Carmen, you are a bright, beautiful, young woman bursting into the world. You are an amazing daughter, sister, and friend. You fill our lives with loving memories that we will always cherish. You are a gift from God and into His arms you return. May His divine embrace now hug you where we cannot. We love and miss you dearly.

- Written by Carmen's uncle and godfather 

Carmen's Story

Our beautiful daughter Carmen was born on February 21, 2001. Carmen was born in Hollywood, FL at the same hospital her dad had been born many years before. Carmen was a c-section baby and wanted to come out breach, but luckily, Carmen entered this world a healthy baby. Her mom was amazing and did great as well. As with all babies, we were excited and scared all at the same time. She was already perfect to us in our eyes, but our hopes and dreams for Carmen were just beginning. 

As an infant, Carmen was a great child. She ate well, she slept will, she grew well. Like all our kids she was a 'chart topper' for size and weight and was healthy and happy. Like most babies, though, Carmen had razor sharp fingernails, which she liked to use on her mother when feeding. April could routinely be heard letting out a startled and painful wail as Carmen dug her razors into her. Being a saint, however, April would simply tell Carmen to stop doing that, hold held her hand, and sing her a song.     

All that eating and sleeping as a baby made for an energetic toddler. Carmen was an incredibly curious baby who needed to investigate everything. Once she learned to crawl and then walk, the world was ripe for discovery. Her passion for new discoveries meant that April and I were always on the watch for were she was. Fortunately for us, though, Carmen listened well and would generally comply if we told her something was off limits. Like all kids, some time manual intervention was required. 


During her toddler years Carmen followed Robert everywhere he went and wanted to do everything Robert did. This was the start of a life long sibling rivalry to out do one another. As parents it was amazing to see them battle for supremacy, a battle of the Titans, since both were gifted in various ways. No matter what the competition, though, Robert and Carmen were inseparable during this time and Carmen looked up to her big brother. 

Carmen continued to grow into a beautiful young girl, always following along with Robert, always smiling, always laughing. Her curiosity remained unabated and constantly asked questions. Why and How where her two favorite words. Surprisingly observant, Carmen would shock her mom and me with the wisdom of youth. 

During this time, Robert was also getting ready to enter school and April was teaching him how to read. As usual, Carmen always wanted to do what Robert was doing and would hang around April and Bobby and intently listen as April instructed Bobby. Little did we know how intently she was paying attention till one day when Carmen was 3 her mom saw her reading a book. It was a book that April had never read to Carmen, so she assumed Carmen was just looking at the pictures, until Carmen came over and asked her mom for help figuring out a word. Shocked, April asked Carmen to read what she thought it said and Carmen started reading the story to her. Thus started Carmen's life long love of reading and books. A love that lasted her entire short life.  

Carmen also started at daycare with Ms. Kim at this time. Ms. Kim ran a daycare at the school April worked in at that time, Bethune Elementary in Hollywood.  

Carmen entered elementary school at Hollywood Central Elementary in Hollywood, FL. This was the same elementary school that I had gone to as a child almost 30 years before. Carmen entered Mrs. Boccuzzi's kindergarten class and thrived. Carmen loved her teacher and Mrs. Boccuzzi loved Carmen. Mrs. Boccuzzi always looked for ways to keep Carmen challenged academically, which was no small task. Carmen was quite advanced for her age. Years later, at Carmen's viewing after her death, Mrs. Boccuzzi brought a small tag with her that Carmen had made many years before as a student in her class. Mrs. Boccuzzi told us she had kept this tag because she was always amazed by everything that Carmen did. Things like teaching herself to write in cursive, or attempt to use commas. Mrs. Buoccuzzi said she kept the tag because she knew Carmen would do amazing things one day. Probably more importantly, though, Mrs. Boccuzzi help Carmen blossom in personality and become a little social butterfly. Carmen loved everything about going to school and was always happy after coming home for the day. 

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© 2018 Philip Schentrup