JJ, Jensen, Juju & The Butterfly

JJ, Jensen, Juju and the Butterfly

Real Acts of Love

A Mother’s Day point of view


JJ – (Jeffrey Jr. Age 4)

Jensen – (Artist Extraordinaire—a 12th grader fulfilling one goal)

JuJu – (Justin our eternal Butterfly)

Mother ( me of course)

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The following are true ACTS of LOVE that I witnessed as a Mother on 2/22/2015—the 2ND Angel Anniversary to honor and remember Justin aka Juju—our butterfly.

For me, it was evident and the anticipation had been building up for months ever since 2/22/2013 – when the first everlasting irrevocable moments catapulted us into this whole new realm. The clock continues to click for each second, minute and hour—some leaving powerful markings, that unequivocally reveal that Justin is still inextricably linked within our everyday lives as we try and sail this ship called life.

This year—like last year we decided to have a beach celebration because of the essence that water brings —peace, beauty, calm, infinite tranquility and cathartically or prophetically speaking—water also brought much peace and joy to Justin. Hence, for me—everyday is Mother’s Day. EVERYDAY, I think of what it meant to be Justin’s Mom and how I will never let go of that honor nor give up on any of my nurturing ways. I just can’t. It is an innate quality that will never leave me. Grateful indeed that so many people young and old still take the time to pay homage to me as a Mother. So with that said, this is my story—a four ACT play…

I often ask myself and those spiritually connected: “ Will I ever see Justin again?” By the conclusion of this PLAY, the answer will be revealed…


JJ ACTS Out!!!!

A few days before the event, I received a call from my sister Jeni. She told me that she was planning to come visit for the celebration. However, her sidekick JJ (little man in charge) recently told her: “I don’t want to go to visit Auntie Susu (as he affectionately calls me) or Uncle Darrell if Juju is not going to be there!! Is he back from Heaven yet?” For days he was adamant about his decision not to travel. He sorely missed all of the playful attention that his big cousin gave to him. Like his other little cousins it is hard to conceive the magnitude of this sudden loss of his big cousin Juju… Hell, it’s hard for me.  So, Jeni started working on his psyche, and within a few days luckily he changed his mind. After picking them up from the airport JJ talked nonstop asking a million questions until we pulled up into the driveway. He quickly got quiet and peered his little (big) head over the seat in front of him to get a better view of the house.




He immediately jumped out of the car and followed Uncle Darrell inside . As he walked towards Juju’s pre-teen bedroom JJ reached for the crystal doorknob and he abruptly closed the door. He decisively looked up at Uncle Darrell saying:“ I don’t want to go in there at all!” He then walked towards the kitchen.

Later that evening, JJ came downstairs into Justin’s bachelor bedroom pad where he calmly climbed on the bed next to me. As he gazed around the room he marveled at all of the sport trophies, posters and images of Justin. Then one picture caught his attention. It was the picture Justin when he was 4 years old when  dressed up in an old mans outfit. JJ climbed on me to get a closer look then he smiled laughing cheerfully saying:

“ Look at Juju when he was a baby” ha ha ha…










Beach, Balls, Butterflies

Upon arriving at the overcast and misty beach the next morning, JJ realized that he did not have his Oregon Ducks jersey.  You see he needed his official gear to play football on the sand. He crawled in my lap and with piercing screams and tears he begged me for an hour asking me: “ Please Auntie lets go back and get it.” I told him that the weather was bad, we did not have time and that he would have to play ball without the shirt. As his noise level increased, I told him that “ It is not your day! You can stay in the car if you want, but I am getting out now.” He then quickly followed. Once he hit the beach, he immediately had a new attitude. He grabbed his football, and threw it (like a pro) to anyone who would catch it as he played quarterback and made calls for the various teams he had assembled. He wore everyone out!!






jjsmileEven though the morning weather had been gloomy and raining throughout most of the city, fortunately for us IMG_3979 copyfearless warriors the rain stopped. With the beach as the backdrop, friends and family huddled together under tarps and rested on blankets. We opened up the event listening to Justin’s breathtaking version of the National Anthem,

then the HW Chamber Singers Octet sang “Psalm 8, Ms. Hall

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(Justin’s Art Teacher) remarked about how the HW community is changing for the better because of Justin—one smile at a time. Then Justin’s friend Lora remembered her chance encounter meeting him at a SDLC Diversity conference in December of  2012. She noticed him dropping back to the last position allowing 1399 other students to go ahead of him so that he could be the last one to have a quiet moment with Dr. Bernard Harris– the guest speaker who was an astronaut. I remember that night because Justin sent me a picture from the occasion.



Lora spoke about how “Through

lorahis art, writing, and vision, Justin has shown all of us that achieving world peace means bringing everyone together, like a mosaic, to create a harmonious, loving, compassionate, diverse world in which all people are valued. Watching his message of peace spread around the world–through t-shirts, luggage tags, and hashtags, I am astounded by the power of community and humbled by the prospect of world peace; all because a boy named Justin dared to dream.”




Darrell and I then shared updates of the power of love for Justin and how there are many ripple affects showing us that  his legacy will continue on through the ages.


A variety of butterflies were released, one by one into the chilled air-some lingering longer than others. We watched in awe as they one by one took flight soaring towards the sky. Even though it was not at all warm, the chill of the day was comforting. The group shot was magical as you can see as a sole black bird presents itself soaring over us as we looked toward the sky…




























Jensen’s Love Notes

Late last summer we were approached by one of Justin’s dear friends Jensen who wanted to do a concert in his honor on 2/22/2015.


All of the proceeds went to the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/. So grateful!!! The concert was held at the Complete Actors Place Studio—a cozy, quaint venue with cabaret seating. The interior was adorned with painted walls, and an elevated stage that showcased Justin’s eclectic collection of artwork. The environment gave you a black-box theatre feel—an appropriate space to honor our Renaissance man Justin.

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Jensen skillfully produced “ A Love Note Concert” befitting to best honor her friend Justin. As she once opted out a lead part in the play “Hairspray” she said that she would do something special to carry out his message further. She said that when she would talk with Justin “he was all about breaking stereotypes and being yourself. His life inspired me greatly; he was so versatile and intelligent and well rounded, not at all fitting into any sort of box, racial or otherwise.” I’m certain, that even though she got flack for declining an acceptance offer into an Ivy League school, Justin would concur that she made the right decision for herself to attend USC- which  offered her more options for her musical pursuits.

Jensen along with her band of brothers (including her own 7th grade brother Holden) and two sets of her peers and their middle school aged brothers commanded the stage singing sweet sounds of music. The duets featured some smart juxtaposition, with dazzling showmanship. These confident younglings all appeared to be trained and seasoned performers and while they were on stage,  they looked entirely at home. The show was spectacular and captivated the audience. It is a good thing to say that there were many tears that paralleled the various songs.  Needless to say when Adam Yaron did a mix of “Man in the Mirror and “Change the World” I was DONE!!!  I think everyone was.  All in honor of their dear friend Justin.

I might also add that my fashionista sister Jeni noticed the butterflies that adorned Jensen’s beautiful skirt…  Jensen jammed and looked so gorgeous as always!!



I was happy to say that little JJ snapped his fingers and wiggled his feet during the whole performance. He sat quietly like  a little church mouse. Maybe he was exhausted from running up and down on the beach or maybe it was because he was resting on a full stomach!!!!

Jensen singing


Adam singing


Jensen , the performers and her family put so much time effort this was truly and ACT of love.








JJ’s Turning point

It was a whirlwind couple of days for JJ and Jeni. We were glad that they came to visit. As they were carrying their bags to the car, JJ stops to look at a huge picture of Justin in our living room and he says to me “ Auntie Susu, how come you have so many butterflies all over your house?” I said to him, “You know your cousin Juju was a swimmer and he loved doing the butterfly stroke.” JJ quickly interrupts me and says politely: “ Excuse me, my mom is taking me to swimming practice tomorrow and I will ask if they know what the butterfly is”, I said, “ That would be great JJ,”  He then places his Chirstmas picture next to Justin’s picture on the table.









As he steps outside to the porch he TURNS  to looks back in the house and says with a “Kool-Aid” smile “ Bye Auntie Susu, bye Uncle Darrell, bye Juju, bye bye butterflies…


A few days before this event, I wrote Valerie Morales—a wonderful virtual friend (because I have never met her face to face) who has touched me and Darrell’s spiritual healing in more ways than we could have ever imagined. One morning I woke up to an email from her:

On Feb 15, 2015, at 8:48 AM, Valerie wrote

Father Pedro Arrupe was a Jesuit priest of Spanish origins with a doctorate in medical ethics. He was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb fell and he survived the carnage.

Of Hiroshima, he said “it was a permanent experience outside of history engraved on my memory.” We all know what that feels like, things our mind just cannot forget or even forgive.

But, Father Arrupe was better than the rest of us. He devoted his life to helping those on the margins, the forgotten of the world.

He wrote, “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, when you know, what breaks your heart, and, what amazes you with joy a gratitude. Fall in love. Stay in love. It will decide everything.”

Since I was feeling vulnerable at the time.  I responded back to her:

Feb 15, 2015 10:37 AM, “Susan Carr” wrote:

“Valerie, It’s coming up on year 2 without my baby. I am so sad. Do you think I will ever see him again??”

On Feb 15, 2015, at 5:26 PM, Valerie Morales < wrote:

“The question: will you ever see Justin again is in some ways the wrong question to burden yourself with. It is a question you already know the answer to. There is no such reality as death. Only a changing of worlds.

The question then that presses upon your very broken heart is altogether different, wrapped as it is so tightly inside of your grief. Father, have mercy. Will I ever touch Justin again? Will I sing to him? Will I crawl into his arms and he into mine? Will I know him, the kind of knowing only mothers are responsible for because mothers are the beginning, and mothers are the middle and, cruelly, mothers are the absolute end.

I can tell you what I know to be true. I can tell you that Justin did not have a soul, he was a soul. I can tell you that Justin is inside of you. I can tell you that Justin is part of that long equation of eternal life, like your mother and father are, like you will be one of these days. I can tell you that ordinary people and extraordinary destinies link together.

I have said this before to you. If you love someone, they will leave you either they will leave you voluntary or they will leave you falling down on your knees in grief. We will be abandoned by those we love. It is the price we pay for humanity. We are here to love other people.

But, of course, no one tells you that when you push a child out into the world. No one tells you we all have a destiny and God is watching. No one says to you that some children live 90 years. Other children live 50 years. Other children live 4 years. Others live 16 years. All are lucky. All are loved by God more than they are loved by man.

No one said to you in September 1996, no one said, Susan my beloved, life isn’t going to be fair in 2013. So be careful. Be humble. No one said to you that roses bloom in spring and die in winter for a reason.

There are some things and people too beautiful and perfect for this earth. You want to see Justin, you want to see him one last time, in other words, you want a miracle. Einstein’s famous quote about miracles: live your life two ways, either that nothing is a miracle or that everything is.

See, you can’t be afraid of the light and the dark at the same time, even brokenhearted as you are. Just as you were required  to be a mother to Justin in life, you are required to be a mother to Justin in death.

This is how it works. You can’t see Justin  but because of grace he can see everything about you. He can’t feel you but because of sorrow  you can feel everything about him. It’s the great irony of presence and absence, love and death, here and gone, the beginning and end, love and endless pain.

That is what will be true on February 22 whether you believe it or not. You will feel Justin. A mother always feels her children. You will know him. A mother recognizes her children’s fingerprints. You will teach the world about him. A mother is a professor.

And when its over, when they day is finally exhausted of all of its intricacies and the concert is done, and you’ve hugged everyone there is to hug and cried rivers everywhere,  you’ll be able to say, “I am not afraid of storms, I am learning to sail my ship.”

That’s what I am trying to do is to learn a new route and sail my ship to continue to teach others all about Justin, my greatest gift as a Mother…

Today on my visit with Justin,  I had to play Molly Chapman’s “Butterfly” Song


By Molly Chapman


Each morning I would see that smile
And for a little while things would be alright

You were the best
But you didn’t know it
You’d make things better in your colorful, Bill Cosby sweaters


Cause your smile made me smile 
Your laugh made me laugh
And all those silly faces you would make in class I’m gonna miss that, I’ll miss that

You were obviously an angel
But it wasn’t your time, it wasn’t your time Why did you have to go?
You’re leaving me alone, so alone

Please come back, back come back


Butterfly, why did you have to spread your wings and fly away? It wasn’t your time
I never said goodbye
You never said goodbye

x2 Chorus

Cause your smile made me smile
Your laugh made me laugh
And all those silly faces you would make in class I’m gonna miss that, I’ll miss that

You were obviously an angel
But it wasn’t your time, it wasn’t your time Why did you have to go?
You’re leaving me alone, so alone

Please come back, back Come back

If you care to read about JJ’s first encounter  with his cousin Juju read this:





(at least for this PLAY)

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A Penny for your thoughts… A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned… Show Me the Money



On April 24, 2015 I wrote  “A penny for my thoughts”…
Show me the money!!!

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The other day the great attempt was made to figure out how much money had been collected over decades in 5 gallon water bottles. My beloved father had a few full jars stashed away in his closet. So, with the aide of my brother Gregory Toler , another helper and one of my 1/1000 of BFF Sylvia Shelby we lifted the jars up onto a chair and siphoned out the mixture of mostly pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters. It took more than 20 minutes to empty them all into a bucket. Then it took me about 25 minutes to fill the money bags provided by the only bank that will count the them. Most banks don’t do it, others offered me the papers to roll them myself. You know what I said to that. Since all of my help had left, I figured out a way to load the money and take it to the bank. I put a large empty suitcase with rollers into the car, and carried the filled bag ( approx 25lbs each) and placed them into the suitcase.





When I parked the car, it took a few tugs to pull the heavy (ass) bag out of the car OMG. I had to drag the luggage a short distance into the bank before the wheels bucked and broke… The employees came out of the office to see. They said: ” We have never seen anything like this!” The sole teller working ushered me to an area where I could pass the bags through the window. She entered the bag numbers and as the bank line grew ( with anxious customers watching) she handed me the receipts and said the money will be counted and deposited into my account in about 2 weeks.


There were a few coins left in the luggage so I let my little niece and nephew grab them.
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I told them that once the money is counted I will divide the total between all the siblings and grandkids. Including Justin (aka Juju) that’s about 20 people.


8 year old Mia said politely: ” Auntie, I hope there is thousands of dollars “as she did her division calculations in her head.




Little Dashton said ” I need lots of money to buy Legos ” So stay tuned as to what the total count is. It really does not matter.



May 6, 2015

Today, I got the count from the bank… There were 98,900 pennies or $989.00 to be exact.




With the few $1 bills that were rolled up in there we are happy to say that there was a grand total of $1000.00.  So, it looks like the siblings, spouses and grandkids will each get $50.










We will faithfully  donate Justin’s portion to his foundation to help someone else because that is what Justin and my Dad would want the most- to help others.


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Our Father knew best!!!

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“A penny saved is a penny earned.famous quote of Benjamin Franklin, the father of electricity, whom  I found out “lived his life in the spirit of a renaissance man: he was deeply interested in the world around him, and he excelled in several widely differing fields of human endeavor. ”




A Junior High school in San Francisco Benjamin Franklin is now named after my Father Burl Toler who was once a Teacher, Dean, Asst. Principal and Principal of the school.  We certainly have some big shoes to fill…

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We certainly has some big shoes to fill..

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