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.
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.