like to repeat a quote shared during the celebration by our dear friend Corey Smith. Heather and I have leaned on the wisdom of this quote several times over the last month. To us, this quote speaks volumes to how Carmen lived and how we should all live to honor her;
“The sin of inadvertence, not being alert, not quite awake, is the sin of missing the moment of life – live with unremitting alertness.”
by Joseph Campbell
Thursday October 18th
As parents, we do the best we can to make the right choices for our children. The choice that Heather and I made to send Carmen to Hualalai Acadamy has been, without a doubt, one of the best decisions we have ever made. From the day Carmen started Kindergarten in August she lit up with joy. She would wake up every day excited to see her classmates and her wonderful teachers, Ms. Flowers and Ms. Hernandez (Ms. H). And of course.....there was Oliver........Carmen's love at first sight. :-)
Though we are new to the Hualalai Academy ohana we were embraced with immediate love and support.
I recall, Ms. Flowers (Tina), sitting with me on our lanai, Monday October 15th, asking me if it would be okay if the school created a garden in honor of Carmen. In my mind and I believe most peoples mind, this garden was going to be a small, yet touching, space dedicated to Carmen.
What occurred was something very different. In just three short days, the Hualalai Academy ohana rallied their love, sweat and tears to create an amazing remembrance to Carmen. The whole experience absolutely took our breath away and we can not thank you enough for your generosity, support and love.
And most of all....thank you for embracing Trevor as an honorary Hualalai Academy student.
The memorial bench in Carmen's Garden, overlooking the K-1 classrooms
See the "Dazzle Card", hanging from the bench. Carmen 'looooved" her dazzle cards, awarded for being an exceptional little student.
Carmen's class each contributed something special for Carmen
St. Regis Princeville Resort
Wednesday October 24
Words can not adequately describe how Heather and I feel about Kauai. It has called our name twice already. We fell in love on Kauai back in 2000, moved our little family of three back to Kauai in April 2008 and welcomed our baby Trevor in July 2008. The friendships we made on Kauai will last our lifetime and who knows.....maybe three times is a charm. :-)
Carmen's Celebration took place at St. Regis Princeville Resort, attended by our closest friends. The celebration was presided over by our dear friends Coppin Colburn and Chris Spencer. It was a beautiful evening, with a gorgeous Hanalei sunset.
The ohana of St. Regis Princeville, lead by our dear friend Milton Sgarbi, bestowed an incredible honor in memory of Carmen by re-naming the beach where the ceremony took place;
In our humble opinion Leolani Cove, is the most beautiful place on the island of Kauai - which - makes it one of the most beautiful places on earth. Only fitting for our Tough Little Princess.
The stunningly beautiful view from Leolani Cove
....and last but certainly not least
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
"The Pink Hotel"
Thursday November 1st
Of all the celebrations, Heather and I agreed that this was the toughest.
As many of you remember, the Pink Hotel is where we stayed immediately following Carmen's diagnosis. During this time, as she always did, Carmen impacted the lives of so many. Each subsequent visit, was a chance for Carmen to reunite with the wonderful ambassadors of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Never in all my years working in hotels have I experienced the genuine care and devotion that the staff of Royal Hawaiian gave to Carmen.
The soul purpose of our time spent at the Royal Hawaiian was to help Carmen forget why she was in Oahu. Every opportunity was made to ensure Carmen enjoyed her "get-a-aways" with Mommy (and sometimes Daddy) to the "Pink Hotel" so that our visits to the PAU clinic were only a quick part of the visit.
A small group of dear friends gathered at sunset on the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian. After we shared memories - Heather, Trevor and myself paddled off shore in an Outrigger Canoe to spread flowers and Carmen's ashes. As we were paddling back to shore, Carmen made sure that we caught an epic wave, effortlessly propelling the canoe toward the beach in grace and style.
The trip also gave us some time to visit Carmen's favorite places at the Honolulu Zoo and Aquarium
Paddling out. That is Trevor's little head right over my shoulder
Beautiful Waikiki and Diamond Head
I would like to share a video of Carmen. It is a video from December 2011, of her dancing on a small stage in front of a full Beach Tree restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.
Although heart breaking this video helps us remember that Carmen was quite simply a beacon of love and joy. She loved unconditionally, lived life to the fullest and has earned her fairy wings.
"Twinkle Twinkle" our sweet baby. We love you Carmen