I can’t look back at my childhood without seeing your face. Your soft blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. And who could forget your infectious smile. Do you remember when we visited you in North Carolina? I remembered you cried when I wasn’t spending enough time with you. Remember the time we drove from Ohio to North Carolina with Jeremy? 85 miles an hour wasn’t fast enough for that man with road rage. Was it you or Jeremy that mooned him? We were laughing so hard that we were crying. That is until we ran out of gas while pulling into the gas station. That crazy man followed us and I kept shouting for someone to call the police and for you to stay in the car. You stayed in the car until that man grabbed me and punched me in my stomach. All the while Jared yelled at him to leave but wouldn’t stand up for me. Then there was you, half his size ready to take him on because he hit me. I loved you for that. Years later I wish you would have been there to defend me from Jared. In a way I guess you were. You were my refuge when I had to get away.
By the time you moved back to Ohio I had been living in Indy for several years. I loved jumping in my car for that 3 hour drive just to sit with you for a few hours. That time meant so much to me. Your love of Marilyn Manson was always our sparing ground. It was well worth the argument because well, he sucks, in my opinion of course. Ha! I say that now that because you can’t fight with me about it. Smashing Pumpkins on the other hand will always hold a special place in my heart. Anytime I hear them come on the radio I smile and say “Hi Chris. Yeah, I miss you too.”
Remember the time Amy, you, and me curled up on your couch and watched Titanic? Amy, I think, wanted to kill us! You and I were always cracking jokes even in the most serious of moments. That was the only time I’ve seen that movie. I can’t help but to think of you when that movie is referenced. “Morons! They could have both been on that drift wood!” UGH! Then there was that crazy Chinese movie that was subtitled in English. The anorexic lady ate her neighbor who was dying. To this day I still don’t understand that movie.
One of my favorite pictures of us is when I had shaved my head except for my bangs, you wearing some “dead guys” shirt, and the both of us holding Corinne. You said she was cute and disgusting all at the same time. I knew that you loved her right then.
“Chris, it’s Carrie”
“Hey” you said in your weak voice
“I came to town to see you”
“I know but I’m just not up to it today”
“I love you Chris and I miss you like crazy! Did I tell you that I’m pregnant again? Daniel and I are so excited. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
“I can’t wait either”
“Are you positive that I can’t come over? I know you’ve been sick but….”
“Left side of heaven the seventh door.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll see each other soon.”
“I promise Carrie, we’ll hang out again”
“Yeah, Promise. cough…gurgle…cough… I’ve got to go but I promise I’ll see you really soon”
I got off of the phone with you knowing that was the last time I would hear your voice. I knew you were saying goodbye but I couldn’t…I didn’t…there was no way to say goodbye to you.
Do you remember when you told me that God gave you cancer because he knew that was the only way you would serve him and that was the way you would reach people? I don’t remember what I said but I would tell you now that you were right. You moved people Chris. You changed lives by your brave approach to your disease. Even when the cancer took your leg you scoffed at it. Jumping on one leg earning the name Pogo you were even more infectious than that wide eyed Chris I knew as a child.
You died a week after that phone call. So many people got up to speak about you at your funeral and I stayed standing in the very back sobbing all the while hearing you shouting at me in my head, “Why the hell are you crying, you big baby.” I couldn’t imagine how Amy felt, burying her husband. Especially since you were barely 20 and had so much life to live. I gave her a hug, walked away, and didn’t talk to her for years. For that Chris I am very sorry. I didn’t know what to say. It took her years before she healed from your loss but that is her letter to write. I visit you every time I go to Marion. Amy plants flowers, and I usually leave flowers. Twelve years have flown by and I miss you all the time. You were the first person who I really loved that died. Sadly now that list has grown quite long but I guess that’s what happens when you love big right? You reminded me to love big, love deep, care more, and to always take a stand even if there may be a loss in the end.
You helped me to not care what people thought of me. I could have used you to lean on these last couple years. But as I write this I hear your voice right now. “Screw them Carrie, if they wanted you to write nicely about them they would have acted better.” I’m sure you would have added a little more colorful language but Jesus is probably walking with you while you’re shouting at me. I’m actually crying a little and trying not to look like the crazy lady banging her fingers on this keyboard at Starbucks. I bet you’re laughing at me!
I can never repay you for what you meant to me and I hope when I’m gone, people will write a letter like this about me. You gave me hope, strength, and bravery then, and your memory continues to do that now. You are missed.
We’ll see each other again, promise.