Murdered teen's mom: 'Add love to the world'
The mother of a Roswell teenager who was murdered the day before he was set to begin his senior year at River Ridge High is asking friends and families to keep his memory alive by honoring a special wish.
Carter Davis' mother, Michele Davis, gave 11Alive a copy of the eulogy she delivered at his funeral August 4th, just days after he and Natalie Henderson were shot behind a Roswell Publix.
Life Lessons My Son Carter Davis Taught Me
By Michele Hurley Davis
"Learning to play baseball fit him like his light-tan glove--comfortable, easy, natural. He loved knowing the difference between "going to 2" or being "the cut-off" as a ball soared over his head behind 1st. "Beautiful, Carter!" was a bark his coach yelled that sprang onto his chest bouncing into my soul. The hours listening to coach commands lulled and lifted my spirits; June baseball at age six transported me beyond just the 1-week absence from school.
As summer peeked around my high school's halls, hot weather was summer’s backpack and I knew the heat was coming. Teaching is strange; we lose and gain ourselves every 9 months. This summer, seeing her pending hours as unwanted homework, I dreaded greeting her in the hall. Yet sitting in a camping chair, sweet smell of grass like basil to spaghetti, watching Carter bat, my breaths took in the aroma. I realized summer had cooked up some solace.
Rounding first, he slid into second, adjusted the batting helmet, and shot Jeremy, Melissa, and me a front-toothless grin. I should have worn my track shoes and run a lap for every smile; I too could have earned Cold Stone. What I did do was capture a few swings of the bat, throws to first--digital photos sent to grandparents not able to be there this day. An hour turned to two truly felt like twenty minutes and vanished a school year of to-do lists, grading mountains, and seemingly endless meetings.
"Mom! Mom!" I blink out of tranquility. "Bo wants to be just like me," Carter says with a shoulder swagger I've never seen. Bring up my ongoing to-do list and add: work on a little humility.
As a parent, we all have to-do lists for our children: say please and thank you, no--don’t throw the ball at your sister’s face--, no--don’t play basketball in Grammy’s house--things to make Carter the young man he became.
Family and friends, you have shaped him. We remember him because he had a 50-watt smile, but also his kindness for a quick hello in the halls to someone having a hard day. Our son wanted to be an engineer--now he’s going to build us. All this while, I thought I was teaching him, but I see that he was also teaching me.
I shared these observations with some of the River Ridge HS students and I share it with you now as well.
When I think of my son, here’s a few of my wonderful things I hope each of you will remember to do:
1st--Be expressive of your love. Each day Carter told me “I love you, mom” at least three times a day. Please remember to tell your parents you love them….Even your dads. They need to know too.
2nd--Be honest. Carter was so honorable and when he wasn’t, he would admit his wrongdoings with ease. Being sincere and honest will take you so far.
And 3rd--goes right along with the 2nd lesson. If you’re going to be honest, you better be kind--give more love to the world. Carter was passionate about sports, being lovingly called Coach Carter by his lacrosse team, but still found a way to not hurt people. Try to add more kindness to your day, your words and your actions.
A month ago, we went on the most amazing hike with my sister Melanie, and my niece Skye last week, which takes you to a Poet’s Table. Imagine bouldering up rocks and through gullies, then through a ravine to see a dinner table, chairs, and a hutch right along the cliff overlooking the South Dakota granite needles--all filled with poems, messages, thoughts, and prayers. This was Carter’s wish he left at Poet’s Table: Add more love to the world.
So today, hug each other, say prayers for one another, eat some of Carter’s favorite candies, and write a wish...for Carter, or for you...or for the world on a rock back on the tables. We will take these with us on our hike to leave blessings for Carter and others. The videos and songs will play while we celebrate Carter.
Thank you so sincerely for coming and praying for us. We will need so much more prayers and it is going to take a village. So like Carter, he learned lessons from each one of you, and if we just watch. It can be on the sidelines at sports, on a trail to a waterfall, at the counter at Walmart, we all can add more love.
The day of Carter’s death, Jeremy was telling Greta to watch and listen, that God would send us blessings from Carter. Greta wondered what the signs might be. “Dad, Greta said, “Maybe Carter will send a dog.” “Yes, I can see Carter loving that, as he sure loved to chase balls. I can see him as a hawk or an eagle, soaring high above.”
Two incredible things happened that next day. I was sharing the story to my parents, sisters, and along flies this beautiful yellow and black butterfly, right by us. Its 4 inch wings opened and closed. We all cried because we instantly remembered all the times Carter caught butterflies in his hands and the butterflies would just stay. This particular butterfly stayed for over ten minutes and we laughed and cried, got Greta and Skye, then it literally darted through the trees showing off, then circled back around to sit among us.
That night we had a vigil at Carter’s school. With family and friends surrounding a tall tree with Carter’s lacrosse picture and lacrosse players lined around his picture--all with his number over each of their hearts. My dad welcomed and thanked everyone for coming and read a beautiful tribute Melanie wrote about Carter, about faith, and about friendship. As my dad spoke a hawk, swooped in over his head screeching. It continued to squawk as it landed on the tree behind him. The hawk stayed in the tree and when my dad finished, it flew across the crowd. Greta and Skye had moved over to write chalk messages about how we will miss Carter. High school students moved over as well and added more messages. And soon came the hawk, screeching overhead with little swallows chirping behind. Since then, family and friends have seen butterflies on busy interstates, hawks in unexpected places, and full rainbows to remind us of God’s joy and our love of Carter. We hope you will add more love, and look for these blessings.
We love Carter and are so devastated, but we will carry on his wish. We will add more love as he did. Rest easy, precious Carter. We will always and forever love you!"
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Carter Davis would have been a senior at River Ridge High School in Woodstock. Henderson would have been a a senior at Roswell High School.