JACKSON, MI – When she remarried last fall, Sierra Carter said it was a “beautiful coincidence” that her new last name was a tribute to her late son, Carter Buffum, who inspired so many people during his short life.
Six years after the death of Carter, who was 7 when mitochondrial disease claimed his life, Sierra said his desire to share the lessons he taught the world around him with his wide smile and eyes bruises stays strong.
She shares those lessons now in “Meet Carter,” the first in a series of children’s books depicting a real-life event with a boy named Carter meeting students in his sister’s third-grade class.
As an anxious mother unsure of how the students would receive her son during the visit, Sierra said the story was a watershed moment for her realizing the impact Carter could have in spreading a message of inclusion and acceptance by being a shining light despite a debilitating struggle. sickness.
In addition to spreading these messages, Sierra said the stories are meant to preserve Carter’s memory.
“It’s one of my favorite stories of his life,” Sierra said. “It tells this great story of how it ended and how I ended up getting such a good experience from it. From that time on, it opened my eyes to sharing Carter, talking about him, and answering those tough questions.
The book series aims to answer tough questions about death and the challenges associated with helping a loved one battle a debilitating and deadly disease, Sierra said.
This is where Carter comes in. After his death on May 19, 2016, his family continued to keep Carter’s legacy alive by supporting efforts to find a cure for mitochondrial disease.
Mitochondria are contained in all cells except red blood cells and are responsible for creating the energy needed to sustain life and sustain growth. In Carter’s case, the diseased mitochondria led to loss of motor control and led to cognitive impairment, cerebral palsy, seizures and gastrointestinal disturbances.
During Carter’s life, milestones such as his first steps inspired many, while he helped raise thousands of dollars for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and CS Mott Children’s Hospital of Ann Arbor through the through the Carter Buffum Fund. Since then, the family has held other events in Carter’s name, such as the Carter’s Voice Glow Run/Walk 5Kwho raised funds for Ike and Ella Funda charity that helps families with the cost of a child’s funeral.
When Carter was going through hospice care, Sierra said it became apparent there were no children’s books available for her younger daughters who were dedicated to tackling heavier topics like the ones she will attempt. to address in his series of books.
“One of the (books in the series) will be about Carter going to heaven and trying to give it that positive light that sometimes when somebody can’t be fixed or somebody can’t get better, sometimes the only cure for them is to go to heaven,” Sierra said. “So there will be one that will deal with this difficult topic about death, but I wanted it to be kid-friendly, of course, because this are children’s books.
Striking a balance between inspiring, child-friendly truths and the sometimes hard-to-swallow truths of the world, Sierra said, is what she hopes others will take away from stories.
“I just feel like it’s such an important thing, because death is real, whether you’re a child or an adult — it affects everyone,” she said. “I just feel like it’s really important to have those resources in books and things like that for kids too.”
Sierra said she was unsure of the scope of “The Carter Series,” but her short-term goal is to release at least three stories about the life and lessons Carter taught others.
She has already written what she considers the “conclusion” of the series which will focus on her son going to heaven called “Goodbye for now,” she said, while another story, “‘A Mother’s Love” focuses on how she processes receiving bad news about her son’s illness from the doctor.
Expanding the series to five stories, she said, will depend on how well it is received, noting that publishing books independently is an expensive business.
Documenting and blogging about her son’s illness during his lifetime came naturally to her, Sierra said. She now thinks enough time has passed to bring back those stories and the lessons Carter taught others to inspire a new generation of readers.
“The day Carter passed away, I remember thinking her story wasn’t over yet,” Sierra said. “He was such a beautiful light in life that I knew I wanted to do something to keep his legacy alive. I just knew there would be more to come.
“Meet Carter” maybe bought here on Amazon.
‘He was our little hero,’ say parents of boy who lost battle with mitochondrial disease
Jackson boy’s first steps give hope to parents in quest for cure for mitochondrial disease
Carter’s Voice: Fundraiser Aims to Support Families Affected by Child’s Death