Leaving Lexington

Driving through the rolling hills of Lexington, I left your hometown today with a very heavy heart.  I glanced in the rear view mirror occasionally, looking back on Rt. 11 and trying not to feel like I was somehow leaving you behind.  No longer was I surrounded by the masses of the people who came out yesterday to celebrate your life.  I was alone with my thoughts, and I wept as the finality of your passing crept up on me and slowly settled into an empty space in my heart.

As the miles passed, I channeled your strength, knowing well and good that you would cringe at the thought of me mourning your physical absence from this Earth.  I recently told you that when I was faced with difficult decisions, you often sat on my shoulder as a voice of reason, as my little angel (and sometimes as my little devil!).  Today, I leave Lexington believing that you are still perched on my shoulder, donning your new and shiny angel wings just waiting for your next task.  I know there are times when you may have to leave and help the hundreds of others who will also need some “Carter advice”, and I accept that.  If I have learned anything new this week it’s that your love was never spread thin among your friends, but was surely spread far and wide.  No one ever got a watered down version of you, Pal.  What an amazing legacy to leave behind.

What happened in Lexington yesterday was nothing short of amazing.  Now I didn’t count heads, but would describe your service as “Standing Room Only”.  Packed into the pews like sardines and lining the walls, we listened to story after story of true friendship and brotherhood told by those who loved you.  In your wildest dreams did you imagine having such an overwhelming impact on so many lives?  Carter, you were truly sent from heaven to bless us with your unconditional love, even for just a short while.  I am sure your family knew that you were a loyal and thoughtful man who valued his friends, but I am not quite sure they knew the extent of your love and loyalty to so many of us who considered you a best friend.

The celebration that followed your service went off without a hitch and in true “Carter style”.  Friends and family poured into the banquet room at the Holiday Inn (which by the way I know you are now singing “Hotel, Motel…Holiday Innnnn!” and laughing).  We laughed, sang, drank, hugged, cried, danced, and shared stories that will continue to leave us completely amazed by the man you were.  Thankfully, though temporary, the pain I had been experiencing over the past week subsided as I reconnected with old friends and created connections with new ones.  It felt so easy and natural to bond over our love and admiration for you.  But that was all part of your master plan, wasn’t it?  If I were to imagine it, I could just see you saying to yourself, “Hmmm, how should I live my life?  Oh I know!  I am going to throw myself completely into the task of filling the lives of my family and friends with laughter, love and compassion.  I will instill in each and every one of them the hope for a better and brighter tomorrow, help to heal their pain, and teach them to see the goodness and blessings in life.  Once I am gone, they will all come together to carry on my teachings and take care of one another.”  Come to think of it CC, your life of selflessness and love bears a striking resemblance to that of a humble carpenter who also left this world around the age of 33.  What an interesting coincidence.

As dusk turned into dawn, the celebration slowly wound down.  I fell fast asleep still reeling over losing you, but uplifted by the gifts you left behind.  I have to be honest, the events of the past week have left me mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.  But in my weakest state, I was able to leave Lexington, reflect on what happened there, and find a renewed outlook on the best way to move forward from here.  I refuse to live my life without you in it, CC.  I know you will be there to rejoice in my successes and lift me up when I fail.  You will laugh along side me, and dry my tears.  I know you will be with me always.  In exchange for your undying love and support, I will live my life with your love in my heart and carry on your legacy to the best of my ability here on Earth.  I will call on you from time to time to help me stay patient and focus on the blessing I have in life, rather than what might be missing.  And I will always remember when you told me, “If I can see happiness in your future…you should too!”  The celebration in Lexington may have ended, but I will continue to celebrate and honor your life until we meet again.  I love you CC.

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December 30, 2009. Tags: , , , . Friends.

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