Picking up the pieces


I have to admit. Though I was a Spanish and ESL teacher for so long, I am terrible with idioms in both languages. You know, those sayings or pearls of wisdom. I can never repeat them correctly. I always forget how they go together. Oddly, though, idioms are going through my head these days.

This one…picking up the pieces. I’ve been thinking a lot about this.

Picking up the pieces implies that you have all the pieces, and that in some way, shape or form you can glue a broken object back together, or maybe put something together, like a jigsaw puzzle. And that somehow those pieces will go back together in some coherent manner.

So I’ve been thinking about “picking up the pieces.” But of course, I don’t have all of the pieces anymore. So no matter how I try to put them back together, there will always be something missing. A really large something. No matter how I try to pick up the pieces, they will never go back together right for me.

Normally I’m pretty okay with that. I am a person who finds structure in different ways. If something breaks, normally I’m easily able to see a new and creative way to put whatever it is together in a new way that maybe won’t make sense to everyone, but makes sense to me, and very often delights me in its new form.

But this time…I’m not seeing it at all. The cover photo is of a very short poem Chris wrote. I’m not really sure if it’s complete or not, but this is the way it appears in his journal:

The path whole

And the way it is here, it feels like it’s not quite finished, like he wasn’t sure where to go next.

I am normally very goal-driven, vision-oriented. I see things as they could be and how I’d like them to be. One time Austin told me I had the “gift of vision.” (I had actually had a strange experience with a kind of young boy visitor one night as I slept who appeared to be playing in an elevator and who I actually felt tap me twice on my knee that was sticking out of my covers. At first I thought it was Chris and I told him to go to bed because I was sleeping. He wasn’t the greatest sleeper when he was young. The second time I opened my eyes and it was a kind of vision of a boy. He smiled, like he was playing, and he left. Yes, you’re learning my strange secrets).

So, anyway, Austin was talking about something a little different, but I do have a very visual way of experiencing thoughts. But I don’t see them now. I see a Monet type of jigsaw, but with pieces missing in the middle and the colors blurred because I can’t see them.

Or I think of a clay jar that has been broken, but not glued together with gold or something like that, but with a big gaping hole. It’s a vessel filling with my tears, but not really filling because the hole keeps allowing the salt water to flow out, so there seems to be a stream of never-ending tears.

That’s how I see it now. I know this is not exactly how things will always remain. There will always be holes. They’ll never be filled. And somehow a new picture will become clearer to me. And the jar will come together in a new way, probably misshapen, but enough so that I can see the new form.

Little by little. Second by second, hour by hour, day by day, month by month.

Tree story

And love will be exhaled. It is already breathing in the love I have for Chris and for Austin, and the in the breaths so many of you are taking with me and with our family.


Control…yeah, right…

After Chris’s funeral, a friend sent me a note. He said he had been at the funeral but had not been able to greet me because he was worried his pain would be too great. He said his biggest fear was that one of his own children might die.

I suppose as parents most of us have these three principal fears, (plus a lot of other ones, both big and small):

  1. that our children will suffer
  2. that our children will die
  3. that we will die and our children will be left without us

Well, with Chris I know that he died, and it is quite likely he suffered. I won’t ever know how much, so I pray that it wasn’t too much and I give thanks that he is not suffering any longer.

But it occurs to me that many of us as parents think we have way more control over these three outcomes than we actually do. I suspect this has some correlation with the privileges we enjoy in our lives, but for right now I can only speak from my own experiences.

When Chris and Austin were still toddlers, I read an article of some sort in the newspaper. I don’t recall many details or who wrote it, but what I remember about it has always influenced the way I looked at worry and fear while raising my children.

The article was written by a mother who had two young children. One of the children had a terminal disease and the parents were, understandably, quite worried about this child. As it turned out, the other child died suddenly and first after she choked on some food.

When my kids were little, Chris would do things at playgrounds or on his bike or in the backyard that would make me nervous. I would tell him he could do whatever it was he was doing but I wasn’t going to look. He would laugh and do the thing I that made me nervous. Sometimes it was even sanctioned activities like gymnastics or Lacrosse.

During middle school and early high school, I would get worried about Chris. He was in that really unpredictable phase. He got caught one time with a couple of friends climbing on top of his three-story elementary school. Then, apparently, he got put on a list at the high school of kids to watch out for. He got caught lying to me a couple of times about where he was, and, well, he heard about that. One thing I always told him, though, was that I was likely to be angry with him sometimes, but no matter what, I would always love him. I told him, and I meant it, that there was nothing he could ever do that would make me stop loving him.

And then when he got to college, he traveled with a school group to Guatemala and heChris joyful led groups through Wilderness Inquiry on the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers, to the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park, and finally to Glacier, where he looks so free and at home. Sometimes I would worry because I would hear weather reports about storms in the Boundary Waters. He told me there was one very scary night with lightning and a tree fell in the forest near their tent.

Even my more cautious Austin spent a few months traveling around Europe by himself when he was 18. He stayed mostly with my friends, granted, but he was still traveling by himself, to Spain, Italy, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh, and Norway. I made him text me every day.

And Chris rode his bike everywhere, day and almost two years ago he called me at about 2 a.m. to tell me he needed me to take him to the ER because he had fallen in an egress window. He had to have two root canals and braces after that. And he was a young man in his 20s who enjoyed life and pushed limits sometimes. Nothing too terribly out of the ordinary, but sometimes when you live life with such gusto and to the limits, well…

So I had basically trained myself not to worry about my kids…too much. Because it mostly has been true that the things I have worried about most are not the things that have come to pass.

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.             Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 

Throughout my kids’ lives, I have been somewhere between a helicopter and free-range mom. I tried out the app that lets you see pretty much where your kids are but I felt like I was spying on them and like I might become obsessed with it. If I didn’t trust them, then that wasn’t going to work anyway.

We can’t truly control life, or especially death. We can create the facade. We can live in denial (I used to be an expert at that before my own transformation a few years ago) and create illusions of  being able to control death. But in the end, well, death comes to all of us.

We hope and pray death will wait until we’re older and more ready for it. But that’s not how it works. Of course, we can take certain precautions. Don’t get me wrong. And at the same time we need to live our lives and let our children live theirs, too.

And sometimes our children die before they, or we, are really ready. And holy moly, the pain seems unbearable at times. For me right now, I have found that it is so profound that I can’t seem to be able to pray. So I am relying on my community’s prayers for now. and I am relying on the Spirit to intercede with sighs too deep for words. Because I really don’t have them.

I’ve mentioned before that Chris has left me with many blessings. I was looking through some more books and papers today and I was blessed, once again, by a page he had marked in this book:

Stillness cover

It is about gratitude and acceptance. This quote in particular stood out to me:

Am I saying, “Enjoy this moment? Be happy?” No.

Allow the “suchness” of this moment. That’s enough.

Stillness speaks surrender

I had to learn to allow myself to experience the full spectrum of emotions, especially those that I thought were “negative”: fear, pain, sorrow, anger. And because I have learned to allow myself to experience these emotions, I have been able to much more fully experience joy and love and acceptance. Right now sorrow is overwhelming. And I know someday I’ll experience something more like the joy I had when Chris was alive. Someday. Not today. Not yet. Someday. So today I surrender to the things that I feel.

Today I throw flowers into the river and touch the tree we planted for Chris. And I weep.

So I end this post with some pictures of the river, first at the Lake Street Bridge, somewhere near where they found my precious Chris, and then near Bohemian Flats, the place where I was told they had found him, as I was surrounded by family and friends. And at the very end is another poem I just found today in a notebook where Chris had  written down his dreams.

And I wish you a goodnight. Peace.

Stillness poem


Today was the day. The day we completed our immediate rituals for taking care of Chris. In some ways it provides some peace, knowing I was able to take care of him in the ways in which he would have wanted. And, it’s been a terribly almost impossible day, too. It’s the day I start to figure out what the rest of my life looks like without Chris present physically in it. But that is probably many more posts I’ll save for another day.

Today we were able to send Chris down his beloved Mississippi. For me, that is one great headstone for him. We were blessed to have Pastor Marlene Hegelmo and Sharon Day, Water Walker lead us in this sending along with two brothers who played and sang for us. I will be forever blessed by the ways in which they have supported Chris and us as family and friends of Chris.

Here is the bulletin from this morning…

We started by hearing stories of this artery, the Mississippi River, from our hosts from Anishinabe, Ho Chunk and Lakota/Dakota nations. We heard of zagay, love, in different forms. We heard of our hosts love of this water and we heard about some places where the Mississippi is dead because we have not taken care of God’s creation, of which we are a part.

Two young brothers sang for us and played their drums. Sharon sang for us and taught us a song, too.

And people’s love poured out…for Chris, for our immediate and extended family, for our friends and our relatives, all people. I could feel it in the presence of those gathered and those breathing with us in our sorrow. I have felt it these last weeks with the love and support of others who have lost a loved one at a young age. These sighs and breaths are often what keep me breathing.

My friend Emilie brought her canoe and invited Jeff along to help guide the canoe into the waters to set sail to Chris’s biodegradable urn with his holy ashes. I’ve maybe met Jeff a couple of times, but God sends people to be together and to support each other and to be in community. This is what Jeff wrote and posted on Facebook today, and I think it is a good summary of this part of the morning:

This morning I had the intense, and deeply humbling honor of paddling on the mighty Mississippi to inter the remains of a dear friend to many of us; Christopher C. Stanley. The family held an intensely spiritual Service led by tribal elders and holy people from the Anishinable, Lakota/Dakota, and Ho Chunk nations. I was honored to be part of a tobacco blessing and sacred water blessing led by the elders. We paddled our young friends remains into the swift current of the big river and sent him on the next part of his journey. Remarkably, when the Tribal elder poured the water blessed by all 35 of us, a massive tree crashed down in the woods behind at the exact moment to water left her copper pot and touched the river. We were all amazed and reverent to the moment. This was easily the most honorable moment I’ve ever had in a canoe; or perhaps will ever have. What a blessing to have been a part . Thank you Christopher C. Stanley. Swift and steady current as you travel on.

Both times we have had ceremonies at Hidden Creek for Chris, once when he was still lost, and now, he has not wanted to leave me. The first time we placed the tobacco vessel in the river and it hung around for awhile before finally going into the current. This time, we used the canoe to place his vessel and remains into the current. He spent some time again with us at Hidden Beach, even going upstream for awhile, before the current took him away on this journey. I won’t say his last, because I think he’s having some kinds of amazing adventures in whatever eternal life is.

Here is a poem that Chris wrote about a year ago, I think, that I had wanted to read at the sending today that I couldn’t pull up on my phone, but like so much of his poetry, it speaks to this moment:

Chris Stanley

Something I can’t do is
stop thinking about the way water flows.
Streams of solid fluid rush past me,
the rapids tumbling over my ear drums.

A crack is all I hear
a tooth splitting, spine biting, it snapped
and the rivers color danced out of my visual range.

I saw an x-ray of the fish swimming
over a sandy shore and their fins shimmer
like lakes reflecting an exact image of
the faces you keep deep inside memories.

If you were to somehow make a boat,
and it would need to be sturdy,
take it down the river and go faster
than the pulling current. If you can find
familiar water, would you
drink and bathe in it? Take it up
against the strong motion, fight against
oppressive pressures pressing you back.

Be careful not to contaminate,
be careful even in parting the stream,
the bow pointing towards the answers to
questions, towards a forbidden knowledge
which was never deciphered.

And thus I released the remains of my oldest son down the currents of the might Mississippi.

And then we made one last stop on what seems a bit like a marathon, though I know I haven’t even reached the one mile marker.

We planted a tree in Chris’s memory at Bohemian Flats where we spent much time as we waited to find Chris, when we still had just a tiny glimmer of hope we might find him with life still in him. And the place where we found out his spirit had left his body.

I read some of Chris’s poems, friends and family added dirt. I added a little bit of Chris and the people who helped us with this promised to take good care of this beautiful Huckleberry Tree that will grow and bear fruit and be a home for lots and lots of birds. If you ever want to visit, please do. It’s accessible and right on the path. And if you’d like to visit with me, please let me know and I’ll be happy to meet you there.

In memory of mine and Tom’s beloved son and Austin’s beloved brother, and beloved by so many…


Mother’s Day…Every day…

I’m going to start this post with a poem I found today. This is number 15 of 15 of a group of poems called “Old Growth Forest” that Chris seems to have written almost exactly one year ago. Sometimes I feel like I got extra time with him and I am thankful for each and every day. If there is someone you are missing or need to make up with, or at least make a first move, might I encourage you to do so. Anyway, here is the poem:


Day one. I died today
and woke up in a forest.
I can tell that it is old
an age which cannot be measured in years,
evidenced by the thickness of the tree trunks
and by the depth of the green leaves.

I don’t remember how I died
it happened so quickly
I felt no pain. When I woke up
the memory faded faster than
a dream before the morning sun.

I feel more alive than ever
reborn through death,
as I lay on my back
in this old growth forest
I put my hands on my chest
feeling the rhythm as my heart beats,
my lungs expanding with new breath.

Everything is different here,
the sights, the sounds,
love and fear,
I am ready to start my journey
through the green that surrounds.


Mother’s Day…

If you know me well, you will not be surprised that I am writing about Mother’s Day a few days late. I’m pretty much late for everything. Chris, on the other had, was pretty much early or on time for everything…except when I was picking him up.

Over the years, Chris, Austin and I had developed routines where we would call or text on holidays or special days, but we would often get together on another day. We loved each other every single day and holidays often seem so stressed and manufactured, so we were fine being together other days.

Even birthdays. When Chris and Austin were little, they received so many gifts I actually mostly stopped buying them stuff. Same with them. We would try to buy gifts we thought were meaningful rather than just to give something, and often we wouldn’t give a gift at all. Just dinner or something. Mother’s Day just was always so busy and expensive so the boys would wish me a Happy Mother’s Day and we would get together another day, so I thought maybe Mother’s Day wouldn’t be so hard this year.


Well, I was wrong about that. My friends took me for breakfast. They ate a ton. I ate toast. I swung down to Hidden Falls for a little while then tried to take a nap. I kept seeing all of the Mother’s Day posts and people sent me nice messages. Austin went to Tapestry with me, and it was nice to be with our community.

And then I got home. And I cried and cried.

And then Monday came around and I can’t even remember much of the day, to be honest. And Tuesday. And now it’s Wednesday. And I’ve been doing the things I need to do. Calling Social Security and the bank to let them know Chris died. Starting to pack Chris’s things.

I haven’t yet really been able to listen to music or wear jewelry. I’m not really sure why that is. I can’t look at pictures of Chris too much. That just breaks my heart.

I have so many random thoughts swirling through my head today.

Thinking about how incredibly happy we were as a family…Chris, Austin and I. It’s like we had all found our place and we were enjoying life so much. And to go from that joy to this incredible sorrow. It’s disorienting.

Here’s our trip to Chicago last summer with Tati, my foreign exchange daughter from Brazil…

And time as a family with Chris and Austin’s dad, Tom. The boys even brought Tom to Tapestry on Easter. They all had a great time. I served communion to Tom. We all enjoyed the food. Chris was radiant that day. His smile and his love were so huge. Here is Tom with the boys at Austin’s high school graduation in 2015 and Chris and Austin’s birthday lunch at Perkin’s about two months ago so it would be easier to bring both dad and grandma.

And we had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places together…road trips to Ohio, WI Dells, Yellowstone, college tours. We traveled together to Mexico, Guatemala, on a cruise with Grandma Faye two summers ago to Canada.

We were so in love with life and with each other and we were so happy. And Chris and Austin had grown into a beautiful relationship as brothers. Sure, they argued from time to time. Chris was just like that. And  he drove Austin nuts sometimes. And he encouraged Austin to have fun and get out and bike more and explore. And they loved each other very much.


March 7th, I think it is, it International Day of the Woman. Chris sent me this text that day:

“Thanks for being you, happy womens day. Another one of those days that should really be everyday, or at least a whole month.”


Heavy Heart

Over the last few days, I have been pondering the way in which we deliver the devastating news of the death of a loved one. In English, we often preface this word with the phrase…”It is with a heavy heart…”

I’ve been pondering this because it’s not my heart that feels so heavy. It is my body. My body feels like it weighs a ton. Even as I type this, gravity seems to be pulling down on my forearms, my fingers move because they are accustomed to moving, but with a very conscious effort. I wake up in the morning and I wonder how I will get out of bed. My back hurts. My legs hurt. My arms. I lie flat and try to sink a little more into my mattress, try to stretch out my legs a little bit. Rotate my neck and get some of the kinks out.

I get up for a seemingly normal and beautiful day and it makes my shoulders sag to wonder what, exactly, I will do today. Even my breathing feels…heavy. There’s a reason the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. The sighs are deep and there are no words.

Today I put on my workout clothes, kinda like the ones I was wearing late on Tuesday, April 25th when I first heard that Chris may have disappeared into the Mississippi River. And I started another very abnormal normal day. Got my iced coffee, went down to Lake Harriet. I walked a short stretch and then I just sat for awhile.

And eventually I had to just rest my head on the table because it felt so heavy. My eyelids. Not so much my heart, though.

I’m sure my heart is heavy, too. So I wonder if it’s just that it’s shattered in a million little pieces so I can’t feel the weight. Or sometimes it feels like it is floating on water. I suppose God’s way of helping me get through this. Get through this. Not really the words. I don’t think we ever “get through” something like this.

But today I did a few normal things with my very heavy body and my not so seemingly heavy heart in my new abnormal life. Here is an indication of just how abnormal my life is. I’m sitting on a little sliver of my couch between the box with Chris’s remains with the urn in it and maybe hundreds of cards and gifts that I need to read through because so many people are walking with us in this abnormal normal journey.

Because death is part of living. Later this week we’ll plant a tree with a few of Chris’s ashes and send him a little further on his journey in his biodegradable urn. (I’m sure some of you would like to read more about his “green cremation” here).

I often told Chris someday he would be a preacher. I wasn’t wrong. It’s just that this is not how I pictured it being. His death has brought life to his words in a way that we would have never imagined. Mine, too, it seems. Our new abnormal normal.

Someday I suppose my body will feel lighter and my heart heavier. Such is the way of these things. And then all heavier. And then all lighter. Someday.

I’ve posted these elsewhere, but I post here some poems that Chris wrote that I shared at the funeral yesterday.

Call me love2 Poems

River Citizen


Funeral FAQs~en inglés y español

My blog tonight will be focused on answering some frequently asked questions about Chris’s funeral. It will include logistical pieces as well as some of my own thoughts interspersed.

Se va a enfocar mi blog esta noche en algunas preguntas que hacen frecuentemente sobre el funeral de Chris. Se incluirá partes logísticas junto con algunos pensamientos míos.

When and where will the funeral be and at what time? ¿Dónde y cuándo va a ser el funeral y a qué horas?

The funeral will take place on Friday, May 12th at 4:00 p.m./El funeral se llevará a cabo el Viernes 12 de mayo a las 4:00 de la tarde en:

Central Lutheran Church

333 South 12th Street

Minneapolis, MN 55404

There is free parking. Hay estacionamiento gratis.

What’s a visitation, what time does it start and do I have to be there for that? ¿Qué es una visitación, a qué horas empieza y tengo que llegar para esa parte?

In this case, the visitation will be a time to greet Chris’s family and to share conversations about Chris. It will be a time to look at pictures and other reminders of the full life Chris lived. It will be a time to cry, too, to hug, to be together informally. There will also be a video that some of Chris’s friends made about him and you’ll be able to watch that, too. You are invited to arrive any time after 2:00 p.m. and during this time if you’d like.

En este caso, durante la visitación podrás saludar a la familia de Chris y compartir conversaciones sobre él. Podrás ver fotos y otros recuerdos sobre la vida llena que vivió Chris. Será un tiempo para llorar, también, para abrazar y para estar junt@s informalmente. Habrá también un video que han hecho algunos amigos de Chris sobre él que podrás ver. Puedes llegar a partir de las 2:00 p.m. y durante este tiempo si quieres.

What will the funeral be like? ¿Cómo va a ser el funeral?

This funeral will have some very traditional elements of our Lutheran faith tradition. We will remember Chris’s baptism, we will read from the Bible, we will pray, share in communion, the gift of forgiveness of sins and the promise of God’s love and grace, and we’ll sing a lot. You may not understand all of it, but I hope you will feel God’s presence in this place. Our family welcomes you no matter what your faith tradition or if you feel you have no faith at all. I hope someday you will invite me to share in some of your traditions, too. The service will be bilingual in large part and children are welcome.

Chris has been cremated and his ashes will be present in a biodegradable urn with a picture of a sailboat on it. We will likely cry and laugh together during this time as we celebrate Chris’s life, mourn his death, and hold fast to the promise of everlasting life in Christ.

Este funeral tendrá algunos elementos fundamentales de nuestra tradición de fe luterana. Recordaremos el bautizo de Chris, leeremos de la Biblia, oraremos, compartiremos en la santa cena, lo cual es el regalo del perdón del pecado y la promesa de la gracia y amor de Dios, y cantaremos mucho. Tal vez no entiendas todo pero espero que sientas la presencia de Dios en este lugar. Nuestra familia te da la bienvenida no importa su tradición de fe o si te sientes que no tienes ninguna fe. Espero que algún día me invites también a compartir en algunas tradiciones tuyas. El funeral será bilingüe en gran parte y son bienvenid@s l@s niños.


Ya ha sido cremado Chris y sus cenizas estarán presentes en una urna biodegradable con un dibujo de una barca de vela. Es probable que lloraremos y nos reiremos junt@s durante este tiempo mientras celebramos la vida de Chris, lamentamos su muerte y nos mantenemos firmes en la promesa de la vida eterna en Cristo.

What should I wear? ¿Qué ropa debo usar?

Wear anything you’d like. Come as you are. You are welcome.

Usa cualquier ropa que quieras. Ven tal como eres. Eres bienvenid@.

What happens at the reception? ¿Qué pasa en la recepción?

We’ll eat, talk about Chris, watch a video, laugh and cry at the reception. It’s a time to gather and remember and be in community. And of course we’ll eat.

Comeremos, hablaremos de Chris, veremos un video, nos reiremos y lloraremos en la recepción. Es un tiempo para estar junt@s y recordar en comunidad. Y por supuesto comeremos.

That’s about all I have for tonight. I spontaneously cry so don’t be surprised if I’m laughing one minute and crying the next. It’s all a part of the process and you are welcome to do both things, too.

Es básicamente todo lo que tengo para esta noche. No te sorprendas si me estoy riendo un momento y llorando el próximo. Es parte del proceso y tú también puedes hacer lo mismo.

Peace. Paz.


Dust to dust

I won’t lie to you. Today was a really hard day. I wanted to wear all black but it was too hot for my black turtleneck and I couldn’t find my black shirt so I settled on a gray skirt, yellow tank top and black sweater. I took it as a sign that I can have little glimpses of sunshine in the midst of my grieving and sorrow. My name means “honeybee,” too, and I always feel like a honeybee when I wear that outfit.

I went to Central to plan the funeral. This is often part of my job. I’ve done it many times with other grieving families. I suppose it makes it a little easier because I know the process. I know how to fill in the blanks. But, well, you know, doing this for my 22-year-old son, well, still hard.

And I washed clothes, Chris’s, Austin’s and mine. And I took Socky (my cat) for a walk. And I got gas. And I cried.

Because today was the day.

We say in our tradition…earth to earth, ashes to ashed, dust to dust.

By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19

I got to touch Chris’s form one last time, cry over him, pray over him, caress him through the shroud, mark his forehead with the cross of Christ, the promise that God is ever faithful to us.

And I visited again, on this two week, what? anniversary? of his disappearance, the last place he was seen alive. And I wept. I weep as I write this post. I weep and write now so that in some time later tonight I will be able to lay my head upon my pillow and sleep, though my sleep doesn’t seem to bring me much rest.

Here is the thing about our faith. Our faith teaches us that the story doesn’t end at death. Death doesn’t have the final word. New life in Chris is our promise. I am not one to dwell on what that means, exactly, or what heaven or the afterlife or eternal life might be like or look like. I’m perfectly comfortable in that mystery.

At this risk of this post boring you to tears, I continue. Because I don’t care too much if you are bored, to be honest, because I write for me. I write for Chris, and I write for Austin. And now I get to the pictures.

I’m not a very organized person. I’m one of those people who hope that when they say “A cluttered desk is the sign of a creative person” it’s true. So I’ve been searching for a book of poetry that Chris gave me and dedicated to me. You can see the cover and the first four pages above.

And my day got just a little brighter. And I found some of his music on his Spotify on his computer, too, and I listened to some of the music as long as I could and I felt his spirit a little closer to me.

And I hit a treasure trove on his computer which we had left open since the night he disappeared. He is way more organized than I and he has a poetry folder on his desktop and I was able to copy the files onto a flash drive and I took pictures with my camera of every page just in case I lost them!

And so I share with you just a few poems from the book that Chris dedicated to me.





Embrace because Chris embraced life, and I hope I will be fully able to again someday, too.


Border War, because he is his mother’s child.


Chris speaks for the Mississippi and soon he will be, once again, a part of it. He loved this river when he was alive. It took his life and once again he will be part of it. Please remember that and maybe we can take care of this powerful, beautiful, gift from God.Night

And I don’t think Chris would have ever imagined how his words and actions would influence this world. And I carry on through my own veil of tears, wading, pushing, pushed in my soaking wet tears and try to honor Chris’s life by living mine.