I know most of my posts so far have been funny and/or informative and mostly related to being a mommy, and this is not really one of those posts. While a lot of us were memorializing soldiers and their sacrifices for our freedom, our family was remembering Christopher.
Christopher was one of the quirkiest kids I've ever known. I can remember "babysitting" him when my brother, Michael, and Sherry, Christopher's mother, would come visit us with him. I was barely 10 and they pretty much let me have my way with him. As he grew and became a young boy and then a tweenager, he went through that awkward, annoying stage most boys go through. I can remember each time I would bring a new boyfried to a family function, Christopher would usually make me mad by calling that boyfriend by the previous boyfriend's name. He met his match though when I brought Ryan, who would become my husband, to Christmas when they met for the first time. They both had a very similar warped sense of humor and could frequently been seen giggling about something that I'm sure had to do with a bodily function.
Christopher's life was in Mississippi. We didn't get to see eachother a lot throughout the year, but they came up to mom and dad's often. What I miss is the times he and I would be on facebook at the same time and he would pop up unexpectedly and chat with me. We'd talk about music we liked, how fun it was to be in the band, band competitions, etc. Music is what we had in common. He liked a lot of music I wasn't familiar with, so he would "school" me on things he liked to listen to. Not only did we have music in common, but we were drummers. I was a percussionist when I was in band. We are special people. If you're in band, you can pretty much guess within a few minutes of meeting another band person what instrument they play just by their personalities. People that play the trumpet (these are the easiest to guess, they are so cocky, LOL), flute, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, etc., they all have a personality you can peg almost everytime. And Christopher was a drummer, through and through!!
So as I write this, I can remember at this time, exactly one year ago on this day I got one of the worst phone calls of my life. My dad called, and in a strangely calm voice he said, "There's been an accident. Christopher's gone, Sherry's gone, they're all gone. That's all we know right now." We hung up the phone. Ryan and I were outside having some meaningless conversation, and he watched as my emotions exploded. I threw up, and sat down, and sobbed. It took me forever to get the words out to tell him what had happened. We sat down together and both cried and held eachother for several minutes. I couldn't think or even string enough words together to make a coherent sentence. How could this have happened? Surely someone did not have all the facts and this was just a big misunderstanding. As the details of the tragedy unfolded over the next 24 hours, it was just more than anyone should have to comprehend. Christopher, his mom, his 3 siblings by his mom (Carlie, Jake, and Macy), his step-sister Michaela, and their families' 2 exchange students, Albin and Flavia had been on vacation in Florida. They were on their way home and Christopher was driving. They had a blowout on the interstate and had a one-vehicle crash. Christopher, Sherry, Macy, and Flavia were all killed instantly. The other 4 were injured but not fatally, and were able to attend the funeral.
Sherry was a nurse, like me. She loved children, she made them her life. She even took in not one but 2 exchange students, and from what I understand, did everything she could to treat them as her own and show them everything she could about American life. She and Christopher went together to China to adopt Macy, who was born with a cleft lip. While they were there, I remember seeing pictures Sherry posted of I think about 60 pairs of shoes she bought her while there because they were so cheap. That is so something I would have done! I admired Sherry for her love of children. I think Christopher and Macy had a special bond because he went with his mom to get her. Macy was the same age as my son Holt.
Flavia was due to go home the very next day after the wreck. She had not seen her parents in a year. She was flown home in a casket.
Christopher had just graduated high school, and had a scholarship to Ole Miss. He had the brightest future. We all knew he was a good, Christian young man, but I don't think any of us really knew the extent of his Christian witness to others. It has been unreal the number of stories we have been told from people he loved, comforted, encouraged, and humored in service to the Lord.
A complete year of firsts has now passed since Christopher went home to be with God. Each and every one of those occasions has been difficult. We've all tried to be open and talk, laugh, cry, shout, be silent, and remember as we have encountered different situations surrounding his death. It's pretty amazing to see how our family has pulled together to comfort each other. See, my mom and my dad's ex-wife (Michael's mother; Michael & I share a Dad) now lovingly refer to eachother as "BFFs," talk on the phone, and comment on eachother's facebook posts. When God is at the center of your life, it is amazing what it can do for a family. I am so grateful for mine.