At the Hands of Fate

by Carolyn on March 26, 2010

You choose your friends, not your family.

But there are times, rare and unique times when we do get to choose our family.  The most significant example of this of course, is when we choose to marry someone thereby creating our own family.  Another example can be found through the adoption of a child.  But there is a more subtle example that’s been profoundly significant to my life, and that is the addition of Godparents.

To say that I love my Godparents would be an understatement.  I don’t even know if there are words to express the love I feel for them or the impact they have had on my life.  They have taught me by their own example about the meaning of family, love, relationships, philanthropy, values and unpretentiousness.  And despite anything my parents might have done wrong in my childhood, they can both be proud of their choice.  The choice to make those two people an indelible part of my family.

Here they are:

But I always remember them more like this:

They were our neighbors and they were my parent’s best friends.  And although today we only see each other about once a year, when we get together it feels like we’ve never been apart.  I love them.  I love them to the moon and back.  And whether they know it or not, they have had a strong hand in defining my life.

As you can imagine, those are pretty big ‘Godparent’ shoes to fill.

And to be honest, I started thinking about choosing Godparents shortly after I conceived my son.  It was a very significant decision for me.  Who would we choose to become our son’s family?

For me, the biblical aspect of the job wasn’t what I would base my selection on.  What I wanted for my son were mentors.  People he could confide in when he couldn’t confide in my husband or me.  People he could turn to, count on, and be loved by.  People who would have a hand in guiding him, not just in his journey of faith but in his journey of life.  People who had lived and who were strong.  Strong enough to tell him when they thought he was making mistakes and strong enough to tell me and my husband when they thought we were making mistakes.  People who would have a deep interest in him and his success as a human being.

Friends who would be willing to become family.

I talked to my husband.  We didn’t have a ‘couple’ in mind who we wanted to ask.  No best friends living next door that Nolan could toddle back and forth between.  So I suggested this: that we each pick a good friend.  We would choose people who were independent and strong individuals.  People who were younger than us. People who we loved and who loved us back.  People who we would be honored to have cemented in Nolan’s life.

I knew immediately who I wanted to be Nolan’s Godmother.  My friend Debbie, who had never given up on me in the first few weeks after I’d given birth.  Debbie, who called me over and over even though I never called her back.  Who came over and watched tv with me because I couldn’t leave the house.  Debbie, who was nearly just as excited as I was when she found out I was pregnant.  My choice was easy.

But my husband struggled with his choice.  You see, he is one of the connected ones and he has so many friends.  So many people who love him.  We had a number of conversations about it and in the end he decided to ask his friend John (or JP as we call him).

At eight years his junior, my husband coached JP in football.   They had been close friends ever since.  JP would always swing by to say hi.  He always wanted to show Steve his new toys.  A man both big in stature and personality, JP would always look over at me and wink when Steve would get lost on a tangent.

And then there was the day we brought Nolan home from the hospital.  After hosting family almost all day, I was dead on my feet when the phone rang.  It was JP asking if he and his brother could come over to meet Nolan and bring him a small gift.  I couldn’t say no, and I remember being struck for days by how important it was to this young man to come over as soon as he could, to meet my husband’s son.  He was eager to hold Nolan and greeted our two day old infant (both then and each time after) with a cheery “What’s up!”

When I think of Nolan’s Godparents, who are uniquely not a couple, I will always remember this day.  The day my husband and I were given the gift of choosing our family.

It breaks my heart to write that this week JP was diagnosed with cancer.  And the battle’s been lost before it even began.  He’s dying.  Most likely within the next few days.  And although the trajectory of his life in the last couple of years took him away from our family, I always knew in my heart that someday he would come back to us and take the place that would always be saved for him in our hearts.  That he would be everything I knew he wanted to be for our son.  Unfortunately as it turns out, I was wrong.  One of the biggest gifts my husband and I have ever given two people, that relationship between a Godfather and Godson that we had so many hopes and dreams for, is being stolen from them by the hands of fate.

To say we are devastated would be an understatement.

I’ll be around and eventually I’ll be back.  But right now every time I sit down to write, this is the only post I produce.  And in honor of our friend and family, please, remember to embrace your todays.  Because you never really know how many tomorrows you’ll have.

Edited to add:  In loving memory of John Paul Renaud who passed away on March 27, 2010 at 31 years of age.  A cherished friend and Godfather, JP will forever live in our hearts.  And JP?  I hope you don’t think that dying is getting you out of your Godfather duties.  Because our guardian angel demands have just gone up exponentially!


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March 28, 2010 at 12:38 am

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tammy March 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Know that all of you are in our thoughts and prayers. Call if you need anything.


2 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Thanks Tammy. I will.


3 Jill March 26, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I am so sorry Caroline. My heart goes out to your family. Thinking of you.


4 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Thanks Jill, I appreciate it.


5 Liz March 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Please know you are surrounded by support (even from afar) and love as you and your family begin to cope with this. I can firsthand tell you that cancer has take one of the most important people in my life away from me and now my dad (3rd diagnosis in ONE year) is about to undergo another surgery. It is so tiring and it just breaks my heart to have to see him go through this! I’m thinking of you…
.-= Liz´s last blog ..Sunny Bug is Born =-.


6 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:02 pm

As I am thinking of you, Liz.


7 Urchin March 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

This is such a wonderful way to honor JP and the legacy of love he provided your family. I find myself crying for someone I have never met because, reading your words, I’m aware of what a loss this is for your family.

Please, take your time. We will be here for you.


8 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thank you Urchin.


9 steve March 27, 2010 at 12:14 am

I could never put into words how I am feeling right now, but I thank you for this post because I had given up on nolan’s godfather, I still remember the last time I tried to contact JP and never recieved a responce. I thought that I had done something wrong or offended him in some way, but now I know he just needed some time away. So now I sit and wonder how will we ever replace him……..who could we ever find that could snore as loud as JP ? Snore so loud that I pulled out the video camera because it was so loud , and we were laughing so hard. That memory will be forever engraved in my mind. There are many others that for now are with me and JP. God bless my friend, and take care of him.


10 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:09 pm

There will be no replacing him, we’ll just have to keep remembering him and all those fun memories we have of him. And besides, I’m almost positive that nobody snores as loudly as him anyway! We are definitely going to have to find that footage and savor it over a bottle of wine. Maybe the next time Debbie’s in town.

God bless him indeed. And he’d better take good care of him. I’ll be checking when I get there.


11 Theta Mom March 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Carolyn – This is so heart breaking. That relationship you had so many hopes for IS being stolen from them – by the hands of fate. I am so sorry to hear about this news…

Thinking of you
.-= Theta Mom´s last blog ..Barbar Review and Giveaway =-.


12 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thank you Heather.


13 WhiteSockGirl aka The Fabulous Bitch March 28, 2010 at 6:59 am

I wish I have words to make you feel better,.. my heart goes out to you and your family. I do wish your strenght during this time. You are in my prayers.
.-= WhiteSockGirl aka The Fabulous Bitch´s last blog ..A Story for Every Picture: Swept Away =-.


14 Carolyn April 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

Holey moley White Sock Girl! For some strange reason Akismet threw your comment in the spam folder. Usually I just bulk delete the thing but for some reason I went threw it tonight and there you are! Very strange. I’ll have to look more carefully from now on.

Thank you so much for your condolences. It’s been a tough week around here. We are trying to look at the positive side, that he’s not suffering. But it’s still hard.


15 Holly Ann March 28, 2010 at 11:49 am

There really are no words… you will be in my thoughts… i am terribly, terribly sorry…


16 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thank you Holly.


17 Devan @ Accustomed Chaos March 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

I am So sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your family
.-= Devan @ Accustomed Chaos´s last blog ..Coming Out of Winter Hibernation! =-.


18 Carolyn March 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Thank you Devan.


19 Debbie Brockway March 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm

My dear friend,

Simply put, your words brought tears to my eyes. Today is a sad day for us all as we say not “good-bye” but “see you later” to JP. I am saddened that I am not there to hold my god-son’s hand and give him a hug on this somber day but as you so eloquently put it, JP is not gone from our lives but has simply made a transition to becoming Nolan’s Guardian Angel.

He will always hold a special place in our hearts.

I feel so truly blessed to be a part of your family and am forever grateful that you saw in me the qualities you wanted in your children’s godmother. My cup runneth over.

Love always,


20 Carolyn March 31, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Thank you Debbie, such beautiful words. I can’t wait to see you this weekend.


21 Sandie Lee March 31, 2010 at 7:20 am

So sad. My thoughts are with you.
.-= Sandie Lee´s last blog ..Separation Anxiety in Dogs – Part Two =-.


22 Carolyn March 31, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Thank you Sandie.


23 Sal March 31, 2010 at 10:37 am

Dear Carolyn – So sorry to hear this!

I read your post initially with a big smile on my face which turned to a chuckle seeing the “then and now” pictures of you with your godparents (loved the fashions back then). Then reading on about your son’s christening just filled me with a lovely feeling. Your whole philospohy on choosing godparents really resonates with me and from the photos you’d chosen cracking godparents – what lovely smiles and expressions they’ve got!

But, oh dear, when reading on I couldn’t help shed a tear, especially your wonderful tribute to JP at the end. Such a young age to be taken, but I understand your comment about the guardian angel. I lost a good friend and mentor last year (to old age) and my biggest comfort is that she’s still my guardian angel. She and I lived on opposite sides of the earth (literally) and I sometimes feel as if she’s closer now.

Anyway, my heart goes out to you now. I know our circumstances are different but I can relate to so many of your posts. For this one, I’ve gone through a whole spectrum of emotions in the space of five minutes.

Take care


24 Carolyn March 31, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thank you so much, Sal. You got everything I hoped people would from this post. I’m trying hard to feel the emotions and not squell them, which is my natural instinct. I instinctively try to portray strong and untouchable, but when I do that I’m the one that loses out on everything. These emotions are hard but at the same time I think they’re a sign of something good.


25 Sal April 1, 2010 at 5:30 am

Carolyn – thanks for your response. I think there’s something good in being strong in the face of adversity and often you do need to be strong for others. But the emotions are always there and being strong on the outside can only delay things. Also if you’re being strong for everyone, sometimes others don’t realise that you need looking after, too. You take care of yourself.



26 Life with Kaishon April 1, 2010 at 12:45 am

Oh. This made my heart break a little. I am so very sorry for your loss. Very, very sorry. I will pray for your family this week. Many blessings to you.


27 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Thank you for your condolences and prayers.


28 Jill April 1, 2010 at 1:26 am

Visiting from SITS. I had to comment because my post for today is about losing my best friend 5 months ago to cancer. It also includes a video. It doesn’t make sense, does it? May you have peace knowing he is strong & healthy now.


29 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm

It does help, knowing he’s in a better place. But no, there’s no sense to it at all. I’m so sorry for your loss as well.


30 The Drama Mama April 1, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Stopping in from SITS. Your post filled me with all the of the same emotions as Sal mentioned (only better). Your tribute and dedication to him is beautiful. We lost my father in law to cancer on Christmas day, so I understand your pain. I hope someday soon, a cure for cancer will be discovered. I send you hugs and prayers and peace.
.-= The Drama Mama´s last blog ..The Drama Mama Tells All =-.


31 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Thank you for your condolences and prayers. I am also sorry for your loss. Christmas day! How sad for your family. We can only hope for a cure to come soon.


32 Mary April 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

What a lovely post. Godparents are special.
.-= Mary ´s last blog ..JENNY: Unbelievable! =-.


33 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Yes, they certainly are.


34 Eclipsed April 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I found you via SITS and I’m so very sorry for your loss and for the lost relationship between JP and your son. My daughter’s godparents aren’t a couple either, but I know she’ll form strong relationships with both of them and their families.


35 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I think it’s such a neat idea to make godparents single people (who already do or will have their own families). It increases the number of people you can add to your family significantly! I guess great minds think alike. Thank you for your condolences.


36 Melissa Russell April 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. I found this site because an old friend from grade school sent it to me. He was in a grade higher than I was. He was always in his own way nice to me. He always had a smile on his face, and even when I ran into him ten years later, still the same smile. My thoughts are with his family.


37 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm

And that’s just the way he was with people, wasn’t he? Always smiling and warm. His family is so strong. His mother especially. At the funeral, her nephew referred to her as their ‘rock’. And that’s just what she was.

Thanks for reading and sharing.


38 Angelia April 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Oh Carolyn,

Heartbreaking! I can’t imagine….but I do know his peace and memories fill every hole he left. I know his most buoyant life will live on in Nolan.

Thank you for this tribute of him. Seeing his big smile at Nolan is beautiful.

Lifting you up in prayer.
.-= Angelia´s last blog ..The Bunny Grinch that Stole Easter =-.


39 Carolyn April 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Thank you, Angelia. A couple of weeks later and I find that although life has trudged forward and gotten back into a normal routine, my thoughts still continue to slide over to him. As I’m sure they are for everyone who knew him. Thank you for your condolences and prayers.


40 Nikki April 15, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Wow, I had no idea. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. It is a tough decision on who to pick for Godparents. I often tell my parents that one of the best things they ever did for me was pick Aunt Connie and Uncle Wes to be my Godparents. I lost my Godfather in the March of 2000, right before Tom and I were married. I was always upset that he didn’t want to see my wedding dress when I visited in Florida the week before he died. Tom and I went down to visit and pick up my dress which had been sent there from Texas. He said he didn’t want to see me in it until the wedding and passed away the following week. I’m sorry he missed it, I’m sorry he missed meeting Jill and Tony, but most of all I’m sorry they missed meeting him. I’m also sorry that Nolan will miss out on getting to know JP. At the same time I believe that JP will be watching Nolan from heaven and guiding him along the path of his life. The Pilutti Family loves you all and we are sorry to hear of the devastating loss you’ve had to endure. Love you all, forever.


41 Carolyn April 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm

It all happened so fast. Steve got the call that he was sick on Tuesday and he passed away on Saturday. Everyone, his family and friends were kind of shell shocked.

You would have been so proud of Nolan. He conducted himself wonderfully at both the funeral home and service. Thanks for your support. It means a lot to all of us.


42 Lance March 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Wow, you made me tear up..


43 Sue Johnstone March 28, 2012 at 9:09 am

Wow, this is hard to read but i remember JP at Nolan’s service…amazing man!
You are so strong to be able to share your feelings with all of us…
Monday March 26th/2012 I just lost a close friend from school Crystal Cascadden who had a progressive cancer, I’m still in shock & so are all our class mates.
We have to keep the memories a live & cherish all those precious moments!
Your words to everyone on the website helped me today.
*Thanks my dear niece you have a wonderful spirit!
love Aunt Sue xo


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