Monday, March 22, 2010


I've been staring at this blinking cursor for a few minutes now trying to get the jumbled thoughts in my head straightened out. I just can't seem to though. I think that is part of my problem right now. My brain won't shut off and I can't seem to organize my thoughts unless I have a specific task to do.

Get Jason off to school. Check.

Feed Hannah and Micah. Check.

Wander the house aimlessly and talk of the phone with nothing to that one down, too.

I told my friend, Jenny, that this feels like when I'm getting depressed and my medication needs adjusting. Only it doesn't need adjusting because this is real sadness, not one brought on by a chemical imbalance. And I am so very sad. Even though Mike wasn't part of my everyday life, he was part of my everyday thoughts and prayers. He is still, only now filled with regrets and sorrow.

I wish I had called. What if I had. Why didn't I. These thoughts jumble in my mind and tear me up. Nothing will bring him back. I know this. I have peace in Christ as to what happened and why and where he is now. But I still live in this fallen world and my mind keeps trying to make sense of it.

I'm not sleeping either. I know this is also normal, but it makes it even harder to function. We've also had at least one child up at night for the last month which isn't helping either. Micah and Hannah are having nightmares. Jason is too, only he isn't crawling in bed with us at 3am. I haven't been this sleep deprived since we had a newborn in the house.

I am searching for a counselor now. These last few weeks has stirred up so much in me that I know I need to get it out. Mike had been on me about doing this, but I kept putting it off. He knew it was important which is why he was seeing one as well. He'd be telling me it's about time if he was here to tell.

Micah is turning 4 two weeks from tomorrow. He wants a Star Wars party. He'll get one, too. It's just hard to fathom that Mike is going to not be there especially since he loved Star Wars so much. It will be hard to celebrate when someone is missing. But we will. Because Micah will demand it. "A cake and a party and presents, Mommy!" He's so full of joy at turning 4. My kids are a constant reminder of how life moves forward even when it feels like it's stopped.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And the world keeps turning...

Last week my world ground to a sudden and tragic halt.

This week it's starting to move again.

Regardless of my grief and everything we are dealing with now, the school year keeps moving forward. I had to reschedule a bunch of school appointments and they started again yesterday.

Jason did his pre-admission testing for the new school yesterday. It was mainly to see where he was with his language skills and see where some of his learning issues are. I think it went well, but it's so hard to know for sure.

I really liked being at the school and seeing the interactions between the staff and the kids. You can really tell a lot about a school that way. The school is putting on a play and I was able to listen to them rehearse The teachers were all excited and happy and there were still a fair number of kids there. Everyone was friendly and happy to be doing what ever it was they were doing.

So now we wait. The school is heading to spring break next week so I don't expect the admissions committee to meet until after. But at this point, we are done jumping through hoops (I hope) and just need to be patient.

My brother was really excited that we found this school for Jason and wanted him to get in. I wanted to call him last night and tell him. I couldn't though, but I know he knew.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moving forward

It's been a week now. Yesterday actually.
Everyone's gone home, back to their lives, back to their families. The world keeps spinning, but for us it still seems to stand still.
My kids are back in school, but where before I would run errands and do all those mom things I do. Now I get ready and head to my parents to help with, well, everything. We are 7 where we once were 8. There is a hole and although we rest in the arms of God through all of this, the pain still hurts.
Last week, I was the strong one. This week I find myself falling apart as soon as I finish my tasks for the day. Last night I sobbed through dinner and afterwards and sobbed some more when we brought the kids home to get ready for bed. I'll probably do the same today.
Yesterday, my parents took his cats to the vet and had them checked out. Today we are hoping they come out of his old room.
I know I have to keep moving forward and I know I will. But I'm also struggling with the day to day. I find myself hugging my kids more and reminding them how precious they are to each other.
Watching their grief has been hard. It's so very real to them, but children process it differently. Micah is in denial that Uncle Mike was his uncle. He will say he was my brother and his siblings uncle, but he keep saying, "My uncle did NOT die." I worry that someday the only memory he will hold is pictures and stories we tell.
Hannah has shut herself up a bit. She talks about it with us, but is mostly just sad and wants to cuddle with everyone. My little girl who was working so hard to be independent last week, his constantly sitting on laps and holding hands.
Jason's grief has been the hardest to watch. He's older and so we were honest about the circumstances of his death. He also asked us point blank about some particulars I hadn't wanted to share, but he demanded that truth. Those are hard conversations to have with a 10 year old. But they are necessary one. I learned of my uncle's suicide at his funeral by over hearing conversations. I didn't want that for him.
Today is another day in my new world. I know I will get through it. I know God is carrying us all. But it's strange. I'm living in a world without my Michael.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010


33 years ago, my very pregnant mother asked me if I wanted a baby brother or sister. I remember clearly telling her I wanted a little brother. Later, I joke it was because I didn't want to share my toys, but the truth was that I really wanted a brother to play with. And that's what I got. A little brother who would become my friend and ally growing up.

Michael was a wicked smart and funny man. He was generous with his time and his love. He loved his family and friends greatly, and often gave much of himself to help them. He also struggled, much like I do, with depression. It was something he was open with and his support system at home often cared for him and checked in on him during the harder times. This last 6 months were hard though. He struggled with his medication and had been on 4 different ones in 6 months. Last week, his doctor doubled his dose on the latest one he was trying. Six days later, my baby brother did something I could never imagine him doing and took his own life.

I know that it wasn't my brother who did it, but rather someone suffering from a massive chemical imbalance which separated perception from reality in his mind. We believe the downhill spiral took less than 48 hours to complete itself. Then it was over and his suffering ended.

Yesterday over 200 people came out in love, support and remembrance. We shared in our tears and our laughter as we remembered Mike. I think my brother appreciated the service we planned. One including gathering music of Weezer, Tom Petty and Queen and slide show of his life put to the music of Weird Al.

I know that someday I will see my brother again. I know that he will watch my kids grown up from heaven and watch over them. I know that with Christ, I can get through this.

But I also know that my heart is broken, that my children are crying and that my life here on earth will never be the same again.

Michael, I love you and I miss you. I'll see you again someday and when I do, know that I am not angry, I am just sad it ended too soon.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Brother

Right now it is just too difficult to write about what happened. I loved my brother and miss him with my whole heart.

Michael Carter, 33, of Toledo, and formerly of Worthington, passed away Monday, March 8, 2010. Mike was born January 25, 1977 in Columbus to Ben and Elaine (Newman) Carter. He was a 1995 graduate of Thomas Worthington High School and a graduate of Bowling Green University. For the past 10 years, Mike has been working as a Market Research Analyst for TNS in Toledo. Mike was known for his quick wit and sarcasm. He had many close friends with whom he would do anything for, and especially enjoyed spending time with his niece, nephews and friend's children. He was very caring and loving, and his generosity and big heart will always be cherished by those closest to him. Mike enjoyed playing video games with his friends, collecting comic books and action figures, and was an avid Star Wars and Boston Red Sox fan. Preceded in death by his paternal grandparents LaVerne and Ben Edwards and uncle Herbert Mullins. Michael will be missed by his parents, Elaine and Ben Carter, Jr.; sister, Jennifer (Andy) Fenner; maternal grandmother, Iris Newman; niece and nephews, Jason, Micah, and Hannah Fenner; numerous aunt, uncles, and cousins, and his cats, Hammy and Boo. A Celebration of Michael's Life will be 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13, 2010 at Sawmill Covenant Church, 8794 Big Bear Ave., in Powell, OH. Private burial at a later date in Kingwood Memorial Park. Contributions may be made in Mike's memory to Ohio's Suicide Prevention Foundation, 325 Stillman Hall, 1947 College Rd., Columbus, OH, 43210. Arrangements entrusted to SCHOEDINGER WORTHINGTON CHAPEL, (614) 848-6699. To view Mike's video tribute or offer condolences, visit

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Perfect Storm

Sometimes, when your kid has a bad day you can go back and analyze it and figure out all the places things went wrong that cause the problem.

Well, yesterday we experienced a perfect storm, Jason-style.

Because Micah is sick and Hannah is recovering, I made arrangements for Jason to walk home with the daughters of our friends. Jason has walked with them in the past on occasion and while it isn't the best situation, it works most of the time. In fact, we walked friday of last week without a single problem.

Although yesterday the fourth grade celebrated Ohio's birthday by eating lots and lots of Ohio made food. All of it contained processed sugars and chemicals. Stuff we don't feed Jason. Stuff his brain reacts, um, poorly too. In my defense, I misread the sheet and thought the party was Friday. Still, it was not a good thing for Jason.

Add to the food, changing Jason's routine. Although he is a normally flexible enough guy to handle this, routine changes do increase his anxiety.

And then, as they walked away from the school, someone hit him with a snowball. A kid who has been unkind to Jason in the past. A kid Jason who bullies him.

Jason yelled in anger and went after the kid. His friend tried to stop him by grabbing his coat, thus causing Jason to feel like he was choking. This was bad. Unbeknownst to the girl, this is a HUGE PTSD trigger for Jason. What followed was not pretty.

For the remainder of the 25 minute walk home, Jason yelled, pushed, tackled and threw snow at every kid he felt was bullying him or had in the past. The boys also yelled, pushed, tackled and threw snow at him. It appears that while Jason was the first to make thing physical, the other boys certainly played their part. It was not a good thing.

Also, remember how I talked about Jason's Autism and his inability to read situations or respond to them. Jason was yelling things that didn't even make sense, things he had heard on TV, making it funnier for the kids going after him.

When Jason did get home, I could tell something was up, but it took quite a while to decode it and get to the bottom of everything. His PTSD reaction means he only has vague images and recollections of what occurred after the coat was pulled. Of course, we were upset because he knows not to fight like that. But once we pieced everything together, we began to see things in a bit differently. In fact, it was this morning when clarity set in, that I realized while my son's response was wrong, the situation with the school has reached ridiculous proportions.

So, I started making phone calls and writing emails. I became Super Activist Mom and spent the majority of the day with a phone on my ear and a keyboard under my fingers.

I heard back from the school we are considering to learn that Jason made it to the final phase of the selection process and we should have a decision after they complete some testing and meet with the committee.

I spoke with two more Autism specific programs in town and have appointments made to tour their schools and meet with the administration.

I requested a revision on his ETR to qualify him under Autism instead of OHI so we can access more services.

I am asking that transportation be added to his IEP because he cannot travel to and from school safely like his peers.

There is a lot still pending and a lot of decisions to be made in the coming month, but at least now we have a plan.