You can’t fool the youth of today…for Zach

My kids never really swore in front of me. I don’t swear all that much. Sometimes, when I’m pretty angry. But not often. I wouldn’t let Chris play music with profanity so I could hear it. Not my thing. 

And because Chris was passionate about his beliefs, and he might say the same about me, we would argue sometimes, especially about the f-word.  He would say I gave power to the word by not using it and I would say it was more powerful when l used it because l only used it on rare occasions. I’m sure Chris swore when he was with his friends, but there is not much swearing in his poetry. 

(We were at a youth and family gathering once at Camp Amnicon when Chris was in junior high. I went to check on the kids all hanging out for ages in the sauna. Just as I opened the door, Chris blurts out to another kid, “Shut the f$%^ up.” To be fair, this was a kid that could be annoying. The kids all looked at me and I looked at Chris and just shook my head. And another friend said, “Nice, Chris.” And I shut the door and I’ve laughed every time I’ve told that story because it was so unexpected and he was so embarrassed. 

Now since Chris disappeared, I have mostly tried to hold on to things that bring me some little bits of piece. My activism has basically been reduced to listening with sadness at healthcare being cut, people being deported, others dying from overdoses and suicide, the dismantling of environmental protections and what I see as an erosion of the already fragile rights of many in our society. 

I haven’t been able to “go there” yet. When things get too argumentative the little bit I listen to the radio or when I see things on Facebook, I have to tube out. And I so want to be there, but as another activist friend of mine recently wrote to me… baby steps. If I don’t take care of myself now I’ll never be able to be there for others. Feels selfish though I know it’s what I have to do. 

So I haven’t posted yet some of the, what I might call edgier poetry that Chris wrote. But today I’m taking a baby step because Chris’s friend Zach and his family are suffering, along with other families across this nation, because of a gross injustice. And so tonight I share a little bit of what I think Chris might share with his friends if he were still physically with us. 

This first poem is a critique of our society. Chris used to say to me that my generation really messed things up for his, and he was probably right annoy that in a lot of ways. 

Chris recognised the injustices of our world. He had to learn about the privileges afforded to him because of his gender, class and skin color. But he was, indeed, learning. And like so many of his generation, he put his body on the line to walk with those who are oppressed and suffer more injustices than he did, because in the end we did suffer some injustice. (I’ve written some about this previously and I’m sure I will again).

These pictures are from the Climate March in NYC after which Chris became a vegetarian because of you’re going to march you have to change things in your own life, too, and from some marches around Minneapolis..

With Zach at the Climate March, 2014

He was so hopeful as he was on his way:

And right now, it’s hard to carry this optimism.  It’s sometimes hard to remember that it just starts with a few. And right now, I know that my community is holding me up and they’re showing up where I can’t. And Zach’s community is fueling him with love right now, too. 

Some who have been blinded are starting to wake up. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. And that light is love and hope and solidarity and faith, even when it’s hard to see or feel or believe. 

But I truly believe that love is revolutionary. By love we cannot fail. 

Peace. 

How can this be?

A relative was killed by a police officer last night in Minneapolis. Chris’s really, really good friend’s step-mom called 911 last night because she thought someone was in distress and now she is dead. 

Read a report here

And I can see why she and Chris would have been connected: Video presentation

I’m not even sure how to continue this post now. It’s about another family’s loss, and it is about my family’s loss. And as my first nations friends have been teaching me, we are all related. 

As you know if you’ve followed my story these last few eternal months, I have been mourning since my son Chris’s disappearance into the Mississippi River in April the 10 days he was lost and then when his body was found May 4th, the official date of his death. 

Zach, the young man who is in this article, was one of Chris’s best friends. They met in junior high and were buddies ever since. They played lacrosse together, got into shenanigans together, and were there for each other. Zach came home from college when he heard Chris was missing. 

From Chris’s house

Zach’s dad was the one who initially introduced Chris to meditation and meditation changed Chris’s life. From what I understood, Chris had even attended Justine’s meditation class. 

All three were with us in the terrible days of Chris’s disappearance. I hadn’t met Justine until a prayer vigil for him at the river when he was missing, but then she reached out to me and let me know she was there with me. She and Zach’s dad and I were going to get together soon so they could share some of their experiences with Chris with me. 

She was a person who carried peace with her and shared it generously. I could feel that. I met some women at a vigil held for Justine tonight who knew about Chris because Justine had led a meditation session in his honor soon after Chris’s death. They told me it was beautiful. 

And so Zach has lost now two of his best friends in a matter of a couple of months. My heart aches for him and for his family. My heart selfishly aches for me, too, because I hadn’t yet gotten to know her and to feel the connection that I know she had to Chris. 

Before Chris died, I was very involved in social justice issues. I haven’t been able to be very active or vocal since my heart was shattered. But now I must speak and I must stand. I don’t yet know what that will look like. I will follow the family’s lead. But I will be there for them as much as I can just as they have been here for me. 

What will it take for our nation to stop shooting? What is the deep-seated fear or anger or pain that causes police officers to shoot their guns at people? 

As so many have said to me, I don’t know what to say. There are no words to express my sorrow for this beloved family. I can only be with them as my tears mix with theirs and as the Creator weeps with us at the loss of another beautiful soul. I’m hoping that Chris is meditating with Justine in heaven and that they are both watching over their family that is suffering. 

I’m sharing this poem that Chris wrote because I want to hope we can fuel this world with love in memory of our dear lost ones. 

And because I don’t know how to pray tonight…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26

And finally, this poem I turn to often these days, because these coming seconds, moments, days, weeks, months, will seem unbearable art times. 

Peace, though it is hard to find tonight. 

What Would the River Say? ¿Qué diría el río?

Por primera vez en algún tiempo voy a escribir una entrada bilingüe. For the first time in awhile I’m writing a bilingual post. 

It seems mourning for me has mostly only been possible in written form in English so far. I’ve asked bilingual friends to help me translate other posts to Spanish and I’m starting here again with my own bilingual posts. There may be days when I just don’t have the energy for it, but today I do. 

Parece que estar de luto ha sido para mí casi sólo posible en inglés hasta el momento, al menos en forma escrita. Les he pedido a unos/as amigos/as a traducir unas entradas previas y aquí empiezo con entradas con mío propia traducción. Es posible que hayan días que no tenga la energía para hacer las traducciones, pero hoy sí. 

Otra vez estoy sentada al lado del Lago Harriet con algo de comer, aunque sólo comí un poco, y un vaso con vino, entre gente y sola a la vez. Pensando…

I’m sitting here again at Lake Harriet with a little something to eat, although I’ve only eaten a little, and a glass of wine, among people and alone at the same time. Thinking…

Un letrero explicando por qué está tan sucio el lago

Sometimes I’m surprised that I’m drawn to water and not afraid of it given what happened to Chris. But I suppose having grown up among lakes and rivers and creeks and swimming my whole life, well, it makes sense that both Chris and I were… am…drawn to water. And I don’t blame the river. I don’t know who or what to blame, but the river was just there doing its thing. Powerful, beautiful, mesmerizing, dangerous. 

A veces me sorprendo que tengo ganas de estar cerca del agua en vez de temerla dado lo que pasó con Chris. Pues supongo que creciendo toda la vida en medio de lagos, ríos, riachuelos toda la vida y nadando también toda la vida, pues tiene razón de que a Chris y yo, a los dos nos atraía… me atrae…tanto el agua. Y no le culpo al río. Yo no sé exactamente a quién o qué echar la culpa, pero ahí estaba el río tal como debía ser. Poderoso. Bello. Hipnotizante. Peligroso. 

The main thing I want to say today is that it makes me sad how much garbage I see when I’m out by the river, the river Chris loved so much. 

Lo principal que quiero decir es que me pongo triste cuando veo toda la basura en la orilla del río, el río que tanto quería Chris. 

By the Mississippi/En el Misisipi

El año que entra andaré en bici desde Minnesota hasta el Golfo de México al lado del Río Misisipi. Voy a pedirles a los que quieran darme la bienvenida que limpien el río. Sería una manera de respetar y valorar nuestra creación y así recordamos a mi hijo. 

 (Traducción aproximada: primer párrafo)

Hablo por el Misisipi. 

Qué sepas estoy harto de toda esta contaminación. 

Ya basta con la basura,

¿No sabes cuando la tiras en la calle llega a la alcantarilla y me llega a mí la alcantarilla?

Y las pesticidas que usas para que no hayan bichos en el césped, 

Cuando llueve me llegan arroyos de residuos tóxicos…

Next year I’ll ride my bike from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico along the Mississippi River. I’ll ask people along the way to welcome me by cleaning a part of the river. That is one way we can respect and value our creation and remember my son. 

Just a piece of this poem. I’ll share more later. Un pedazo del poema. Comparto más en el futuro.

 Un pedazo del poema traducido:

He vivido por casi 20 

      De la explotación del ambiente al nombre del progreso, al nombre de Dios. 

A ver si podemos trabajar juntos y cuidar la bella creación que es un regalo para disfrutar y honrar. 

Let’s see if we can work together to care for this beautiful creation that is a gift to honor and enjoy.  

Peace. Paz. 

Finding the Way, Or “The Sun Faces the Same Fate as I”


I would love to be able to stay in bed all day. I really would. But my body won’t allow that. It has, however, been moving as if I’m in a time warp or something. I meant to exercise today. I woke up about 9:15, got my exercise clothes and tennis shoes on. I did a couple of things and walked out the door. I got my coffee and started heading toward the lake, trying to decide whether to walk or bike, because I had so little energy. 

But then I glanced at the clock and it was somehow 10:36 and Austin and I were meeting Ahmed at noon for lunch. Walking or biking would take too much time. 

So I went home instead and took Socky for a walk. Well, he was pretty lazy today, so I mostly stood with him. 

Time and space are different now, as I hurtle through the universe while I feel like I’m in an unending eternity that just started yesterday. 

So, often I wander in  now familiar places. A couple of days ago I ended up by the Lake Street Bridge again. I haven’t exactly seen yet where Chris was found. Couldn’t quite bring myself to ask Rick, the Water Patrol Supervisor to show me. But I texted him from there and he’ll be in touch with me this week. And I’m terrified of more heartbreak. But it’s one more step I have to take. 

And so I cried and walked on the path high above the river. I looked at a map of the area, just to make sure my bearings were still reliable, and I was almost to where I thought I’d turn around and I saw some steps heading down and toward the river. 

So I followed them down and back toward where I began. Why not?

And I thought of Chris’s “Old Growth Forest” poetry collection. And I thought of Chris. And I found just a little bit of peace in the forest by the river. 

By the way, there’s an awful lot of trash along the river, but I’ll write more about that later. 

And then I found my way back by a different, unknown route. The metaphor isn’t perfect, is it, because I’ll never find my way back. It’s just not possible. 

And then today I finally got the courage to ask for the autopsy report and to contact the investigators so that even though I’ll never have all the answers, and even though the outcome won’t change, well, I’ll know as much as I can.  And I’ve started to look for a grief counselor. My friends are encouraging me to do so. My friend Anne tells me the coroner’s report will be very hard to read. I already know that, though I imagine it will still be a shock seeing the words that I’ve been imagining in writing. 

And somehow, I’m still standing even though I don’t know how. And please don’t take this for strength. We all handle this tremendous grief differently. I’ve been thinking about this today. 

I shared this post earlier on Facebook:

Chris’s friends from his mindfulness group (or one of them…I’m not sure how many he participated in) sent me this poem he wrote around Christmas last year. Thought I would share it with you as you go about your day and your week:

This life is a gift here for you to open,

so rip off the wrapping paper, and see what’s inside.

This life is a ride to be enjoyed in rapture,

so capture what you can with light fingered hands.

This life is a present, floating by to meet your eye,

so keep your heart open to a world waiting to happen.

~Chris Stanley, 2016

May you rest in peace my beloved son who saw how beautiful life can be, even if it isn’t always so. ❤ always, Mom 

People sometimes say you should live your life as if it were your last. I don’t think that’s quite it and I think Chris, Austin and I all learned this with Tom’s stroke: I think we should live our lives like today is a good day to live. 

That will look different for each of us each day. Some days it’s way harder than others. And for those days, look for someone to reach out to or reach out to someone. And maybe all you can manage is… well, I don’t know what that looks like for you. For me it’s different every single day and sometimes every moment. Some days I don’t quite get there. 

So I wander in my grief. I wander with my heart so heavy in my chest…yes…I understand that phrase now…and I trust God will lead me and that Jesus walks with me and that my family and my friends and all who loved Chris or who have been touched by his life walk with me, some with grief that you also struggle with. 

One last note… we worshiped with Tapestry last night. I really, really spent want to go. But I did. And it was the place to be, praising God and being together with my beloved community. We had visitors last night, people invited by some newer people. And the wife had lost her daughter a couple of years ago. They hadn’t known about Chris, but when they told me about their loss, I shared with them mine. And they understood my tears and we grieved and prayed together. 
I hope you find beloved community. And if you don’t, please come and join ours. We will love you for who you are wherever you are in your wandering or if you’ve found your way. You are loved. You have nothing to fear. You are not alone. 

Peace. 

Brains and Getting Over It

I didn’t think I’d write tonight, but the tears continue to fall and the pressure on my chest and in my body overwhelms. I find that the words I write here help me understand what I’m feeling and allow me to release some of the weight as I release the words. 

There are certain tragedies that have already occurred in our family that we have all learned to live with in somber sense though they are hard to accept and understand. I have written some about them before. 

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 8 years ago now and we moved her into a memory care unit last October. The decline was gradual at first and seems to have gotten more extreme over the last two or three years. One part of the reason Chris was studying neurobiology was because of his grandma. He sent me a video about it from a class a few months ago and told me to let him know if there was anything I didn’t understand. Grandma took care of the kids for a few years when she retired.

Christmas 2016 

I couldn’t visit my mom from the time Chris was lost until a week or so after the funeral. That was three weeks and that’s a long time for my mom. I have been visiting since then, but my visits have been fairly short and I don’t really know what to say, especially when she asks about “the boys.”

Through South Dakota on our trip to Yellowstone. Maybe around 2007?

She remembered her three grandsons for the longest time. She always talked about how kind Brandon was and that he’d give her hugs and how smart Austin was and funny and she would always talk about how she loved it when Chris would come over to visit and have a big smile (if you knew Chris, you know this smile) and say, “Hi grandma!” And she would be so happy and proud. 

Mom and I doing our own version of the Science March in April of this year, just a few days before Chris was lost and when she still kind of remembered the boys. 

The first couple of times I visited after the funeral she asked how the boys were. I told her Chris graduated from the U, her alma mater. And she was happy and proud. Just two months later and she maybe asks about the boys but it’s a question out of habit and I mumble some kind of answer. 

I visited yesterday and it was the first time she didn’t recognize me the entire visit. She was asking me when her daughter would visit and looked confused when I told her I’m her daughter. She told me how kind her daughter was and that she helps people. 

And today was Tom’s birthday. I’ve written and spoken quite a bit over the years about his stroke and how our family has walked through this devastating time. 

These pictures are from Chris’s Instagram in the days after his dad’s stroke. 

I think part of the reason we were so happy as a family is that we’d learned to live pretty well with our new reality and Tom had done better than we probably expected. 

But he does have a brain injury, and this was a very large part of Chris’s motivation for choosing his specific major, of course. 

I will say a couple of things about this. Tom was always very mechanically minded. He could fix pretty much anything, and can probably still fix a lot of things, though he can’t use his dominant hand, so that would look different. 

Chris totaled his dad’s Roadmaster on Tom’s birthday when he was a pretty new driver at 16. Tom repaired it. Amazing to me. 

Today he was showing us these drawings of machines he designed and drew to help him walk and ride. From what I understand, be may be working with someone to build them. He now says “thank you” a lot and he talks a lot but we can’t understand him exactly, but his mind  allowed him to draw this machine with his left hand. 

And again, I’m not exactly sure about this, but it seems his mind also functions quite a bit in the present. Tom waa devastated when he heard Chris was lost in the river. And his grief has been deep. But he seems to live much more in the present than I’m able to do and so the intensity of the loss seems less when he’s not being reminded of Chris’s death in the moment. 

This is hard to explain and only my sense of things right now. I hope he gets relief in that way. 

But today these things make me feel very alone in my grief, and I grieve these losses again, or still, too. And I know Austin is devastated and it’s too hard for us to talk about together right now. And I know so many others grieve with me. And family and my friends and Chris’s friends and complete strangers reach out to me daily. And I am so grateful. 

But today I grieve deeply and today I feel alone in my grief, even though I know I’m not. 

And today I paid less on my phone bill because I don’t have to pay for Chris’s phone anymore, though I still have his number and picture on my phone. And I’m making baked beans for Tapestry tomorrow, even though that was really hard, too, because Chris really liked my baked beans, as long as I made sure to remove any stones. And I used herbs I had just bought for him to try from Penzey’s to make the baked beans. 

And I’m so tired of being sad. I’m tired of crying. I feel like I’m complaining and like I should be doing things. But I can’t seem to yet. And so patience is forced upon me. And I continue to be thankful for those who are able to walk with me in this. And I maybe even pray a little for peace. Peace for me and for Austin and for all those who mourn Chris’s loss and for those who mourn loss in their lives, too. 

And I’ll share this poem from the book of poetry Chris dedicated to me. I have the only copy. I searched and searched and couldn’t find it and then it revealed itself to me a couple of days ago. I had just overlooked it. I am so incredibly grateful for this book. 

Peace. 

Sadiversary preaching 

It’s been a little bit since I posted. I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile now but it’s taken me some time to be able to write this post. But it’s been rolling around in my head for awhile now. 

Today is the two month sadiversary of when Chris was found. The first time I really preached since he was lost in the river was two Sundays ago on the 2 month sadiversary of when he was lost in the river. It seems like yesterday and it seems like an eternity. 

 The text for Sunday, June 25th was Matthew 10:24-39. I preached at Community of the Cross Lutheran Church in Bloomington that morning and at Tapestry in the afternoon. We led music, too. Not sure how I can lead music or preach, but God gives the strength. 

I  focused my attention on these verses for the sermon:

26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.<span data-fn="#fen-NRSV-23446a" class="footnote" data-link="[a]” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”>[a]29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Josué preached with me but I’ll share here more or less what I preached as I remember it. I didn’t write it down so this will be different than what I said that morning, but close enough. Just thought I’d share it here with you. 

(I’m actually continuing here July 5th. Yesterday was busy. Family and friends taking care of Austin and me. I can only do so much these days).

So more or less, my part of the sermon was something like this, with a few extra commentaries. Writing this and not being in the context changes a sermon a lot. Also, as preachers we learn not to make sermons about us too much. Well, I suppose when your son just died and it was all over the news and it’s a sadiversary, it becomes okay, even necessary you talk about yourself. So after a way too long introduction, here goes…

Grace to you and peace from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Good morning. I’m glad you be here with you this morning. As Pastor Erik said, I’m pastor Melissa Melnick and I’m here this morning with our musicians from Tapestry and we thank you for inviting us. 

As many of you know, my older son Chris was lost in the river, and today is actually what my other son and I have been calling the two month sadiversary of him being lost. And as you may know, he was found dead in the river ten days later. (Here I cried and the congregation waited a few moments as I gathered myself together, or more that God lifted me up).

I came home late from the gym on that Tuesday, April 25th after a long day, and when I arrived my younger son said, “The police were here a few minutes ago. They said Chris might be lost in the Mississippi.”

And we read this text this morning…”Do not be afraid.” Well, I can tell you I waa afraid that night. I was more afraid than I’ve been in my entire life. I screamed and ran out of the house with my son and over to Chris’s house. 

We didn’t really get much information from the police that night. When I finally went home that night, I was so scared that my kitties felt it. They were afraid to be near me. 

About 2 or 3 nights later, I hadn’t slept much. It was probably about 4 or 5 in the morning and I laid down on my couch. My mind was going in circles and I was so scared. And then as I lay there, I had this kind of vision, or presence or something. And I felt like Jesus came to me and held me and told me not to worry because he was taking care of Chris and he was taking care of me, too. 

So my mind slowed down and I slept for a little bit. 

When he was lost, one of Chris’s really good friends came to me the next day. She told me she wasn’t a religious person, but she did know Chris’s favorite Bible story. It’s the story of Jesus calming the storm. Chris had found meaning in that story after his dad had a stroke four years ago and on a mission trip like your youth just came back from for Hurricane Sandy relief. Chris’s dad waa in the Neuro -ICU when they left on their trip, so when they came back, Chris practically ran to the hospital to tell his dad that even when he felt alone and afraid, he didn’t need to because Jesus was always with him. 

And then a couple of days later we held a prayer vigil by the river. And we all know that a lot of young people aren’t in church anymore. Chris did come to Tapestry with me sometimes, and he came and worshiped with us and brought his dad and brother at Easter. For a long time I had told Chris he would be a preacher. In fact, that Easter, Josué also told Chris he would be a preacher. And he was radiant that day. 

So at the river, some of Chris’s friends showed me small tattoos they had given themselves because Chris had told them the story and that he was thinking of getting a tattoo. 

These kids, many of whom do not consider themselves religious, have the Bible tattooed on themselves now. I was right. Chris was and is a preacher. Not like I thought or hoped, but God used his life and words and faith to share the gospel of Christ’s presence in our lives with his friends and now with many people, even with strangers. 

We all have times when we’re afraid.  You have times in your life We have times in your life when you experience sorrow or pain, times when you suffer. That is part of our lives sometimes. All of us. 

And we all have different experiences of God working in our lives. But be assured, God is here with you and among us. God chooses us in our baptism like with your little guy this morning. And God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to walk among us, to suffer, to die, and to rise again in order that we may be forgiven and that we may know a love that is for all of us, that we may rest assured in the promise of a fullness of life that is to come. That verse from John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son to die for us that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s always been important to me, but now it takes on a whole new meaning. 

And we are brought into community so that we can be held up in love and prayer, so that when we can’t pray ourselves, or we are so afraid or have so much sorrow or pain, our community is with us and for us. 

You don’t need to be afraid of earthly things. God knows the hairs on your head. As God cares for the littlest sparrows, God certainly cares for you. God gives us God’s own son’s body and blood in the bread and the wine that we share at communion. This is the love we share in community and in our neighborhoods. This is the love that allows me to sing and preach here with you, brothers and sisters, because on my own it would be impossible. This is the love that is for you and with you. This is the love that tells you that you don’t need to be afraid. God is with you. Always. Why be afraid? You are never alone. Amen

——

My sermon was something like that. Afterward, a couple shared with me that their daughter had died some years ago but that they were able to allow themselves to feel some things they hadn’t for some time. And a first-time visitor to the church said that day was the 30 year anniversary of her brother’s death and that she must have been led there that day. 

Maybe we preachers need to share a little more about the hard times in our lives, the times that bring us to our knees, the times when we truly understand that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ  my Lord and come to him. Faith is not meant to be easy. It’s not impermeable. It’s not constant. And yet, without faith, then yes, I, at least, would be afraid. 

I’m so incredibly sad. And all who are parents know that my biggest fear was realized. And still, for some reason, I must continue to share the story of God’s love through Chris, through his life and words, and even through the profound impact of his death. But I’m not alone. Neither are you. 

Some of the designs Chris was thinking of for his tattoo.

A few tattoo designs from family

Peace. 

Glad… in a bittersweet kind of way 

I know I’ve used these blog posts as a way to express my deep grief with Chris being lost in the river and because of his death. And in the midst of this I have some things that I’m very grateful for. 

Tom and I loved Chris from the moment he was conceived. He was born on April Fool’s Day. This was a good day for him to be born, not because he was a fool, not by any means, but because he was very funny and he could take a joke (important in my family).

I’m glad Chris was baptized at Mt. Olive and confirmed at Central Lutheran. I’m glad he went on trips with his youth group to Camp Amnicon, Montana, New Orleans and New Jersey. 

I spent a lot of time with Chris as he was growing up. We argued sometimes, but mostly we got along really well. I’m glad I was there, at least sometimes when he got in trouble, like for climbing on top of PSI with two friends who know who they are but who I won’t name here. I’m glad I was there for him when he crashed his dad’s Roadmaster and totaled it. I’m glad I decided never to hit my kids and I did my best not to yell at them too much (though Chris said I yelled at him with the tone of my voice even if not the volume). I’m glad Tom and I were able to mostly get along even after we got divorced because the boys were so important to both of us.  I’m glad Chris knew that even if I or his dad got angry with him we would always, always love him, no matter what. 

We loved swimming, biking, going to museums, reading together, going to movies, laughing, playing, sledding, going to the theater, especially to see Austin in plays. I’m glad Chris, Austin and I were actually in a play together once. 

 I’m glad we traveled. We loved traveling together. We had so much fun on road trips. We went to visit my Uncle Raymond in Cincinnati, my brother and sister-in-law and family near Milwaukee. We went to Yellowstone with grandma Sharon. 

We did college tours. We went on a cruise to Canada with grandma Faye. 

Probably our best trip was Christmas two years ago to visit friends in Mexico. He fell in love with the girl who he had given his first kiss to when he was a baby.  He wrote a poem or two about that. 

I won’t talk about specifics of Chris’s dating and lovelife, but he had fallen in love and had serious girlfriends. He’d loved and he’d had his heart broken. 

I’m glad Chris was such a good musician and got to take lessons from Joy and Stephen and play with a boy band and at church and to jam with friends. 

I’m glad Chris and I just hung out for fun sometimes and that he and Austin got together to watch some stuff on Netflix and to play videogames and to watch comedy shows. I’m glad we played games together and talked about books and music and politics and life. 

I’m glad Chris and I each got to invite friends and go salsa dancing together. We had so much fun that night. 

I’m glad we were together for so many holidays and that we had so march fin and loved being together. 

I’m glad Chris and Austin brought their dad to Tapestry for Easter and that we had a lovely time as a family and celebrating together Martha’s birthday with her family and our Tapestry family that day. 

Im glad the boys thought it was good to celebrate their birthdays at Perkins so we could bring grandma and their dad along easily, even though this particular day we had terrible service and a long wait and Chris told me not to worry about it. 

I’m glad Chris and I could go to protests and compare notes and thoughts. I’m glad Chris found a place in so many groups that worked for justice. 

I’m glad Chris worked for Wilderness Adventure and learned to love even more deeply the outdoors and to use his talents with so many people. He loved the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park, leading trips on rivers and lakes around here, and most of all Glacier National Park. 

I’m glad he went with orchestra to New York and I’m glad he went to Eagle Bluff in fifth grade. I’m glad he went to the Climate March in New York City with friends and became a vegetarian. It changed his life. I’m glad he went to Colorado with TJ last winter and visited Laura. 

I’m glad Chris was respectful of people. I’m glad he was friendly. I’m glad Chris got to meet so many of my good friends and that he had so many good friends and that I’ve gotten to meet so many of them. 

I’m glad Chris wrote so much and that he was so dedicated to his meditation practice as he found so much solace in these practices. 

I’m glad Chris was well-loved by his extended family. He was a little too young to know how much, but even so he reaped the benefit of this love. I’m glad we heard his boisterous laugh and saw his gorgeous smile and felt his arms around us so often. 

I’m glad I got to see Chris grow into a thoughtful, caring, open, beautiful young man. I’m glad I am given the blessing to be able to share him and his words and his witness with so many. 

And I wish I wasn’t writing this. I wish he was still sharing all of these things himself. 

Peace.