Sunday, February 10, 2013

Remembering Christopher... And The Things I've Learned

Today, February 10, 2013, marks the 11th anniversary of the accident that took my son from this world.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him still.  If he were alive today he would be 28 years old. Who would he be?  Would he have a wife and family?  Would he have fulfilled his dream of being a pilot?  Would he have joined the Air Force as he wanted and gone off to war?  These questions will never be answered for me. 

I was reading something the other day about a teacher who lost her husband suddenly.  She realized that little things in life mattered most and shared her insight with her students.

“Class is over. I would like to share, with all of you, a thought that is unrelated to class but which I feel is very important.  Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end.  It can be taken away at any moment.  Perhaps this is heaven's way of telling us that we should make the most out of every single day.

So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice.

It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them.

For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the "stuff" of life - the little things we are put here on earth to enjoy... The things we often take for granted.”

This story was relayed by someone who had recently lost her husband.  I wish I could remember who it was but I accidentally deleted the e-mail prematurely.

Today, in honor of Christopher, I offer the same advice but will add something of my own. 

None of us know when we, or someone we love, will be taken from this life.  It’s difficult enough to lose someone we love when it’s expected, such as an elderly parent or grandparent or someone who suffers from a terminal illness.  It always hurts to have to say good-bye.  It’s even more difficult and painful to lose someone suddenly in an unexpected way.  Losing someone you love to an accident or a heart attack or, heaven forbid, to their own hand, can feel as if a piece of your heart has been torn out.  When that person is suddenly gone forever you can never again tell them in person what they mean to you.  Certainly you can still talk to them – I talk to Christopher all the time and I believe he hears me.  But you can’t look them in the eye and know they understand what you’re telling them.

In like manner, it’s difficult for the ones we leave behind if we happen to be the one who moves on.  If you die tonight – do the people you love know how you feel?

So on this special day I offer this advice.  Never pass up an opportunity to tell those you love just how you feel.  You never know when something could happen that will take that opportunity away from you forever.  The night Christopher died he and his mother had an argument and he left the house angry.  Neither of them said “I love you” before he left.  Certainly things like that are going to happen in life – none of us is perfect.  But Christopher’s mom lived the rest of her life remembering she didn’t tell her baby boy she loved him before he went out.  And it was the last chance she had.

The good thing is that Pat very rarely missed that opportunity.  Christopher certainly knew he was loved and appreciated.  She told him on a regular basis and I told him I loved him every time I spoke with him.  And he told us as well.  So there’s my other piece of advice.  Teach your children to do what I’m telling you.  Teach them to express their love for others openly and for the same reason.  Even though as teenagers they believe they know everything – none of us ever knows what can happen.  They will be better people for it.

May our good Lord bless you all.

Christopher – I’m thinking of you today a little more than usual.  I love you and I miss you every day.  Say hi to your mom for me.  

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