Posted by: donrhymer | February 5, 2013

Papa Bear

Carrie & Dad

So here I am, the baby of the family, and I’ve finally decided to check in (it’s taken a while for my fingers to thaw in this FREEZING weather). After two full months spent in the warmth of my cozy home (and pajamas) I now am back in Boston, finishing up my final semester of my college career and, quite frankly I have no idea how I got back here. But I find it all quite suspicious.

I mean, sure, I guess I was trying to be all brave and telling people “Oh sure, I’ll go back and graduate, make him proud”, but to be quite honest, I’m not sure I had any intention of actually coming back. It felt like this far off thing that I couldn’t possibly have to face anytime soon. And then Christmas, and New Years came and went and the holidays were over. Next thing I know I am on a plane to Boston (a rather nice flight actually, just over 4 hours and no one in the middle seat – plus extra legroom) and here I am. I just finished my first week of my last semester of college.

It’s been a good few weeks, exciting, but busy as I have work from last semester to make up. Harder than that though, has been not being able to pick up the phone and tell my dad about my new classes, projects and teachers. I had an audition last week, for an Emerson Stage show and it was the first audition in my life that I couldn’t call to hear his voice before, urging me on, telling me to “relax and let it fly” and after, hearing the pride in his voice no matter how it went. I’ve wanted to call him every single day, but the ache of that is slightly eased by all the times I have felt his presence this week.

I walked into my first class feeling nervous and all too vulnerable. I immediately was sandwiched in a giant hug between two of my dearest friends in the theater program. Shortly thereafter we were doing introductions in my Humans Rights class; the intro game involved us holding a small globe and saying the following statement:

“If I had the world in my hands and could change one thing it would be….”

The ball was then passed to my friend Brooke, who without knowing any of these details about my father’s last instructions to our family said:

“If I had the world in my hands I would make it so that everyone would focus on the good.

The ball was passed to me and I said something about ensuring illness and suffering wouldn’t exist. As I said this, my other friend, Becca, gently reached over and took my hand in hers; she gave me a squeeze of encouragement, reminding me of the love and support I have here. At this moment, I looked down at our hands. Her fingernails were painted the most beautiful shade of blue – Dodger blue; the exact color and brand that I had painted on my nails the morning of November 28th while I held my father’s hands in mine as my whole world changed.

I am still scared and I still wake up some mornings thinking I’d really rather not be in Boston and feeling as though I couldn’t possibly get through the day ahead. Thus far, I have been able to combat those feelings because I believe, deep in my heart, that he wants me here. And he has been finding little ways to remind me of that everyday. It’s not brave if you’re not scared – right Dad?

I found out a few days ago that I got cast in the show. I couldn’t be more excited about this production and I know it will be a great experience, but when I called my mom to fill her in we both found ourselves in tears. My Papa Bear would be so unbelievably proud, and I can’t wait to keep making him proud.

This one’s for you, Dad.

– Carrie



  1. Carrie,

    You impress me everyday with your grace, resilience, and humor (which is clearly in your DNA). There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of you and your dad, and how you share that humble smile that keeps me inspired. You shared a special connection and it will continue to be with you throughout your life. Embrace all the moments he visits us here on Earth.

    Don is looking down on Boston, and I feel him everyday.

    Thank you for writing this,
    Love you to the moon


  2. Carrie, You have never met me, but I have known your parents since before you were born. Beautifully written with such Grace. Praying that you continue to see wonderful reminders of your dad each day.
    Patty Bird~

  3. Carrie,
    It was so great to hear from you and how you’re doing. It reminded me of another thing of so many things I miss with Don… hearing him talk about you.


  4. Carrie, he is more than proud–he’s elated! And he will be when your show goes up, when you receive your diploma and every time you follow your heart doing what you are gifted to do. I love what Michael said…we miss how much he loved to talk about you all! We are all in your corner rooting for ya.


  5. Carrie: I’m your next door neighbor and your Papa bear message is so touching and so very true to heart! I was a senior in college at UCSB when my mother died of cancer at 51. It’s been more than 25 years now but I can still recall my mother’s love to us. Time will pass. You will graduate, work, find your true love, get married and have children of your own. Kate will be a grandma one day and Don will always be a part of your life. Know this is true and all will be well as long as you allow it.

    Ps- Yes it’s cold in Boston but spring is right around the corner!

  6. Carrie, reading your post and feeling your strength and your love meant so much to me. I was married to your dad’s uncle Tom. Don and Tom shared the same wry sense of humor as well as other character traits. I think they were both very private about their illnesses and their pain, always most sorry for and protective of their families.

    Most of all I think of the years and lives they lived, and what was missed. Tom died at 50, after being sick off and on for four years. He spent the last three months in a surgical trauma ICU with drs cutting bits of his pancreas out each day to try and stay ahead of his disease. He has two sons; one he was able to see graduate from college, the other still in high school. He missed graduations, weddings, and grandchildren, as well as the various ups and downs of the past 15 years. We alternately all went through the various stages of grieving at our own pace. (Sometimes I find myself going back to anger more than I know I should). Above all, we feel him still with us always. He used to say “Life is an object lesson. What have you learned about life today?” He taught us alot about life’s lessons, as I know your dad did all of you. We miss them, but are oh so lucky to have had them in our lives. Karen

  7. Carrie:

    Wow. That was beautiful. And so are you. And your Mom. Your grace and courage in the midst of this is clear, consistent evidence that your Dad was one amazing person. Just look at his legacy.

    Grace and Peace

  8. Go get ’em! What’s the show? Great photo, too.

  9. Carrie, I am so proud of you….every step you take forward. Your dad was so awesome and he did a great job making sure that he passed a part of himself– his personality, humor and wisdom, to all of you kids.

    Love you, Aunt Gail

  10. Carrie, thanks for sharing your story with those you know and those of us you don’t but who love your family very much. Our prayers and support are with you as you take off and fly in this show and beyond! God bless, Todd Sedmak

  11. Carrie, Praying for you and yours everyday!! Thank you for sharing your heart!! I’ve always said that your mom and your dad are ANGELS!! I’m sure your dad is now yours!!! XOXO

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