June 14, 2014
Get Up.
Go On.
Do Great Things.

About Chris

Many have asked to know more about Chris. It is hard to write this story, we admit. We try very hard to keep the website as professional as possible, but when we talk about Chris (a name which we never called him by the way), we cannot talk about him and maintain the "professional" attitude. So, professionalism has been set aside for this page, and we beg your understanding.

Chris, or Christopher as we called him, was and is our son and brother. There are so many words that we can use to describe Chris. Some would call him crazy (in the most affectionate sense of the word, of course!), some would call him caring, most would call him funny, and all would say he was one in a million. He was the person everyone wanted to talk to when they had problems, he was the kid on Friday afternoons telling all of his friends "Don't drink and drive.", "Make sure you wear your seat belt!", "Think past the next five minutes." He was the kid who listened to his music a little too loud, and played his bass a little too long. He wore baggy rock t-shirts and Converse. His favorite thing to do was "hang out". He loved to fish, loved to talk, and loved to drive with the windows down with a good friend beside him. He loved his friends, loved his family, loved his God, loved his country, loved his home, and loved his life.

Chris had just started his Junior year at Vancleave High School in the fall of 2009. He was looking forward to playing soccer on the Varsity team, and was excited about driving to school. He got his class ring just a few weeks before school started. It's funny the things you think of after losing someone special. That ring was the last "major" purchase we made for our son.

Just six weeks into the 2009-2010 school year, on September 18, 2009, Christopher passed away from injuries sustained as a result of a single vehicle accident. He was on his way home from his girlfriend's house. He had just had one of the best days of his life, and that is thanks to the special girl he was seeing at the time. No one really knows how or why the accident occurred. The police report said there were no other cars involved; Christopher was not speeding, was not texting, and was not on his cell phone. He was wearing his seat belt, his air bag deployed as it should have. So, what happened? We don't know. We know that around 9:40 on a Friday night, his truck went off the road, hit a small embankment, and then a pine tree. One second he was on his way home, the next, he was in Heaven. What is so ironic about this night, is before he left our house to take his girlfriend home, Christopher made a point to tell us each that he loved us. It was more than just an "I love you", he called each of us out saying, "I love you, Mama", "I love you, Daddy", "I love you, Poohey". Then, his final words to us as he walked out the door: "I love you, guys".

As one of Christopher favorite characters Forrest Gump, would say, "That's all I'm gonna say about that."

Many have told us over the past nine months how special our Christopher was to them. He was special to us. Of course, he was our son and brother, so that makes us a little biased. We aren't sure what made Christopher so special to others. But there was something about him that made people want to know him. Maybe it was the way he carried himself - arms wide open, smile radiating, wild red hair blowing. Maybe it was the way that he made us feel when we talked to him. Like you were the only person in the world at that moment and he was completely focused on you. It could be that Chris took people the way they presented themselves to him. It never mattered if you were popular, a jock, a goth, a nerd, a liberal, a conservative...all were treated the same by Chris. That was obvious at his funeral service. We were stunned by the many faces in the sanctuary, and even more stunned by the vast array of "groups" that came together that day. A guy in football jersey sitting next to a guy dressed in black with his eyes circled with black eyeliner. A cheerleader sitting next to a punk girl. All of them brought together to say goodbye to someone they all called their friend.

Some things about Chris...he was absolutely one of a kind. He had a quick wit and a sense of humor that sometimes was misunderstood by his peers; adults on the other hand would just look in surprise then, smile and shake their heads as he would skip away laughing...His love for America was unparalleled. Chris understood more about the politics of this nation than most adults and had no problem holding a conversation about the political climate of this and other nations of the world. On a more local level, Chris joined a group on Facebook called "Vancleave United". His first post on the group discussion board, which he titled "First Motion :D", encouraged his friends to go out of their way to talk to someone they never would have talked to before. We have been told that a lot of students at Vancleave High School honored their friend by doing just that.

Chris was proud of his community and his school. He was especially proud of the Vancleave High School soccer team. Chris used to watch sports themed movies to find encouraging words to share with his teammates on the bus going to away games. Our family has watched the speech given by Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 USA Hockey team, more times than anyone can possibly imagine. Chris thought that speech was so energizing. He used parts of it to encourage his own teammates. He loved being on the team, and through the team he made some great friends, not only at Vancleave, but at other schools along the Gulf Coast. Vancleave's first soccer game of the 2009 - 2010 school year was at Pass Christian High School. We were taken aback by the outpouring of love and honor both teams showed our Christopher during that game. Pass Christian hung banners all around the soccer field and held a ceremony before the game started. Both teams played a man down for the first five minutes of the game, paying tribute to their soccer buddy. It was an emotional day for our family and for the VHS soccer team. The team played a great game though, and seeing the orange butterflies floating across the field confirmed for everyone that Chris' spirit was there playing right along with them.

Since Christopher went to Heaven, we have been astounded by the stories we've been told. On more than one occasion, a parent told us that if it weren't for our son, their child would not be here. One conversation was with a mom of one of Chris' school mates. She told us how Christopher called her at work one day to tell her to check on her daughter. The daughter had been going through a rough time, and he felt she was "going to do something". The mom took action and found her daughter had overdosed. She was taken to the hospital where they pumped the young girl's stomach to save her. That family has not left our side since our Christopher passed away. On Christopher's birthday, we received a message from a young girl who in reference to Christopher, said "He had such a positive influence on me, and he saved my life. He talked me out of committing suicide and helped me quit self-inflicting." This young lady continues to keep Chris' words of advice and his friendship close to her heart. She is a beautiful girl, whom we know will continue to grow and thrive. We are thankful and humbled that our son and brother had such an impact on her life.

Christopher always had a big heart for children. We aren't sure if it was his crazy red hair, his bright smile, or just his personality, but kids were drawn to him as well. A little boy at our church told us recently: "I really miss your son. He was nice." That statement was so profound. It left us thinking, "Yea. He was nice." And so much more than that. He was caring and compassionate. Chris went on mission trips with his church to help a homeless shelter in Tennessee a few years ago. Prior to that, he went on a mission trip to Louisiana to help a community there. Each year, Chris, along with his church youth group, would help the local community in beach clean ups, food collections for local food pantries, participate in the 30 Hour Famine to raise funds and awareness for world hunger, and work booths at an annual fair to help raise funds for many local youth organizations.

We could go on and on about Chris. There are so many more things we could tell you - like how he scared his mom to death when he, his dad, and his sister thought it would be a good idea for him to bungee jump. We could tell you about his first international flight, when he ended up in the cockpit and the pilots let him talk on the intercom - imagine our pride when we heard his five year old little voice say "Hi Mama". We could tell you about how he held on to his mama's shoulders when we had to put our old basset hound down; or how he and his little sister transformed the kitchen into a fort made of tables, chairs, sheets and sleeping bags; or about the time he drove his sister around in the yard because we weren't ready for him to drive his truck out of the driveway yet. We could tell you how proud he was the day his dad retired from the military; or how Chris and his dad would spend hours talking about music and life and how a life could change in the blink of an eye. Like ours did.

We hope we have given you some insight to the kind of kid Christopher was, and the kind of spirit he is. We look to the stars to see him, and listen to the song of the birds to hear him. He was and is our son and brother. And we miss him terribly.

May 2010