My dear friends,
Thank you, God, for giving us such a beautiful day to lay my sweet husband in his final resting place. As I stood in the bright clear sunshine with the people that we both loved, I felt you and Chris with me. Today for me was more about ritual instead of goodbye. Chris' spirit, his soul, his heart have been with our God for ten days. What we buried today was simply his shell in a beautiful wooden box. Looking at that box did not bring me sadness - because Chris is in one of the many rooms that God prepares for us, moving through them, making friends just as he always has. As I said as part of the open prayer this morning, Chris lives on in the soft brown eyes and dimpled chin of our daughter, the smiles of his friends, the warmth and love of both of our families, and in the beautiful memories that bring me joy.
His memorial service last night was amazing. It is exactly the type of service he would have wanted. Simple, straightforward, and focused on celebrating his life. His friends gave eulogies that were candid, thoughtful, moving, and hilarious. All of us, all 500 people who were packed into our church, laughed, and smiled and remembered Chris as he really was - joyful, funny, and always there for those who needed him. From the front pew I listened to them remember their friend, their brother, and knew that Chris was above us listening and laughing with us.
We have had an enormous group of people reach out to us during this difficult time. The outpouring of support is such a testament to the effect that Chris had on people, and it is beautiful to witness. So many people have told me that what I have been writing is inspiring-or that they are amazed by my strength. But I want to be clear - any strength I have is a gift from above. A gift given to me by God and my husband to help me through this unbelievably trying time. And it is a gift that I will accept with an open heart while it is given.
I certainly have times of incredible sadness. Usually when it is quiet, when I have a moment to myself. In those times it is easier to slip into darkness. But so far, even in those moments, I don't feel lost or scared - just mournful. Last week I saw a dear friend who is struggling with an illness, and who has managed to have keep her spirits high. I asked her how, and she said, "I pray constantly." I realized at the moment that while I had been talking to Chris, I had not been talking to God. I don't know why, maybe I was angry or afraid, but at moment I thought of a simple prayer. "God thank you for Chris. Please give me strength, serenity, patience and purpose." As I say those words, I feel like I can breathe again, and I have been saying them constantly.
In Chris' memorial service, I asked that we say the words from 1st Corinthians 13 -even though they usually appear in a wedding ceremony: "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
This is the way that Chris loved me, loved Colleen, loved his family and friends. Someday I know I will see my dear husband face to face – until then, I will continue love him in this way, and take peace in the memory of his love and his life.