Carlos Mora 8/16/39 – 6/3/2014

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-9

I shared Carlos’ passing here but couldn’t bring myself to write about it until now.  I felt like it was a goodbye that I wasn’t ready to say.  I’m still not ready to say it.  I want to cook him a meal and sit at the dining room table with him and watch his face light up in happy surprise when he likes it.  I want to hear him say “Sarita” a hundred thousand more times.  I want to see him and Lou sitting outside deeply engrossed in a conversation, knowing that they would both choose to be nowhere else in that moment.  As anyone who has lost someone knows, there are moments when it’s ok and then other moments when the finality of it all hits like a brick wall right in the face.

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-8

Carlos was with us for 18 days, a far shorter time than we expected or hoped for.  The last week he was mostly unresponsive.  But he found ways to let us know he was with us still.  And then finally, he let go.  I was in my office working, Lou was outside working on a home project.  I randomly decided to check on Carlos and found him still, not breathing.  At almost that exact moment Lou came inside, for a reason he wouldn’t understand until later.  I came into the kitchen and told him I thought that Carlos had gone, tears in my eyes.  Lou came into the room, put his head on his dad’s chest and all was quiet.  And then all of a sudden Carlos took a giant gasp of air, scaring Lou nearly to death.  He jumped back, shocked.  I burst out laughing, I couldn’t help myself.  We can picture Carlos wagging his finger at us saying “I got you”.  We held his hands, we told him we loved him, we laughed and cried.  He took one final breath and was gone, to the sound of our laughter and love.  I don’t think I could imagine a better ending to his story, it was perfect.

But I can’t say goodbye, or I won’t.  Instead I’m going to write about some of the things Carlos taught me.  That’s what he’d prefer anyway.  And of course, more of the photos from his time with us.  (There are even more on Lou’s site if you’d care to see)  Thank you again for all of the kindness during this time, it’s been such a tremendous comfort to us.  xx- Sarah  {more after the jump}

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-3

Carlos taught me that TRUE HAPPINESS LIES IN CULTIVATING GRATITUDE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE

Carlos moved from Colombia with very little and started a wildly successful company in the mortgage industry.  He was living the American dream, earning more money in a year than some people make in a lifetime.  He had multiple houses and all of the toys a man could want.  After a turn in the market things changed and he spent his fortune trying to recover.  He was unable to get back to the level of extreme wealth he experienced and eventually came to live a very simple life.  Without almost all of the creature comforts and material perks he’d grown accustomed to he adjusted, worked a variety of odd jobs, downsized almost as much as one can.  It took some time, but he settled into it and eventually he was happier than he’d ever been, he was content.  More than anything he was grateful- for his family, his modest home, the plants he tended to, the people he worked with, the simple pleasures in life.  Carlos taught me it’s not what you have, it’s what you have gratitude for.  And once you realize that, you realize that you can let go of fear, there is nothing that can happen that you can’t get through with a grateful heart.

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-4

I know that  LOVE TRANSCENDS ALL.

I used to think that death was the end, that it was a goodbye met with tears, sadness and loss.  That it was finite.  And in some ways it is all of that.  But Carlos also taught me that more than that it’s a transition from one realm to the next.  I’d heard people say that our loved ones who pass are always with us but I’ve never seen it and felt it before now.  I truly do FEEL it.  It is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING.  Carlos will always be with us, I have no doubts about that.  Watching him  let go of his physical body with so little attachment has shown me that it is only a home for his soul and spirit, that it is not him.  I can already feel him with me every minute of every day.  We feel his love surrounding us.  It sounds like a cliché, and I understand why I’d never been able to wrap my head around it before this, but it is such an amazing part of life.  It transcends faith and science and anything else that our human minds can puzzle out.  Love transcends death and life and everything in between.  It is the most pure, beautiful part of life and is equally the most pure, beautiful part of death.  Carlos left us, his love never will, and I will be eternally grateful he was able to show us that so concretely.

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-5

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-7

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-6

I know now to BE GRATEFUL FOR THE PEOPLE THAT CAUSE YOU THE MOST PAIN

Those people that hurt you, that disappoint you, that are most often at the root of your pain and suffering- Carlos taught me to be grateful for them.  He told me, “You cannot grow without adversity.  Those people are in your life to teach you things, to help you grow, to help you evolve.  Be grateful for them, they have made you who you are.”  He’s so RIGHT!  I believe we’re here on this planet to grow, to face challenges that teach us lessons that our souls need.  And these people, the ones that cause the struggle, are truly our greatest blessing.  They give us opportunity, they set us on our way to true growth.   One of my greatest struggles in life is forgiveness.  I want desperately to let things go, but my mind, my ego, has such a hard time with it.  For some reason when Carlos said that to me it just clicked.  Of course I should be grateful, which in turn is my path to forgiveness.  If I can transform my perspective from one of pain and hurt to one of gratitude I can truly let go.  It’s a choice and requires active work, but it’s my answer to letting go.

a_house_in_the_hills_carlos_mora-1

Thank you Carlos, we love you beyond measure.  You have taught us so much more than I can write here.  We’ll be taking you with us on grand adventures for the rest of our days, you live on firmly rooted in our hearts.  Love, Sarah + Lou

Post a Comment

  • (will not be published)

Reader Comments

  1. Kerri|

    This was the most lovely post – bringing tears to my eyes from all the love that you could feel from this short capture of an undoubtedly longer post that could be written. Thank you for sharing! xo

    Reply
  2. Kelly Jo|

    Thank you for sharing this Sarah. Such a wonderful way to honor someone so special. At a time of loss it can be difficult to not let the pain and hurt take over, but realizing how much love existed and still does, and the valuable things he taught you, it brings joy to my heart. What Carlos said about being grateful for the people who have caused you pain, wow. I feel a great weight has already been lifted after reading that.

    Reply
  3. Leslie|

    Absolutely beautiful. I wish I had the words to convey just how touching this post is, but I am speechless.

    Reply
  4. Emily|

    I’m very sorry for your family’s loss. This story and the photos are beyond beautiful, thank you for sharing. It’s easy to see that he was a light.

    Reply
  5. Natasha|

    Dearest Lou and Sarah….my heart is with you both. As you know my Father is in the throws of his battle with Pancreatic Cancer…
    I was born on the 18th of December – and the number 18 has held many significance for me – and so – as your Father was with you for 18 short days…I know that they were beautiful. I was told once that the number 18 signifies “life” – or “to life” in Hebrew – or as it is said “Chai”….
    Your Father lived his final days with you both – HIS “Chai”….lucky 18.
    With my deepest sympathy and love,
    Natasha

    Reply
  6. Sarah Rose|

    Such beautiful words + photographs. Your thoughts on life and death really resonated with me. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of a man who truly lived.

    Reply
  7. Corina nika|

    So heartbroken and sorry for your loss. Carlos sounds like an amazing person, you are so lucky to have spent a life with him. It sounds like the best way to go though, with family and laughter. He was and is happy, may he rest in peace

    Reply
  8. danielle|

    From The Netherlands I wish you and your family lots of strength. I also would like to thank you for this beautiful post. I lost both my parents in the past two years and your post give words to feelings I could not describe myself. I know that reading your moving story will help me to cope with the grief and pain that’s still there. I know I will be reading this post again during difficult moments. Thank you for sharing! x

    Reply
  9. Stephanie|

    So beautiful Sarah. What a great tribute to a man who lived life to the fullest, thank you for sharing what he has taught you. Being grateful can be so hard but I do think it is the key to living a happy, fulfilled life. Sending love and prayers your way.

    Reply
  10. Kerrie|

    Wow, such powerful and beautiful lessons. I’m so sorry for your loss Sarah. Carlos seems to be an extraordinary man and you bring him to life with your words. xoxo

    Reply
  11. tunie|

    The happiest and most beautiful passing I’ve seen, thank you! I wish I understood how gratitude is the path to forgiveness…gratitude for what? I can forgive any situation when I finally see that person is just being who they are, where they are and that’s ok, but surely am not ‘grateful’ for that experience other than that it’s over. Would really like to understand the gratitude part.

    Reply
  12. Erin|

    The joy you and Lou gave to Carlos during his time with you shines through so beautifully in every single one of these images. What a brave, caring selfless thing you and Lou did. It’s really beautiful and meaningful and it’s truly special that you’re sharing. It’s a testament to the grace you embody. Thinking of you and Lou during this difficult time. Hope our paths cross again sooner than latter. xx

    Reply
  13. Jenni|

    Oh, my goodness, such a beautiful-wrenching-beautiful post! We have never before crossed paths, but I followed a link to you from Chez Us. They had linked both to a breakfast taco and then to your home page for the photo credit. And I came upon this post. I am so sorry for your loss. Carlos sounds like a wise and wonderful man. I know you enriched each other’s lives.

    Reply
  14. Mariah|

    your words and pictures of Carlos and Lou are beautiful. well done Sarah. brings warmth to my heart and reminds me how I would give anything to hear my Nana say my name just one more time. XO

    Reply
  15. Lauren|

    What a beautiful tribute, to what sounds like an amazing man. You were all so lucky to have each other. xo

    Reply
  16. Hazel|

    So sorry for your loss Sarah, Your words strike such a chord with me and undoubtly anyone who has lost a loved one, Thinking of you both and sending you love xxx

    Reply
  17. Tieghan|

    Beautiful post, incredible and inspiring words. My aunt died of pancreatic cancer last year right before Christmas at way too young of and age. She left behind three kids, a husband and a huge extended family that loved her to death. Reading this post brought tears to my eyes, but in a good way. Thank you! My thoughts and prayers are with your family. Hang in there!

    Reply
  18. Luci {Luci's Morsels}|

    Sarah. I’ve been following along, sitting quietly but admiring all of your posts in the last few weeks – even the ones unrelated to Carlos, knowing that food and photography were familiar and that you were trying your best to be ‘normal.’ This is a fabulous way to share his story with us and to have something for yourself. You’re very brave for sharing and I truly appreciate that. I know he will always be with you and Lou, and you’ll remember that at the most unexpected times, I presume, just like I have with those I’ve lost. Sending love.

    Reply
  19. kelly|

    this is beautiful sarah. so sweet and touching. my thoughts are with you guys! xo

    Reply
  20. Steve|

    That was beautifully written Sarah. Carlos was clearly loved by you both, and I’m guessing by other fine folks. You gave him quite a gift in spending those precious days with him, and walking him to the gate so-to-speak. May he rest in peace. xo

    Reply
  21. kate|

    Long time reader, first time commenter– what a touching post. I lost my life-long best friend several years ago, and grief is the worst… so much love and a little bit of anger that you almost resent feeling. He sounds like a wonderful person, and what a great gift you and your husband gave him in his last days.

    Reply
  22. Talita Táiti|

    Thank you for sharing this, Sarah! For taking us along in this journey, for being so honest and inspirational. I’ve had so much loss in my life and I struggle with it every day, but reading your story and watching how you’ve coped and managed to turn a terribly painful event into something beautiful has helped me beyond words. I’m forever greatful and I wish you both all the happiness in the world.
    T

    Reply
  23. Joyce|

    Sarah, this is such a perfect post. I’m crying after reading it twice and smiling through my tears. Thank you so much for sharing. With so much love to you and Lou!

    Reply
  24. Rachel|

    Beautiful post. I actually saw you & Lou in Palm Springs watching the US/Portugal match at the pub. It was nice to see you & Lou both smile & enjoy the game. I was going to tell you how much I enjoy your blog & also to give my condolences in person. But, I didn’t want to interrupt your viewing. Thank you for your insight–especially Lou’s dad’s lesson on gratitude (so important to always keep in mind).

    Reply
    • Marji|

      There was a reason I’m ending my day reading your words today. A powerful voice that not only shares the beauty that surrounds us but the beauty within all of us. What a beautiful and moving post Sarah! Thank you for sharing Carlos’ story and reinforcing the lessons in our journey of life- forgiveness, gratitude for what you have (I know in our pursuit of happiness, sometimes the hardest thing is not about being happy but being content), and of course..the love that connects all us. Love will carry you though always. My condolences and prayers go out to your family!

      Reply
  25. Melissa|

    Such beautiful photos, beautiful memories, beautiful life. Thank you for sharing Carlos’ wisdom. You are so blessed to have his gentle spirit surrounding & guiding you. xo

    Reply
  26. Rhode Izaguirre|

    Sarah,
    I enjoyed your thoughts and photos about Carlos and the time he was with you and Lou. They were lovely thoughts and feelings, and I felt almost part of it all. Thank you for sharing something so intimate and important with us. What a wonderful way to honor someone so dear to you both.

    Rhode Izaguirre

    Reply
  27. design elements|

    so sad… so beautiful… Sending much love to you, Sarah! Sorry for my mail about the photos. I didn’t know that you and your husband had such a hard time. Warm hugs to you

    Reply
  28. Kirsten|

    This is such a lovely memorial. The things that you have learnt from Carlos are so true and I think we can all learn from those wise words, especially when it comes to appreciating what we have rather than what we think we want. I have no doubt that he will always be in your hearts.

    Reply
  29. Cadry|

    A truly beautiful post that filled my eyes with tears. This sentence particularly resonated with me, “TRUE HAPPINESS LIES IN CULTIVATING GRATITUDE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE.” Thank you for the reminder and for sharing the beauty of Carlos, his life and his wisdom. Many hugs to you.

    Reply
  30. Amanda @ A.Co est. 1984|

    What an amazing man that Carlos. Thank you for sharing this and your new found wisdom from such a wise man. It seems only someone who lived through wealth and falls like Carlos did could shed such a beautiful light on it. You can tell he was such a positive, and optimistic person and soul.

    Thinking of you, in the hard times and of course sending a BIG HUG.

    Reply
  31. Rose D'Angelo|

    Sarah & Lou, My heart is heavy for your both this morning as I read this post. Carlos taught you so much in his long life. What an absolutely beautiful soul inside and out! May you find comfort in the times you spent together and the memories you have created. May they last you a lifetime. It’s not goodbye, it’s til you all meet again. Blessings to you … ~rose

    Reply
  32. Brittni|

    I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. These photos of Carlos are such a beautiful tribute to him. Thinking of you during this difficult time.

    Reply
  33. MYRNA|

    Oh Sarah this was such a lovely post. You and Lou captured Carlos in a beautiful way. Just in pictures he seemed so at ease and at peace which is what is so touching. I am so deeply sorry for your loss thank you so much for sharing a bit of him with the rest of us.

    XX-Myrna
    Mybeatboutique.blogspot.com

    Reply
  34. Amanda|

    What a beautiful, insightful and inspiring story, Sarah. Our thoughts are with you guys! xx

    Reply
  35. Ariana|

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with Carlos. Through such pain you are able to eloquently pass on so many great lessons from Carlos that can truly help to better so many people’s lives. I feel grateful for his lessons without even knowing him. I hope that you and Lou continue to feel and radiate the Carlos’ spirit forever.

    Reply
  36. HRJF|

    Love transforms us in the most unexpected ways. Thank you for reminding me of that….Peace be with you and your family.

    Reply
  37. Pre|

    I’m so sorry for you loss. The photos that you have shared of Carlos are incredible and beautiful in so many ways. How blessed you were to spend his last days with him. Lots of love to you, Lou and the pups.

    Reply
  38. Jenna|

    I love this. Thank you so much for sharing the lessons you learned from Carlos. We can all learn from them. Best wishes to you and Lou during this time.

    Reply
  39. Dina|

    So so sorry for your family’s loss. Thank you so much for sharing your touching story and these beautiful pictures.

    Reply
  40. jenna|

    absolutely beautiful, sarah! thank you so much for sharing. carlos was lucky to have you and lou, just as much as you were to have him.

    Reply
  41. Nina|

    What beautiful words. I feel so sorry for your loss but you already have it in you to overcome it. Thank you for sharing, I wish that everyone in the wold could learn from what you wrote. Stay strong.

    Reply
  42. Ashlae|

    Big fat tears in my eyes right now. Carlos is so lucky to have spent his final days surrounded by your warm embrace. And you two, I’m sure, know that you were equally as lucky to have spent that time with him. Sending you love, light, and the happiest thoughts, lady.

    Reply
  43. Charlotte|

    This is so beautifully written, thank you for sharing. I’m sorry for your loss, thinking of you and your family. x

    Reply
  44. Rudy|

    Lou and Sarah,
    I had the distinct privilege and honor of working with Carlos at Nutrition S’Mart, the health food store I manage in Carrollwood. From the beginning, I found Carlos to project an inner peace, wisdom and humility that just drew me to him like a magnet. When we discovered we were both Catholic, it opened up our discussions to yet another level of depth as we were able to freely share our faith in God. When he got sick, he told me, “I am ready.” It was an experience I will never forget. Carlos once gave my wife and me a beautiful glass Holy Water cruet for Christmas. Ever since he left Nutrition S’Mart, every time I fill up our holy water holder at home I say a prayer for him. I would pray to St. Joseph, patron saint of a happy death. Lou and Sarah, from your beautiful chronicle of Carlos’ last days here on earth, I would dare say, “Mission Accomplished”. I have no doubt Carlos was greeted in Heaven with those words we all would long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    Reply
  45. Ellie|

    This is the first time I come across your blog, and it seems like I was meant to today. This post moved me in the simplest yet most profound way so thank you for sharing. You and your husband are indeed very fortunate to have had a man as special as Carlos in your lives, and just by reading this beautiful post he also made a mark in mine. Again, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  46. Judith Mahoney|

    I had the pleasure of working with Carlos ! He was always kind , sweet , and always ready to assist anyone in need. He was a true gentleman and loved life .He and I had many wonderful conversations about just about anything and he truly loved the Lord ! I will miss you Carlos, and I know he’s walking on streets of gold and enjoying talking with Jesus . This site is a beautiful tribute to a truly awesome man and I’m thankful to have known him ! God bless his family , he loved you dearly ! Thank you for these pictures , sincerely , Judi .

    Reply
  47. Daniel Scollan|

    Thank you for your post. Carlos was a wise man and a dear friend. I can still hear his voice. He said he was ready and that he was grateful to be given the time w/ his family. I will remember him w/ fondness.

    Reply
  48. Jay|

    Beautiful post, Sarah. Your words are very touching, and the photos convey all the love that you shared. Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments with us.

    Reply
  49. Katie|

    Thank you for sharing this. It sounds like Carlos was a very special person and will live on through your memories.

    Reply