Why am I #ThankfulForCole

“We talk about them, because we’re proud. We talk about them, because they deserve to be remembered. We talk about them, because even though they are not physically with us, they are never far from our mind. We talk about them, because they are part of us, a part that we could never ignore or disown. We talk about them, because we love them still and always will. Forever. Nothing will change that.”- Scribbles & Crumbs

About a week ago I was asked why I was thankful for Cole and I just blanked.  Not because I couldn’t think of anything but because there are just too many moments and stories that I could share of why I am thankful for him. I’m at a loss of words right now as I walk down memory lane and stare at the only things I have left of him, pictures. I know they say pictures hold a thousand words but what I wouldn’t give to have a million more.

As most of you know (or have heard) Cole was one of a kind.  His smile and laugh were contagious and his stubbornness rivaled that of himself (side note: When asking my husband what does Cole rival in stubbornness……we realized nothing….he rivals himself for the most stubborn thing/person ever).  He was one of those people who could make you so frustrated that all you wanted to do was strangle him but then turn around and have you doubled over in laughter.  That is one of the many things that make me thankful to have a brother like Cole in my life.

I am thankful for his sarcastic sense of humor that many people had a hard time figuring out if he was serious or not.  I am thankful for his big bear hugs that always seemed to make a bad day more bearable.  I am thankful for the funny picture text messages that would always turn into who could find the funnier meme.  I am thankful that he knew all the words to the same rap song that I did so that we could jam out together on our pointless drives around town.  I am thankful for all the downtown Newnan lunch dates we shared.  I am thankful for having a brother who let me dress him up as a girl while I performed It’s a Hard Knock Life for our parents.  I could go on and on with why I am thankful for him but I feel like the most important reason why I am thankful for Cole is his passion for kindness.  He was the kid who would put his disease on the back burner to make others smile.  He was the kid who would go out on a cold night after doing hours of treatments and feed the homeless.  he is the kid who would do anything for anyone and expect nothing in return.  He is also the kid who loves with his whole heart and nothing less.

Cole and I were 7 years apart but our bond was like any typical brother and sister pair.  He would throw a metal baseball bat at my head and I would slam him head first into a wall; needless to say we loved each other a lot.  With every fight we had there were also many late night talks and dreams being planed out for our futures.  He was going to be a stay at home husband/dad (because lets be real he was going to need to marry a women who was the bread winner for his expensive tastes) and also be a hunting guide when deer and duck season came around.  I was going to work in non-profit and also do theatre on the side, but our BIG dream together was to help find a cure for CF, so that Cole (and many others) could live to see his dreams played out.  Sadly, it didn’t play out like that and I’m left living out our dream of helping to find a cure, left celebrating the finish of the movie we wrote together, and left wondering how our lives would be different with him still here.

I always seem to wonder what would he be doing right now?  How many states would he be able to say he knocked off his bucket list? How many adventures would we be planning?  How many times would I have to kill him for scaring me with a clown mask?  Would we be comfortable leaving our future children alone with him (haha maybe…..)?  How many mini Coles would be running around (Fun fact:  He wanted to name his children Sharky Croteau and Uniqua Croteau)? And last but probably the most important….Would he be proud of me?

When all these what-ifs plague my mind I always try to remember that I did get to spend an amazing seventeen years with him.  That no matter what I am thankful God chose me to be his big sister and that for 17 years he was my little Cola bug.  I love you to the moon and back forever and always Colabug!

Advertisements

I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to fall.\\ F.R.I.E.N.D.S

IMG_3960

“That’s when I realized what a true friend was. Someone who would always love you – the imperfect you, the confused you, the wrong you – because that is what people are supposed to do.” – R.J.L

It’s cliche I know but…..

When going through tragedy you really do find out who your true friends are.

They are the ones who never judge your actions and thoughts.

They are the ones who are patient with you when you can’t seem to find your way.

They are your life vest when you are struggling to keep your head above water.

And they are the ones who love you unconditionally when your world is falling apart.

So this post is a THANK YOU to all my friends who never left my side.

I love and respect y’all so much for sticking by my side through my dark days. Thank you for listening to me sob, cry and yell about how it isn’t fair. Thank you for picking up my pieces when I fell apart. Thank you for “joining me in that dark corner” with a flash light when I couldn’t see my way out. Thank you for being patience with me. Thank you for going along with my crazy ideas on how we will fight this disease. AND Thank you for loving me through it all. Without y’all I don’t know if I would be the person I am today.  I Thank you from the bottom of my heart every day for having friends (more like family) like you.

 

Love Always

 A.C.

Broken Road

BrokenRoad

“And you know what I hate the most?  I hate being looked at like I’m the disease.” -Jake (Broken Road)

I’m so excited for my other CF inspired project!  Cole and I started brainstorming and writing this probably six months (maybe a little bit longer) before he passed away, and now we are putting the finishing touches on this script!!

I remember Cole coming up to me and saying we need a new idea to tackle putting CF on the map and he had the perfect plan; a movie.  He was convinced that since I had acted throughout my high school career, we could come up with and write the perfect movie script.  Little did he know that just two days before I had a dream about the perfect climax and ending to a CF inspired movie.  From there we went on to brainstorm about characters, settings, plots and what would make this movie different from the rest.  Sadly Cole only got to help with writing about 25% of the script BUT the ideas and characters are ours together!  It took me six months after his passing to come back to this and finish what we started; after years of stress and tears we are almost done with the final draft!!!!!

About a month ago I had a private reading with some close friends to get a feel for how the dialogue flowed…..Lets just say it was a success and in a few short weeks we will have what we hope is our FINAL reading!!

As hard as it is to not have him with me for the next step of this adventure, I know he would LOVE it!

As a treat for following my blog and this new project below I have included a little/tiny summary to keep you guessing about this CF inspired movie 🙂

“Four friends embark on a road trip together in hopes of overcoming personal adversities…with a little help along the way” -Broken Road

Make sure to follow Broken Road (movie) on twitter @BrokenRoadMovie for news and upcoming events!  Also don’t forget to share ❤

 

To the one who wasn’t able to be there on our big day.

_TP_6227

“I love you past the moon; and miss you beyond the stars.” // JmStorm

To the one who wasn’t able to be there on our special day.

As you get older you start to realize not everyone you love is going to live to see all your special milestones.  Some wont make it to your first birthday, first day of school, your first dance, your first heartbreak, your graduation, your first “big girl/boy” job, your wedding, your first house, your first child and so on and so forth.  Its depressing and it hurts but you learn it’s the facts of life.

BUT all I can say was it was never supposed to be you.

_TP_5850 (2)

You were suppose to be laughing at all the throw back pictures of us on the slide show Tyler’s parents put together.  You were suppose to be making all the groomsmen laugh while y’all drank a little too much before groomsmen group pictures.   You were suppose to be at the end of the aisle standing by Tyler while dad and mom gave me away.  You were suppose to be the one to make jokes and tell sweet stories during our wedding to make everyone laugh and cry.  You were suppose to pronounce us husband and wife and make gagging sounds when you said he could kiss his bride. You were suppose to dance the night away with me under the stars to a rap song that we knew every word to.  You were suppose to be there encouraging Ty to shove wedding cake in my face and cheer when he did it.  You were also supposed to send us off on our new adventure as husband and wife.

I should be looking through all our wedding pictures and seeing your smiling face, but all I have is a beautiful picture of a cross necklace with your ashes inside.

I remember telling you randomly while we drove down the road that Tyler and I wanted you to marry us.  You were so excited and said you already knew the embarrassing stories you were going to tell.  Who would have thought 3 years later you wouldn’t be standing at the end; that instead a close friend helped us with a special ceremony to honor you so that I could say you were a big part of our special day.  That instead of those embarrassing stories; mom, dad and Mimi present Tyler with a necklace I had yet to wear because it held your ashes and that was to final.  When Tyler put it around my neck that was to symbolize you giving me away, at that moment I broke down.

I realized you weren’t going to be the one to make jokes and tell sweet stories during our wedding to make everyone laugh and cry.  You weren’t going to pronounce us husband and wife. You weren’t going to be dancing the night away with me under the stars to a rap song that we knew every word to.  You weren’t going to be sending us off on our new adventure as husband and wife.  It broke my heart, on the happiest day of my life a tiny piece was missing…..You.

BUT in that same depressing thought I knew you were there, maybe not in person but in spirit.  You were always there; when Tyler picked out my ring, when he proposed at your memorial run, when we got married in the Catholic church and when we got married later that week under the tree.  You made my wedding so special and filled with love without even being there and for that I thank you.

I miss you more than words can say but I know you will always be with me on some of my biggest milestones and achievements throughout my life.  Thank you for showing me the love that has helped me love my husband through my darkest days.

I love you Colabug to the moon and back forever and always ❤

_TP_6506

Photography by: Abigail Thomas @ A Thomas Photography

 

Anything is POSSIBLE if you’ve got enough NERVE // J.K. Rowling

image

Ft. above

“When the fear takes you down. When the doubt takes you under. When you sink like a stone, and you can’t breathe. When the tears take control. When the demons take over. Won’t be in this alone, you got me.” // Gavin Degraw

I know it has been a while since I have blogged, so I thought I could write about something a little different to get me back into the blogging spirit!  I also had a SPECIAL guest joining the blog today (no peaking)!

Today’s post is about all the amazing celebrities and athletes that took time out of their busy schedule to make sure the kids time at CHOA was a little brighter!  One of the only things Cole looked forward to when in the hospital was seeing which star would be visiting Ryan Seacrest’s radio station that week. Throughout his many years of being stuck in the hospital due to his CF, he met some really amazing athletes and celebrities!

Some of my favorite stories come from the days where he met these stars!  Here are a few stories that will make you laugh and smile.  I’ll give you a hint too who our special guest is (cough, cough) they are in one of these three stories 🙂

I remember getting a text message on July 27th 2013 from one of my close friends, her exact words were “Your brother is famous!!”  Attached to that text message was a picture from Ryan Seacrest’s instagram page, in the picture was Ryan Seacrest and a little girl with the caption “Great meeting Ashlan, @coltonmoorethecanersurvivor, and @colecroteau at @childrensatl today!”  I was shocked (well I mean not really…) here is this guy who is a well known Tv and radio personality giving a shout out to Cole! Cole told us how awesome it was to meet someone that you see on tv every week who is so down to earth in real life.  He gained a few more cool points from me after that 😉

Fun fact: Each year Chick-Fil-A and CHOA team up and send one of the teams participating in the bowl game to Egleston and the other team to Scottish Rite, so that they can visit the kids that are currently stuck in the hospital over the Christmas and New Years holiday.  This is were he met some of the players from the Texas A&M team.  He gushed about how awesome all the guys were and how he has some new friends who are going to the NFL.  After hanging with all the guys, one of the players was interviewed for their hometown news.  After the segment was aired in Texas we were contacted by them to say that a family saw Cole’s story being talked about by one of the players and wanted to give him the 4 tickets that they could not use that year at the bowl game! Cole was so excited because not only was he getting out of the hospital before New Years BUT he also got to watch his new friends play Duke University!

Last but not least here is one of my favorite stories!  Cole had been in love with Jana Kramer since he heard one of her first songs on the radio.  So when he found out she would be in the studio on May 22nd, 2014 he was first in line!  He told me he was star struck when she walked through the door to sit down and start the interview.  Cole being Cole wanted to remember the moment that he heard her sing live,  in that video she sang “Why Ya Wanna” and we were shocked once he sent it to us!  During the video you can see her looking in his general direction (she was singing to ALL the kids) but when she got to the lyrics that said “I wish ya had on sunglasses, To cover up those blue eyes” she points to him and said ‘you have the bluest eyes’ ( we have the video somewhere).  At that moment he was in heaven, he got to take a sweet picture with her and blushed when she said that if she was younger she totally would have asked him out ❤  He talked about that meeting for months!

If you scroll down you can FINALLY see who I was lucky enough to interview! (drum roll please)

image

Josh and Cole!

“Aim for Heaven and you get earth thrown in, aim for earth and you get neither.” // C.S. Lewis

So if you haven’t already skipped to the end to see who my special guest is prepared to be jealous!  Meet Josh Lambo, he is the kicker of the San Diego Chargers.  He was also a goalie on the U17 & U21 US mens World Cup team and the kicker for Texas A&M (War Eagle all the way but we did cheer for him a few time…..).

Cole met Josh at CHOA December 27th 2013.  Josh and his Texas A&M teammates were in Atlanta for that years Chick-Fil-A bowl (they won that year!) If you read above you can guess where  Cole’s friendship with a future NFL kicker began!  So without further adieu here is the much anticipated interview:

How did you meet Cole?                                                                                                                              Josh: I met Cole when we were visiting Egleston.  I remember sitting down and talking to him about a bunch of different things.  We were suppose to get up and go to other tables but I remember just sitting there talking to him the whole time.

Did you know what Cystic Fibrosis was before you met Cole?                                                      I knew of it but I did’t really know anything about it. I knew it was something people could have but I did’t know the effects of it.

Was there anything that you took away from meeting Cole?
His ambition. How he was still in school and all the things he was doing with Cole’s Commanders made me think well what am I doing with my life? This kid had limited time out of the hospital but from what I knew he made the most out of all that time, and he utilized it, not just for himself but also to help other people. I just thought that was really really powerful. That with the little bit of freedom he had, a lot of it was helping other people. That was very very admirable.

Besides CF what did y’all talk about?
We talked about football and just chit chatted like “Hey man how are you doing today? What’s happening? What’s going on this week?” I tried to encourage him about what was going on but more often it was the other way around. I was trying to get him to a game and that is how I sort of found out. Your dad had called me, he was suppose to come to our opener in 2014 which was my Senior year of college. Our opener was at South Carolina, I had tickets reserved for him but I think your dad had told me he had to go back in to the hospital and couldn’t make it. Then they were going to come to the Alabama game later on in the season. I was leaving that Thursday practice and your dad had called me to tell me, I had to pull over on the side of the road. That moment was super hard for me because I was super excited to see him again.

Anything else you want to say?
I still think of him a bunch. I have defiantly told other people about him about how cool of a dude he was. He had an infectious spirit, he was just a cool kid. The biggest thing I could remember about him was he had this confidence and this swagger. He didn’t act like he was in a hospital or that he had anything wrong, he was just cool and one of the guys. Im honored to call him my friend and proud to have known him, and he is definitely not going to be anyone I’ll ever know again.

I want to thank every celebrity and athlete who Cole got to meet while in the hospital, each and every one of them touch his life one way or another.  Especially the guy above,  we can not thank you enough for being an amazing friend to Cole and making him feel truly special.   As Cole’s older sister I am so happy he got to experience so much in his young life.  I am so happy he got to LIVE!

I hope you enjoyed and as always dream BIG ❤

AC

How the men of ΣΑΕ became apart of my family!

IMG_0535

“That’s all a man can hope for during his lifetime – to set an example – and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history.” //William McKinley

For as long as I remember Cole had always wanted to be apart of a brotherhood. Somewhere where he would feel like a normal college student.  We always knew he would join a fraternity; He always talked about it, he dressed like one all the time AND he even had his twitter username set as @Frattildeath at one time (we laughed at him a lot).  He knew that he was going to be apart of one, no matter what it took!

Before I really start this heart warming story I need to tell you, Cole had never been to hangout with a fraternity before he was 15.  He didn’t know exactly what it entailed just what he saw on tv or heard about from others.  One of those people was my wonderful boyfriend Tyler!  Tyler was like the OLDER brother Cole never had.  In those eight years they formed a bond that only they understood.  They  were both sarcastic jokesters that loved sports and the outdoors!  Tyler was actually the person who took him to his first ever fraternity hang out on MLK day.

Tyler and Cole

The first time Cole met the boys of SAE (at Southern Poly Tech or now Kennesaw State) he instantly felt at home.  All I heard on the way home is how awesome they were and how that is the fraternity that he wanted to be apart of.   From that moment on Cole kept in touch with them over social media and the phone.  A few of the guys even came to help us out at the Cole’s Commanders Golf Tournament the fist year (and all the years following).  Cole even went back up to the house to hangout with them, even though Tyler had class.  Over the next couple of years Cole bonded with one guy in particular (well besides Tyler and Nolen).  Adam Lowe became one of Cole’s best friends and older brothers.

On the day of Cole’s passing not only did I have my wonderful boyfriend to lean on but also our best friend Nolen (also an SAE).  Nolen and Tyler called Adam to inform him of his passing, he in turn got a few of the brothers together and drove 45 min so they could show their support to my family.  They also drove the hour to our hometown just to attend his funeral.

Over the next couple of months they were always helping out in one way or another. Whether it was just a text of support or putting a fundraiser together in his name to give to our foundation.  They showed my family what it means to be a “True Gentlemen” and we will forever be thankful for them!

In late August Adam asked Tyler and me to dinner.  At this dinner he told us how much he and the fraternity cared about Cole and how he always felt like a brother.  He then told us that because of this he had been working on getting Cole initiated as a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.  With this honor Cole is one of only two people to be posthumously initiated. On September 27, 2015 (the day before the year anniversary of Cole’s passing) Cole became a brother of SAE!

It’s hard for me to express just how grateful I am to the men of SAE. Their generosity and selflessness is truly one of a kind. So I would like to say thank you….Thank you everyone from SAE who has been there for me and my family.  Thank you for your continued fight for a cure.  AND thank you for making my brother’s dream of becoming apart of not just any brotherhood but this brotherhood.  I know he is smiling down from heaven wishing yall an amazing founders day!

So now I would like to wish yall a happy founders day. Keep up the amazing work!

Let New Adventures Begin!

image

The world is BIG and I want to have a good look at it before it gets DARK. \\ John Muir

As I reflect on 2015 I look back and see it was filled with many highs and some lows.

This year was the first year we had to celebrate Cole’s (18th) birthday without him here on earth.

We also had to deal with knowing that it has been a whole year without hearing his laugh or seeing his contagious smile.

But between all of my mini break downs and missing him; I realized that he was still there with me throughout all my high points too.

He was there when I decided to make a bucket list to all 50 states to honor his dream of travel.  He was there when I also stepped out of my comfort zone to begin writing this blog about new adventures and living with a brother who had CF.

He was there when we celebrated my adventure partner and other half graduating from college AND getting his dream job!  Plus he was there when Tyler and me took the next step towards our future and moved into our first place together.

He was there when I was nominated for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 2015 Peachtree Society.  Where I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people and raise money for the cause so close to my heart!

And he was there when I went back to the place where we lost him, for the first time in over a year, just so I could give joy to kids who were stuck in the hospital for Christmas.

His love still shines on me every morning when I wake up; because of that no matter how many times I stumble Cole will always be by my side laughing at me while helping to pick me up!


This year continued to show me what true love and friendship really is, and I couldn’t ask  for better people to surround myself with in this journey I call life.  Thank you for everything you have done to make this past year a little easier to handle.

I can’t wait to see where this year take me and I can’t wait to share this Journey with you! Here’s to amazing friends and new ADVENTURES!

As always DREAM big!

AC