To the Moon and Back

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)--To the moon and back. It's something many parents hear from their children. For one mom, it's meaning is out of this world.

If you've ever met Rita Carter, you'll never forget her. She's a special lady full of life in spite of some tragedies that might have left others will little hope. Losing a child didn't mean losing her spirit.

The Carter family is a fun family always laughing and joking. They cherish every second together after a tragic loss two years ago.

Rita Mocell Carter says, "She was very vibrant spiritual and fun just lived life to the fullest." She is Tekyia who died of kidney failure in 2011 after enduring 60 surgeries in her lifetime. Kiya as they called her, was just 33. She was a smart woman with two degrees. She even taught herself braille after a stroke took her eyesight. Her brothers took care of her before she died. Kiya's brother Rico Carter says, "She's with me every single day. She's like my conscience."

For her mom Kiya's death brought dark times. Rita says, "There were days I wanted to stay under the cover."

Rita waited a year to open this box with Kiya's things looking for something to wear. She didn't want Kiya's charm bracelets. That was too much to explain. She couldn't find the right thing. Rita came to work and saw something she never expected to see. It was a necklace and on it, "To the moon and back". Those were Kiya's words, "To the moon and back". They were words she wrote on every card and something she said after every phone conversation. Rita says, "As a matter of fact, the two days prior to her dying she said, 'Now I'm going to be able to love you to the heaven and back."

Rita knew that necklace spoke to her and would let Kiya live on, but it wasn't in her budget. That's where her co-workers at Salon Visage came in. Salon Visage Inventory Director Rachel Vucelich says, "We all gathered around her and said we wanted to give her something. She opened the necklace and started crying."

Rita carter says, "Everyone in that salon was crying because of the emotion and gratitude."

Those tears have turned into smiles now. Bianca Carter says, "Actually she smiles a lot more now than she did when Kiya was sick."

Now that Kiya is with her, she's brought Rita back to life. Rachel says, "To the moon and back and it really was a sign for her."

Even the family notices Rita's smiles now. Brother Cisco is finishing school, Rico comforts his mom when she needs him, and Bianca went looking online and also found a necklace that echoes Kiya's words.

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