This week my daughter was teasing me about how I used to make the kids do jobs around the house when they were young, and how sometimes I checked their workmanship to make sure they had done a good job of their task.

I’m sure I felt at the time that it was important to teach the kids responsibility and that they learn to do a good job at whatever was tasked to them. And I’m sure they profited from being taught to do a good job, in the long run. Jason was a very focused and great worker. Eric and Jenna are outstanding workers.

But, looking back, I wish I had taken more moments to play with the kids instead of seeing so much through the eyes of responsibility and instruct-able moments. I would give anything to go back and just hug my kids more, read more stories, play more games. I want my kids to remember how much I loved them, and not how I was so concerned that the dust bunnies didn’t multiply.

It’s a balance, this being a parent. Those years with young kids are so full of such busy times. We are trying to instill values and life lessons for the adult they will one day be. We want them to learn early in life how to manage time and to do a job in which they can take pride. We want to teach them to be kind and caring. So many things to teach. And the next thing we know, they are gone. In my case, gone forever. Jason is gone forever.

In recently looking at photographs, I know we did a lot of fun things together. I hope Eric and Jenna – and Jason, before he died – remember more those fun things than the responsibility things. But there are no more days of playing Yahtzee or chess with Jason, no more days of going to the beach with him, no more playing volleyball in the back yard with him. I will never have a chance to do those things that Jason loved with him again…or with his kids, either, since he will never have any kids.

The day before the accident, I remember I was trying to orchestrate everyone helping get the house clean and groceries bought for the week so that we could relax and enjoy our Sunday together. It seemed so important at the time. But then Jason died in the early hours of Sunday morning. Instead of fun family time together, our nightmare had just begun. If I had known what I know now, the cleaning could have waited, not only that day, but many other days. I had a clean house for people who came by for consolation visits, and Jason had helped clean the house.

Take time to enjoy the time you have with the ones you love. Let them remember your love, kindness, empathy. Yes, teach your kids the important things, but make sure they remember the fun times and not only the chores.

© 2016 Rebecca R. Carney


Taking the time

I’ve been catching up on reading the email notifications I get from blogs I follow. I know, I know. I’ve been slacking off in both my writing AND my reading!

Anyway, I wanted to share a link to a blog I read this morning written by a man whose daughter died three years ago. Like the letter I wrote to Jason on his 19th birthday, Mr. Cartwright wrote a note to his daughter not long before she died, telling her what an amazing young woman she was.

I’m so glad I took the time to listen to that little voice “prompting” me to write that letter to Jason on the morning of his 19th birthday. He didn’t get to see his 20th birthday. The pastor read the letter as a eulogy at Jason’s memorial service.

We have to take the time to tell the people we love how much we love them and how proud we are of them when we have the chance. We have to slow down our busy lives enough to spend meaningful time and have meaningful conversations with those we love. That chance may never come again.

No guilt trip; just a friendly reminder. I’m sure we all try to do the best we can with the time and energy resources we have.

Here’s the link for Mr. Cartwright’s blog post:; and here’s the letter I wrote to Jason on his 19th birthday:

© 2013 Rebecca R. Carney

A Great Treasure

Diamond in the Rough - Photo from Wikipedia

A Great Treasure

Along the busy, dusty road of life a great and valuable treasure is lying in the road – an uncut, unpolished gem run over by the great wheels of circumstance, trampled by unheeding feet, overlooked by careless eyes.

Some have noticed it. Some have picked it up, looked at it no deeper than its dusty and unpolished exterior, deemed it of no value, and tossed it back in the dust. Some have thought they recognized value in it, compared it to other gems, and found it wanting. They decided it was of not enough brilliance to keep and that it would take too much work to bring out any beauty. They, too, tossed it back in the dusty road. Some have gone so far as to consider it valuable enough to check out a little further, and they have tucked it in a pocket for a while – only to forget about it and have it carelessly fall through a hole back underfoot on the well-trodden path.

This great treasure continues to languish on the rough and dusty path.

It has tried to catch the rays of sun, to be noticed for its own value, to reflect a brilliance it has observed in others. But it has picked up dust and dirt from the road in its crevices. It has been scuffed from the shoes that have carelessly trod on it. It has been dinged and scarred by the great wheels that have run over it.

Its great desire is to be cherished, cared for, and lovingly polished so that its true colors and brilliance can be seen. It wants to have a place of love and honor alongside other gems – gems whose intrinsic worth is valued and recognized.

Is it too great a hope that one day it may be polished and placed in its own special setting, worn to wonderful parties? How long does this great tragedy continue – that the potential of this wonderful, unique, uncut, unpolished gem be ignored? Who will take the time to find the real value in this great treasure?

I recently ran across this piece that I had written a long, long time ago. Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow – and all those ads for gifts of precious gems are everywhere –  I thought it might be a good time to share it as an encouragement to take the time to look for the value in the rough gems who may cross our paths.

There are many things I love about my husband. One of the things I love about Joe is that he is not one to place a higher value on some types of people over others. I’m talking about the artificial type of value. When Joe worked in the telecommunications industry, his territory included the major hotels in downtown Seattle. In his position, he worked with White House Communications and FBI when a president, vice president, first lady, or other dignitary came to town. He worked with the support staff for the president of South Korea. He worked on phone lines for Hollywood stars, professional athletes, and many more. The thing about Joe is that he sees value in people and treats them all with basic respect – whether it be the Hollywood star or the maid who cleans the toilet.

Jason was the same. He never knew a stranger nor met a person he didn’t like. He valued the people in his life and greatly valued his friends and family – and he showed that value by setting aside quality time to spend with them. Family and friends were important to him. He valued his friends’ parents and siblings, too, taking time to chat and honestly care about them should they answer the phone when he called. He saw the intrinsic value in people.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

Cherish the Moments

As I walk through retail or grocery stores, I am usually very aware of how parents talk to their kids. I notice the ones who lovingly pay attention to their children and speak to them respectfully. I notice the ones who are harried and (sometimes quite rudely) rush their kids along. I notice the ones who are so rude and harsh to their kids – it makes me cringe to listen to those parents. I notice the ones who are just awful to their kids – those are the ones that break my heart. Sometimes it sounds like they actually hate their kids!

I remember, when our oldest son was born, we were given a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. entitled “Children Learn What They Live With.”

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Although children make their own choices, which are sometimes outside of what the parent would wish (especially as they get older), I am a firm believer that a positively-involved parent can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Children hear our words; they see our actions and learn to emulate them. We make a difference in their lives!

More than once, I have been tempted to stop a harsh, harried, or rude parent and say, “What are you teaching your child by your words and actions? Do you realize what are you imprinting on their lives? Don’t you know what a precious gift you have? Do you realize how quickly these years go by? Would you be acting the same toward your child if you knew they could die at any time? Would you regret your words or behavior if you no longer had your child to hold close? Cherish the moments with your child! The shopping will wait; the housework will wait! Slow down and enjoy being with your precious child! This moment won’t come again.”

We’ve all been there – in a hurry, upset, impatient, mad about something. There is no perfect parent. Children aren’t perfect, either, and that can make parenting a challenge. As the saying goes: parenting is not for the faint of heart. It’s not an easy job, that’s for sure.

After children are grown and away from home, we empty-nest parents have a full realization of how quickly those growing-up years have passed, never to return, and then we wish we had them back to take our time and enjoy more. When a child has died (no matter what the age), the opportunity to spend time and cherish any moment with that child is gone. Our child is gone! All we have is memories, and perhaps regret for missed opportunities to spend time together with our child.

If I had the chance, there are so many things I would do differently. As a homeschooling parent, I probably spent more time with my kids than most. I loved it, and counted it an honor to be involved in their lives as they grew up. But, I am far from perfect, and there are times when the “should have’s” tap me on the shoulder to remind me of things I could have done better or differently. I would love to have the opportunity to spend time with Jason, to play another game of chess or Yahtzee. I would love the chance make chocolate chip cookies together, to teach Jason how to make my “famous” cinnamon rolls, or type up his homework papers as he dictated them to me (Jason’s “thinking juices” flowed best as he walked around the room and thought out loud). I would gladly hand over the keys to our new car and encourage Jason to drive it to take Alina home that night – maybe he would be alive today if he had been driving a different car. I would love to… The list goes on and on. Most of all, I would just love to have my precious boy here.

We always think there will be more time, another opportunity. Sometimes there just isn’t.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

My Teflon-coated Brain

From my journal dated November 6, 2002:

I live in a state of exhaustion. I go to bed tired. I wake up tired. I’m tired almost all day.

I have such trouble getting my mind to concentrate any more. I have a big accounting test tomorrow, and I don’t feel at all prepared. It’s like I study the material, but it slides right off…like my brain is teflon-coated right now.

I’m so used to getting things and being able to get things done when I sent my  mind to it. It’s just such a tremendous effort right now.



I had started attending Edmonds Community College in January 2002, two months before Jason died. After many years of homeschooling, I felt like I was transitioning into the next phase of my life – one where I went back to school, got more education, and got a full-time job in the field of business administration.

I am proud of the fact that, no matter how hard it was to keep going and to do anything after Jason died or how much I felt like nothing was sticking to my teflon-coated brain, I kept going to school. I was on the Dean’s List every quarter, and I graduated from Edmonds Community College with a GPA of 3.66.

I have just completed a Paralegal Certification Program through the University of Miami with a 96.67% and am studying to take the National Association of Legal Assistants exam in September of this year.

Then I just need to find a good job!!

Money, money, money, money

From my journal dated October 29, 2002:

Finances are running a low now. I have a whole different attitude toward money than I used to. It’s just a tool to take care of our family. It’s never been a huge focus for us…otherwise I would have gone to work all these years instead of homeschooling our kids.

Money can’t buy what I want most – to have Jason back. It couldn’t buy protection for him against a stupid, thoughtless, drunk driver. After that, what’s money worth? It’s less than nothing in the whole scheme of things…other than a tool.

I miss my life

From my journal dated October 7, 2002:

Is this pain every going to end? Will our house have life in it ever again?

I just don’t know if I can stand it any more. Nothing seems to be going right or getting any better. I’m just so sad today. I miss my boy so much. It’s just not right that he’s gone.

Today has been a rough day. I’m just on the verge of tears.

Sometimes it feels like my heart is in a vice, and it’s just squeezing nothing but pain out of it. Literal, physical pain.

I miss my life. I feel like I took it for granted, and now it’s gone…never to return. That’s the way I felt after the tree fell on the house in Bellevue, that I had blown it by not fully appreciating what I had at the time. Maybe that’s being too hard on myself…but now I look back and see the wasted time, the needless frustration, the focus on things that don’t even matter now.

How I wish I could go back. I’d give anything to have my Jason back!!