Thursday, January 6, 2011

The What If Game

For the longest time I played the "What If" game.  What if Chris would have set the alarm that night?  What if Chris tripped the alarm?  What if I would have left work two hours early?  What if I would have left work a half hour early?  I even wondered what if I hadn't cleaned off my car?  That would have saved me five minutes... What if... What if... What if...The what if game is a dangerous and stressful game to play.  Besides, nobody wins.  The only trophy that you are left with is major anxiety.

Something did happen shortly after I hit my one year mark.  I don't know exactly when it happened, but I woke up one morning and I stopped playing the what if game.  It wasn't even that I refused to play it.  It was almost as if I put it away in the attic and it's now collecting dust along with all the forgotten games of yesterday.

But lately, it's been creeping up.  Almost like those old cartoons where it grows arms and legs and just sneaks up on you.  However, it's disguising itself.  It's clever, it's still the "what if" game.  But, it's slightly different now.  It knows that I don't want to play by the old rules, so it's changed.  Now it's tapped into a new fear.  What if people stop remembering Chris?  What if people stop talking about Chris?  What if people won't say his name anymore?  What if Chris is forgotten?

I want people to talk to me about him.  I want people to say his name to me.  I set up a memorial page so that people can remember him and share stories and pictures about him.  But, I'm afraid that people are forgetting him. I want to hear about the crazy stuff that he did before we met (know that he did some crazy stuff.)  I want to see pictures of him from when he was a teenager.  I want to know all about his life before I was a part of it.  And I want to share the life that we had with the world.  I don't want Chris to be forgotten.

Say Chris

The time of concern is over. No longer am I asked how I am doing.
Never is the name of my partner mentioned to me. A curtain descends.
The moment has passed. A life slips from frequent recall.
There are exceptions … close and comforting friends, sensitive and loving family.
For most, the drama is over. The spotlight is off. Applause is silent.
But for me, the play will never end. The effects are timeless.

Say Chris to me.

On the stage of my life, he has been both lead and supporting actor.
Do not tiptoe around the greatest event of my life. Love does not die.
His name is written on my life. The sound of his voice replays within my mind.
You feel he is dead. I feel he is of the dead and still lives.
You say he was my partner. I say he is.

Say Chris to me and say Chris again.

It hurts to bury his memory in silence.
What he was in the flesh has now turned to ash.
What he is in spirit, stirs within me always.
He is of my past, but he is part of my present. He is my hope for the future.
You say not to remind me. How little you understand that I cannot forget.
I would not if I could.
I forgive you, because you cannot know.

I strive not to judge you, for yesterday I was like you.
I do not ask you to walk this road. The ascent is steep and the burden heavy.
I walk it not by choice. I would rather walk it with him in the flesh.
I am what I have to be. What I have lost you cannot feel. What I have gained you cannot see.

Say Chris, for he is alive in me.

He and I will meet again, though in many ways we have never parted.
He and his life play light songs on my mind,
sunrises and sunsets on my dreams.
He is real and he is shadow.
He was and he is.
He is my partner and I love him as I always did.

Say Chris to me and say Chris again.

(This poem was rephrased and based on the book “Saying Olin to Goodbye” by Donald Hackett.)


  1. Chris will never be forgotten...ever. While I was saddened by the lack of anyone going to his page on Christmas.. or new years... or basically anytime, I refuse to believe he is slipping away as a faded memory. He has touched too many lives in one way or another. I refuse to believe he is gone...and still here and just not calling me. I see his pictures and I want to cry...but looking at his smile, or his hair, or him looking profound for a moment...makes him alive. He is alive within us... within our memories... and I relive them constantly. Chris will always be that bright-eyed, little kid brother, who got on my nerves, or made me laugh, or got me in trouble, or gave me comfort by being there even when i wanted to be alone. So many times I wish desperatley to go back to being young again, to have the family all together again. Chris was an awesome dude... I envy my little brother for his ability to make friends out of nowhere, to give so freely - even when he had nothing. He was courteous, kind and loving. He was a pain in the ass, and funny. He was still finding his way, and getting there. He was a man... no longer the woodstock looking, squirrley, into everything little boy... but a man, a father, a son and a brother. He was my brother... His name is Chris.
    If life were a game, I would say this sucks, I want a do-over and restart this level. Life isnt a game... its precious. Its sacred... its cherished. I was lucky enough to be born into my family, and have the people in my life that I do. I would not trade it for anything in this world. Chris is never forgotten...I love you Chris... May God take you into His arms and show you peace and benevolence like you never felt before. I love you...

  2. I didnt have the pleasure of knowing Chris, or you before the loss of him. I do know and understand this feeling you are having. We have to make sure WE dont forget them. Kudos to you for saying it out loud!

  3. Thank you for this post. So true.

  4. I so wish I had known Chris - from your stories and memories of him, he sounds like such an amazing person. I also understand this fear - the fear that others will forget, that his life will slip away, unnoticed by the rest of the world. He will always have you though. You will always be holding that candle for him, just as I do for Craig. This is the very last thing we can do for them. **hugs**