She was our gift from God in 1995. A dimpled cheek and a wide smile that captured our hearts from her first breath on, she was our “march to a different drummer” child. When all the other children in her kindergarten class were told to clean up toys and come to the carpet for story time, Carmen calmly told her teacher, “You may go do story time, but I’m not finished playing at the house centre.” She refused to budge. It was the first of many calls I got from her teachers throughout her school years. She wasn’t rebellious per se, she just didn’t see the need to do things in proper sequence. She saw the world through a different filter than any one else. Filled with creativity and wonder, she didn’t accept the world as is, but filled with a myriad of delights that went beyond imagination.
One morning while eating her breakfast cereal, she suddenly gasped, “Mommy, look out the window, Mommy! Didn’t God paint the most beautiful sunrise for us this morning, Mommy?”
She was our accident-prone child. Our family doctor would answer the phone, “What’s Carmen done now?” before I even had said “Hello”. Stitches, two broken collar bones, two bouts of chicken pox, face plants, skinned knees, burns…she forced us to keep a first aid kit close at hand as she was growing up.
A heart as “big as Texas”, a friend said to me once, Carmen’s heart overflowed with compassion for the underdogs of society. She’d weep for the hurt, the broken, the outcasts. It was never a surprise to me that she naturally attracted friends to her. They loved hanging out with a girl who made them laugh at her wild antics, and be cheered by her smile and zest for life.
She always had a knack for reaching and understanding the babies and preschoolers in church. From the time she was able to serve in the nursery, she would be found with little ones hanging off of her and surrounded by them everywhere she went.
She was always vulnerable to those who wanted to break her spirit, those who didn’t understand her joy for life. She couldn’t understand the cruelties of life, it didn’t mesh with her positivity and sunshiny disposition. She cried when people were unfair to her. She rejoiced when a broken relationship was healed. She laughed every single day and we laughed with her. I found it most fitting when she chose her life verse from Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
My husband says that Carmen and I are “one and the same”. It’s perhaps the prime reason I have always felt so overly protective of my free-spirited child. I would see her making the same decisions (and mistakes) as I made and I felt I should always guard her to keep her from making some of the poor decisions I made when I was a teenager. I’ll admit there have been battles between us that no one has won. There have also been those times of pure joy, a mother’s pride in the accomplishment of a girl who sees the glass always half full and walks with fearless determination through life wanting to experience all that life has to offer. She is my baby. She is my joy. She will graduate today and I don’t know how I will hold all my emotions in check as I watch her walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma.
God has always had a plan and a purpose for our girl. He’s gifted her in so many, many ways. She is in the process of discovering God’s plan, and we’re even more determined to be her cheering section throughout this process as she makes important decisions for her future. Today however, we’ll applaud with tears in our eyes, remembering the precious child she was, and be extra-proud of the beautiful young woman she is.
Happy Graduation Day, Carmen! We love you!