Tag Archives: Mother’s Day Reflections



Somehow, I learned that when Justin died it was the day that the world changed not just for us but for many. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years and counting that our precious son Justin – our young Renaissance man left this earth. We all remember what we were doing at the time kind of a similar shock to when the attacks of 9-11 hit or the assassinations of JFK and MLK— but this time it was my boy wonder who was a mere 16!! However, I must say that I smile sometimes because Justin’s character and mission for world peace ripples have crossed the waters.

“It was the 22 of February

The day I’ll always Remember

You see that was the day that my baby died.”

Over the years I have been able to put pieces of his last hours together. And now on this Mother’s Day I am happy to report that Justin was  indeed LOVING LIFE!

  • He called me about an hour before he actually died. He was happy he was seemingly healthy we did not know he had a heart condition. He was in his element. He told me he was bringing Molly to Pasadena so they could go to see her Moms production of Hair Spray. He had been campaigning for his school to do a  stage production more relevant and diverse. He often laughed out loud hearing his favorite Theatre teacher Reese Pugh — who was not as familiar with the show. He called “Hair Spray” “Hair Gel”. lol The next year with Reese at the helm, the high school cast lived out Justin’s dream.

So after Justin finished school that day…

  • His friend told me that they were in the theatre talking for a few hours . He told her that she should go ahead and write that children’s book she always dreamed of doing and that should not be a failure in the eyes of her parents!!! He assured her that it was possible she could live her life just the way she planned because “ My parents let me do the things I like to do.” Justin was living his best life and also encouraging his friends to do the same.
  • He had been secretly video recording Birthday greetings for Chanell with her with his school mates and teachers and choir director ” Rodger ” as the kids fondly called him behind his back
  • He was excited that he would be a guest dancer in 8  parts of the upcoming show.
  • Poolside he was singing one of his favorite Beyonce’s song with his girl Chanell “ End of Time”  OMG!!!!!

End of Time


…“Take, you away, from here
It’s nothing between us but space, and time
I’ll be your own little star, let me shine you up
Or your own little universe make me your girl”…

He met his teammate Nina for the first time that day… She later found the words and shared her story to us and said that Justin taught her how to dance like nobody is watching…

He was happy.  He was “ Loving Life”

Justin’s littlest cousins were just 2, 2 ,7  and 12 at the time. In their own way, they carry their big cousin Juju with them. Kids grieve too you know so never discount them. They know when familiar things change.

  • JJ who at 8 years old now plays his sports like he is a Junior Olympic style athlete and he wants to wear Justin’s favorite number on his football jersey. My sisters say that JJ rolls his eyes and moves out furniture to flips cartwheels– just as Justin did… Justin was a Junior Olympic Swimmer you know…
Justin and his little cousins

  • Dashton is the builder- the Methodical thinker and the swimmer. He can still say Juju’s name with a BIG smile without any hesitation.
  • Mia ,the dancer, and artist is quiet and growing up fast. She still seems unsure of how to face the loss of her favorite cousin Juju who used to dance, sing , play and draw with her.
  • Dylan is making her mark taking care of business in high school and being a good friend. I’m sure she would allow only her cousin Justin to drive her fresh new car.
  • Justin’s older Cousins  Christianna, Burly, Cam, Pita, and Beina are all doing good by adding to the family tree, teaching and coaching others who need it the most, helping underserved students, and just being the best mentors that they could be.

I hope the two littlest cousins Bo and Hendrix whom he never got the chance to meet, learn a bit about their cousin Juju in the days and years to come. I see Hendrix knows all about the JCWWP luggage tags that have made their way around the world.

I think Justin made his mark and had spread his wings worldwide on so many levels. Some of his peers choose a different route besides college and that is perfectly ok because we are all not the same and everyone has their unique passions. I choose happiness vs. prestigue.

Post College Graduation Justin’s peers are doing their thing:

  • Working in the Visual & Performing Arts
  • Writing & Creating music and films
  • Working casual jobs, for non-profits, social justice, underserved populations, in all areas across the spectrum including teaching and working on Wall Street
  • In Graduate Schools
  • One of his” world traveler” friends continues to make her mark around the world helping others. She was the Rhode Scholar candidate for her university!!!! So proud of her!!
  • One young man who heard Justin’s story now is preparing himself to attend Medical School to become a cardiologist.
  • Another young lady is teaching 4th-grade students. She includes social justice in her curriculum- you see you are never too young to learn right from wrong we are the mirrors of the children.
  • His Best Friends are in law school
  • Butterflies are a part of my life the color turquoise will shield me in some way and my mothering instincts will never ever leave me. I recently read that Duchess Megan wore a turquoise necklace when the world met baby Archie for peace and tranquility. I like that choice!!


Justin’s absence does make the heart grief founder.

Darrell starts one project after another and continues to work in his garden.

Honoring his love of his only son through the art that he creates- art… especially what he gave me last night.

Today I played Natalie Coles Song ” I MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY” forJustin and some of the words I can definitely relate.

“I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy
Ever since you went away, every hour of every day
I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy
No matter what I say or do, there’s just no getting over you”

Love you the talented Darrell always Justin’s Dad and for taking thousands of pictures and as this collage shows every picture tells a story!

I was wondering what Darrell Carr was working on these past 4 days.Well last night he surprised me with his crown jewel piece of art. He told me “ I did not know what to get you so I made this… I cried many a night looking at all these pictures of our son we created. “ I was on the floor – again and not holding back any tears and neither was Darrell. He said” I wanted to blend Justin’s picture into his piece of art, that’s the butterfly that flew on your finger in Costa Rico and all of these are pictures I took over the years. You are Justin Carr World-Peace mom!”


A few weeks ago my local style ” Marie Kondo- the organizer Connie who was introduced to me by Jeru (the connector) is a true delight as she helped me clear my brain. She is spunky, fast and non- judgemental. 

She held my hand when I found some hidden treasures tucked away. My heart skipped a beat when my eyes viewed the party drawer with the GI Joe and Harry Potter cake pans and the abundance of Bday cake candles, Easter egg kits, pumpkin carving tools, and Justin’s popcorn boxes from parties. But I hit the floor when I found a ceramic vase that Justin made I think in 8th grade because it profoundly said:


One thing I know for certain is that Justin did “ Love Life” this is the greatest gift of all. Remember- you should too. You never know what tomorrow will bring so, make that cake and be sure to eat it too!

I think that is what he would want me to do today is to “Love Life”

Happy Mother’s Day to any women with a heart who dare to love and help a child. My thoughts for the readers today…Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the flowers.

Love Life, Love your Family and Friends and spend time with those who are important to you. And Don’t forget to teach the children well. You are the mirrors for how they learn and live.

Justin, I love you forever and will miss you always and I am glad I have been gifted the chance to be your Mother, Mom, and Crazy Over the Top Olivia (OTTO) Forever and Daddy and I will continue to fight on!

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)

IMG_9788 copy








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

groupsingbeach copy


(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.

IMG_3958 copy


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)

JCWWP_Logo_with_Butterfly_II_copy copy





happy to see the sun cr