What Matters Most – Remembering Axel Charrette

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The past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me.  The euphoric highs of hugging my children close, and the sobbing lows over a friends tragedy.

Photo via Facebook.com and Jen Charrette

Nearly two weeks ago, my online friend and blogging buddy Jen aka VeloMom lost her youngest son, 2-year-old Axel forever.  The details are horrible and tragic, and as I try to write them, my hands shake and a sob wells up in my chest.  If you want to know the story, you can read it here.  It’s funny how connected I feel to this little family I have never met.  I grieve with them and want to reach through my computer and give them all a giant hug.

Last fall, the Charrette family closed their business and sold most of their possessions and hit the road and explore together.  With their 2 kids (Kalden 7 and Axel 2) in tow, this was to be the ultimate adventure.  They have spent the last 6 months biking, hiking, and exploring the best that the US and Central America have to offer.  They were living life to the fullest.  Committing to spending time as a family and teaching their children that experiences are more important to them than possessions.  Theirs is an amazing example.

They gave up the things that most of us value the highest (house, cars, and possessions in general), and focused on getting the most out of life together.  Jen was quick to point out that theirs was not a vacation, but rather a constantly evolving family adventure.  Both Jen and her husband Randy worked digitally to support their family and it took constant work and effort to make their journey succeed.

As an outsider looking in, I admire their big jump.  Their tragedy is something that never could have been foreseen, but isn’t it amazing that for 6 months solid before this, they decided to focus on what matters most.  I think they succeeded.  In each and every picture they took, their boys are glowing, with giant smiles filling their faces.  Those are two children who know that they are loved and important!  As much as I know they just want to hold their little boy, I hope that the memories of this trip will fill their hearts with joy.

This incident has made me think and reflect on my own sweet family.  Do they know what matters to me?  Do they understand what is really important in life?

At times like this, I often find my self asking why or how could this happen.  We don’t talk about religion much here, but my thoughts on all of this cannot be separated from my faith.  At these times, I quickly realize that I don’t have the answers and that I need to fully rely on my faith in Christ.  Faith that I have a Father in Heaven who has a plan for me.  Faith that through the atonement of Christ, I can become whole.  Faith that if I am faithful in this life, I can be with my family forever.  Faith that He will give me strength to endure all things.

Axel will be remembered today at a memorial in his hometown of Ridgeway, Colorado.  A fund has been set up in his name to share his passion of biking with other kids who wouldn’t have the chance on their own.  If you would like to donate, you can send a check made out to the Axel Charrette Fund, c/o Alpine Bank, 119 Liddell Drive, Ridgway, CO 81432, or call 970-626-4100 and reference the Axel Charrette Fund.

Thank you Jen, Randy and Kalden for setting a great example and focusing on what matters most!

“If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”

President Dieter F. Utchdorf of the First Presidency of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints



  • Suzi Smart says:

    My deepest condolences to Jen and her family. I cannot image their grief in light of such tragedy.

    It reminds me that I have to love and appreciate my family each and everyday (despite the arguments and tantrums). I also need to take a page from their book and follow our dreams. It may not be easy but we only have one life to live.

    Big hugs across the internet

  • shawna says:

    inspired words! I hope many people get a chance to read this. Praying for their comfort.

  • Michelle says:

    I read of this last week and it has been with me for much of the last few days – absolutely devastating and impossible to fathom the depths into which they’ve been thrown (for me); I had been following Jen’s blog too with so much admiration for what they dis as a family which so many of us are nervous to do. Thanks for your post…

  • shawna says:

    do you mind if I use the same quote? Seems to fit perfectly with the situation and the best way to have families walk away with something positive in this whole experience.

  • Beautifully written sentiments for a tragic, tragic situation. Elder Uchtdorf is a favorite.

  • Tristen Lawrence says:

    I read this earlier and it has haunted me. I cannot believe it, you hear stories like this so often and when it becomes personal the magnitude of the horror just multiplies exponentially. Thank you for sharing, my prayers and sorrow are with this sweet family. So glad that they chose to spend the last six months of their life the way that they did, makes me feel more motivated to do what it takes to continue facilitating adventures for my family. The time we spend out together, away from home, is time that stands still and we can feel the real purpose of life. The past and present and future all come together in with a focused clarity. I’m so proud of this mom and dad for listening to their guts and making it happen for their family. They will be okay, but this is absolutely haunting. Thank you for sharing, and for your sweet message.

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