Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reaching Out

I think I’ve donated to a dozen charities since Carroll’s passing. Nothing like losing someone close to you to make you feel close to those that are suffering through the same ailments.

I received this video and though I don’t normally watch them because I’m running out of Kleenex, I did this one. And yes, the waterworks were on. Below is a video of a young 12 year old girl with brain cancer, Olivia Wise. She wanted to record Katy Perry’s song ‘Roar’ and someone stepped up and got her some studio time. Katy Perry has some very inspirational songs and this one is no different. There is also a link for a video reply that Katy sent to Olivia. Under the videos are links to donation pages to the Liv Wise Fund.

Donate to the Live Wise Fund.

I donated to Olivia and I’m also walking with my 34 team mates this weekend at the DFW Brain Tumor 5K Walk. If you would like to donate or walk, go to www.braintumorcommunity.org/goto/jameshpickering. If you’d like to walk you need to register before Thursday, November 7.

Katy Perry’s Video Reply

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A-Traveling We Will Go

In my last post, I spoke of dreaming about Carroll going on a trip. It’s funny how dreams work. Are they a spiritual window into the another dimension where we can speak with the afterlife or are they just the random file cards of your brain trying to straighten itself out for the next day?

Carroll’s cousin lost a close friend last week and posted about a dream that he had just recently. It was about a picnic with that friend and his family. The friend then got up as if to leave and everyone saying good-bye, then realizing that it wasn’t that kind of good-bye.

heic1012a_EDITIn my first dream, Carroll was off to New Mexico to start a new life without me. In the one I had the other night, she was going on a very long cruise. You know, in real life, Carroll loved to travel. In fact, we had just gotten back from a two week trip to visit family when she passed away. I’d like to believe from my dreams that Carroll is still traveling, but from star to star.

I miss you, Carroll.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy in New Mexico

I always thought that I would start dreaming about Carroll shortly after she passed, but I didn’t. I thought maybe I was too depressed or grieving too hard and my brain didn’t want to overload me. I always figured that dreaming was the way that the mind helped grieve.

It wasn’t until about a month ago that Lillian started dreaming of Mama. She awoke one morning with a thoughtful look on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she said “nothing.” I pushed and asked if she was thinking about Mama. She replied, “yes.” I remember her talking in her sleep, so I asked if she had dreamed of Mama and again she gave me a quiet little yeah.

“Was it a bad dream?”


“Was it a good one?”

“Yeah, it was a good one.”

This gave me a lot of relief. “Well, you know Lilly Bug, that’s Mama’s way of talking to us. She might make us remember a special time that we spent with her, or a place that we used to go. Is that what the dream was about?”

“Yeah.” Nothing more than that. She gave me a little hug and got up to start getting dressed.

She eventually told me about a week later that she had another one and it was good, too. I guess we’re doing okay.

Then I had one this last week. My first. From what I can remember of it, Carroll and I weren’t together, for whatever reason. I thought that we were getting back together and I get this letter. In the letter, it’s from someone else, I don’t know who. I get the gist from the letter that Carroll has either forgotten about me or never knew me, but she has moved to New Mexico and she’s very happy. Very strange, because we visited last New Mexico last May for the eclipse, but no mention of wanting to move there. It was always Ireland that she wanted to move to and I was 100% with her.

After thinking about it for a while and mentioning it to my sister-in-law, Maggie, we surmised this. The dream is my brain’s way of interpreting Carroll’s death. We were together, we’re not now. Carroll hasn’t forgotten me, she’s gone to heaven and by happy, it means that she doesn’t hurt anymore. And if that’s how my brain interprets it, then I’m fine with her being happy in New Mexico.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Good Night, Sweetheart. Hang up the phone.

So, it’s the middle of the night and I come across this video about Fred. Fred recently lost his wife Lorraine after 75 years of marriage. He found a songwriting contest for a local studio in the newspaper and he entered it. Though it was far from the caliber of the songs that the studio was looking for, the guys could hear Fred’s love and devotion in the words of the song and the letter he sent along with it.

She gave me 75 years of her life . . .

After posting the link, I read this article about a man and woman who were married 65 years and then passed away 11 hours apart.

If it weren't for cancer, this is how I believe Carroll and I would have been. Carroll knew within days of first dating that we would probably be together forever and that was fine to us. When we made plans for the future, there was no doubt that we would be there for the other. And this is how we would have finished our lives together; like hanging up the phone after a long late night call, "you go first," "no, you go first," but both knowing that we would see each other in a short while.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Walking With Kiwi

2011-11-05_09-20-32_398I put out a call-to-arms on my personal blog about the walk this year. This will be the first year without Kiwi. The day of the walk will come just a week over nine months from her passing. I’m not sure how I will handle it.

I’ve already failed in her last words to me. “Get healthy.” I made a promise at her memorial that I would run the 5K, but getting back to some state of normal takes a while. I have made small changes here and there, but not enough to allow me to run it. Maybe next year.

“Get healthy.” Yeah, those were her last words directly to me as we rushed to get her back home from the trip. I had made a move in my seat as I was driving and I winced due to the pain in my knee. It was loud enough to scare her out of her own pain. She grabbed my hand and between the crescendos of tumor pulsing in her head, she told me to get healthy. The girl who was passing away before my very eyes was more worried with me and my damn knee.

Yeah, that’s the kind of girl I lucked out and married. Always thinking of others, instead of herself. That’s why, even though she couldn’t make it the first year that we walked, she was there the second, then the third and last time. Knowing that she may not be around much longer, she walked because she wanted for others what she might not get; a cure. What a girl.

I ask you, dear reader, to take time to visit the Team Kiwi page. If you can walk with us, please join us, but if not, try to make a donation or, at least, spread the word about our cause. Maybe one day I’ll be able to look up to Heaven and tell that selfless girl that we made a difference.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Live Like You Were Dying

Post from Joe the Peacock (some language)

This was posted by a gentleman in response to the death of a friend's mother. A woman that he got to know late in life and wished he had spent more time getting to know. And then my response is below that. I have discovered a little too late that money doesn't matter, your work doesn't matter, and fame and fortune are just words. I have redemption in my child because I can share my life the way it was supposed to be shared with Carroll; living life to the fullest. Take those trips and I don't mean the big ones that you save up for a year. The little ones that just get you away and somewhere different. Even if it's just in the back yard away from work. But spend time with your family and friends because one day they will be gone. Love to all.

I lost my wife to brain cancer in February. A month after our daughter turned three and three days after celebrating eight wonderful years of marriage and ten and a half years of just being together. In the end, I still questioned did we spend all the time that we could have? Did we say "I love you" enough? Did I take her to all the wonderful places that we had talked and dreamed about? Sadly, we spent most of our final time talking about the imminence of death and preparing for it. When the doctors could do no more for us, we were told that we had three months. In reality, it was six weeks. My wife actually showed no outward signs of cancer for the majority of that time until the day before she died. And then she was gone. I questioned "Did I do enough to make her happy" and yet in the end her words to me were "I want YOU to be happy." We never have enough time and we will never ever do what we want or say the things that we should enough to our satisfaction in the end. But as you have stated, and the adage goes, live as if YOU were dying and treat everyone with the love that you have for them and when it is over, it will have been enough. Thank you for sharing and allowing me to share, also.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Day I Became a Dad

DSC01524-1Ah, yes, I remember it well. In a dazed and confused sort of way. Sitting in the little room by myself while they prepped Carroll for the cesarean. We had held off learning what gender the baby would be, because the both of us thought it would be wonderful to be surprised. The weeks leading up to the birth had everyone a little antsy and starting to make assumptions. “Oh, if you’re carrying the baby high, it’s going to be a boy.” If it does this it’s a girl, if it kicks a lot, it’s a boy. So much to the point that even Carroll and I started saying “he,” when referring to the baby.

So, there I was sitting in this little room with just my thoughts. If it’s a little boy, what do I teach him first. You know, beyond all that how to use the potty and don’t eat your boogers thing. Of course, there is a study out now that says that booger eating actually helps your immune system, so maybe I won’t harp on that one too much. But then I got to a point where I wondered, “What if it’s a girl? When is a good age to teach her about little boys and WHAT do I teach her?” At that precise instant, the nurse walks in and says that it’s time. Within two minutes my fears were realized and I had a baby girl staring me in the face. Well, I was staring, she didn’t have her eyes open yet. As I placed Lillian next to her Mama’s head where she could get a good look at her brand new baby girl, I looked at Carroll with fear in my eyes and said, “We’re in trouble.”

I miss you Carroll.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, My Dear Sweet Love

Carroll Head ShotI write this with tears running down my cheeks. Today is what would have been your forty-first birthday. Even as you got older, you grew more beautiful and even though cancer was taking it’s toll on your body and mind, you still held it all so gracefully. There will be get-togethers to remember you. Friends and family sharing memories, but they will not be the same because they will lack that youthful laugh and smile and the little crinkle around the corners of your eyes.

I sometimes find myself reaching out for you or looking expectantly at the door, waiting for you to make your entrance, knowing full well, that you are not here anymore. I can hear your voice. It hangs there on the wind, or on the edge of whatever other noise is being made. I’ll turn and strain to listen harder. The following silence hurts. I talk to you at night before I go to sleep. Lilly and I will say “hi” in our prayers. She will, every once in a while, just yell out, “I love you, Mommy,” especially if she’s happy about something. She asks if you will come back and I bite my lip and tell her, “no.” She will then tell me that she knows that Mama is in Heaven with Grandpa Jim, and the cats, Jade and Tigger. She’s only seen Tigger in photos. She loves to watch videos and look at photos of her and Mama. Some videos she will play over and over. She has just the hint of a smile on her lips when she does. We all have smiles when we think of you.

IMG_3500Carroll, I don’t know if this will ever end, but I pray to God that as time goes by it gets easier. You were taken from this Earth too early. We were supposed to grow old together and watch our child grow into a wonderful loving young woman. I know that she still will, but there are too many things that you were to teach her that I can’t. I know we’ll make it, but it doesn’t change the fact, that you are not here. You have to watch from the sidelines, though I’ve heard the stadium seating where you are is “heavenly.”

Sorry, I didn’t mean for this to turn into a whiney post, but I just needed to vent. I only wanted to tell you that I miss my best friend and soul mate and love to end all loves. I miss you and happy birthday. Your faithful and loving husband, James.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Love is . . .

Some, most, a few may know that Carroll was actually a natural blonde. It wasn’t a classified government secret or anything, but she was sure to never let the roots get too far out. I only saw her for a few months as a blonde in our entire ten years together. She said that it made her look washed out with her pale skin, and no amount of sun was going to darken that skin. She tried.

Growing up, I always seemed to gravitate towards blondes but somewhere out there I started dating red heads. Don’t know when, but there came a time when I could start going back over past girlfriends and there was a pattern. I never actually went out looking and said, “yep, I’m only gonna date reds!” It just happened that way. I guess, in a way, I got the girl that could meet both requirements.

Charlie Brown loves Red HeadsNeedless to say, I shed a tear for my lost Carroll when I made the mistake of checking my Facebook during lunch and found this. It’s okay. I’m smiling now.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lilly Chooses Her First Tat

Carroll's Tattoo 2Most people may not know that Carroll had a tattoo. She tells of how she tried to keep it from her father, but somehow it slipped out and the next time she called her mother, Jim, her father who was a tried-and-true upstanding Prior Marine American Dad, yells in the background, “what’s this about a tattoo?!?”

It was nothing major, by today’s standards it was a little tame. Just a celtic knot design made of cats in green ink. I don’t ever remember her saying anything about except that she liked the design like she liked cats. If anyone knows anything different, please tell me. But, she had it put on her shoulder and you could see it only if she wore spaghetti straps or tank top, which she only wore around the house.

Except for our wedding day. She thought about hiding it, but we agreed that that was not who she was, so proudly display it. Jim would make a comment or two, but he knew that if this was the worse that Carroll would ever do, then he was a winner for sure.

Fast forward to now. Lilly and I are eating pizza and watching TV. She’s really not into WRECK-IT RALPH, though it is the one they were watching at school and the one that she requested. She’ll watch WINNIE THE POOH until my stomach hurts, but that seems to be the only one she likes. So, while I’m trying to get my money’s worth, she is playing with a pack of stickers that she got over the holidays. One of them turned out to be a temporary tattoo of HELLO KITTY. Let’s just say that I, and several family members and friends, have purchased stock in this franchise by buying for Christmas and her birthday. What’s really funny is how she recognized it as a tattoo. Man, they start young. But what happened next and brought a tear to my eye was when she jumped up in my lap and asked me to help her put it on her. “Well, where do you want Daddy to put it, Lilly Bug?”

She reaches back over her right shoulder with her left hand and pats the spot, “right here, Daddy.” Exactly where Mama had her tattoo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

National Brain Tumor Society 5K 2013 Set for November 9, 2013

P1000080February 13th, 2013 was the day that we gathered and remembered the amazing woman, wife, and mother that was Carroll. I delivered her eulogy with minimal tears, how, I don’t know, and at the end, I issued a call to crowd. To most honor Carroll, go forth and give of yourself unto others. That is how best to remember her, by emulating her caring spirit. And to give them a starting point, I asked everyone present to come join us at the next Dallas-Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk.

The date has been set on the National Brain Tumor Society site, but the link for the walk has not gone live yet. It probably will not for another month or two, but in the meantime, you can mark your calendars for November 9th, 2013. It will be a Saturday and will start about 7:00 A.M. I can’t expect everyone to make it, but I can hope that we will have a great turnout and we can show people what Kiwi was all about!

I will continue to post the important stuff here for those that don’t have Facebook, but those that do can keep up with the Walk info at A Walk With Kiwi. Come join us!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


May27#70Just got back from dropping Lilly off at school and made mine & Carroll's usual morning run. Caught myself before I ordered one for her. She always got the breakfast on a bun with sausage. And no egg. I never understood that, but that's what made me love my wife. Those little things like a breakfast sandwich without the "breakfast" on it. lol I miss her bunches.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Obituary of Carroll Elizabeth Benjamin Pickering

The obituary as it should have run in the Dallas Morning News, if I had wanted to pay $725. I love my wife and her memory, but that money will go somewhere else to better honor her.

Carroll Elizabeth Benjamin Pickering, 40, left behind the pain of stage IV brain cancer that had plagued her for over two years February 3, 2013. She passed away in the comfort of her home in Dallas with family by her side. She was born May 10, 1972 in Houston, Texas.

She is preceded in death by her father, James H. Benjamin. Surviving family members are her husband, James, and daughter, Lillian, mother, Marie Bagert, and siblings Annie Irwin, Katy Benjamin, Margaret Benjamin, and Hank Benjamin. 

She was employed by Neiman Marcus for twelve years as a financial coordinator. She enjoyed traveling with her family and friends and had just completed a trip to the Hill Country and northeastern Georgia with her husband and daughter. She was an avid reader, including bedtime stories to her daughter. She loved making jewelry, cooking and baking, especially around the holidays. She actively participated the last two years of the National Brain Tumor 5K walk with the love and support of family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm, Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at Sparkman/Hillcrest Northwest Highway Chapel. The family asks, that in lieu of flowers, make a donation in Carroll's name to the National Brain Tumor Society (www.braintumor.org) or to a charity that is close to your heart.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lindy Bullock-Cox Remembered

When Carroll first got diagnosed and we started doing radiation and chemos, I found a flyer on the wall of Dr. Karen Fink's office for the National Brain Tumor Society 5K Walk and decided to join her team, Fink's Fighters. The next year, I went solo and formed up a team for Carroll called Team Kiwi, Kiwi being her nickname. For three years, my performance was compared to the leader of fund-raising and the person to beat every year. That person was Lindy Bullock-Cox. Lindy passed away three days after Carroll.

I don't know Lindy's story, for even though I watched her dollar amounts leave mine behind in the dust, I never got a chance to meet and talk to her. In fact, for the first time last September, I actually got a chance to see what she looked like.

I do know that Lindy, as well as my wife, was a fighter and will be greatly missed by her family and friends. Take time to remember Lindy and, if possible, leave a donation at www.braintumorcommunity.org/goto/teamlindylou.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tribute Page

Over the last few days, I have been overwhelmed at the outpouring of love for my wife. Actually, no, I'm not. She was an amazing woman who faced down a disease and stared it in the eye when it came time to go. She was always more worried about those around her than herself and that was the truth until the end.

We have set a time and place for remembering Carroll. This is the link to the tribute page at Sparkman-Hillcrest.

Carroll will be cremated and we will have a memorial service at Sparkman-Hillcrest Funeral Home on North West Highway in Dallas. It is Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:00 PM. We tried to pick it far enough down the calendar that people could make travel arrangements and somewhere in the day that they not have to deal with morning or evening traffic. There will be no graveside ceremony, but a marker will be placed beside her father's grave and Lilly and I will retain the ashes.

Carroll and I had discussed briefly back in December how she wanted things to go when she passed and we've tried to keep that promise. One of the things was that she wanted her life celebrated and not a lot of boo-hooing. I do the former daily, but cannot promise the second. In trying to keep with her wishes, I ask that everyone bring with them to the memorial, a favorite story that they have of Carroll and share it with me or, if you wish, with the ones that she loved and loved her. If you cannot make it, I will create a memorial page where she can be remembered and you can leave your stories and comments. I may contact you to ask for permission to read some of these at the ceremony.

There will be a get-together after the memorial, but we are wrapping up details on this as we speak, so stay tuned for more info, including the memorial page.

Again, thank you for loving her as I have.

Carroll's Passing

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my wife, Carroll. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.

After a wonderful birthday for our daughter on the 19th, Carroll, Lilly, and I took off for the Hill Country to visit family and friends. While there, Carroll noticed certain changes that encouraged her to make one last trip and that was to Georgia to visit Lilly's great-grandmother on my side of the family. From the first time they met, She and my grandmother had a close relationship. We stayed only a day due to the changes Carroll, and even I had now started to notice.

By the end of Saturday, our first leg of the trip home, Carroll exhibited signs of a stroke, but told me that she was just tired. I later realized that it was also symptomatic of the tumor progression. We left on our last leg of the journey home with Carroll in pain from excruciating head aches, and with her heavily medicated I called ahead to have Hospice care and her mother meet us at the house. 

She passed away at home late last night having finished the trip that she had started to say good bye to loved ones. Funeral arrangements have not been made yet, but will be announced as soon as they are made. If you can think of anyone that may not get this message, please feel free to pass it on in any form that is needed. Thank you for all of your support and prayers for us in the past, going forward, but especially now.

James & Lilly Pickering