‘OK. I’m ready to wake up now.’
This is the thought that is most frequently running through my mind. Accepting Christiano’s death is a task I am forced to perform over and over again. The truth is, I don’t want this – not any of it. It’s as if I’m caught in between two worlds – Heaven and Earth. Have you ever heard that saying, ‘I left my heart in …? New York, California, Florida? I didn’t leave my heart anywhere, but a part of it was taken from me – three months ago. It wasn’t a choice, but I certainly can’t change it. Christiano took a part of my heart with him, and I’ll never get it back as long as I’m here on this Earth.
I’ve always been one to think on the future and the potential beauty that it holds; not allowing my mind to wander backwards or give any foothold to the past. After all, what is the point? We can never go back and change the past, but we can always exercise faith and hope for a better future. There has never been reason enough to dwell on, live in or think about the past. But, that idea has changed for me. To forget the past means to forget Christiano. There has not been one day that I haven’t relived October 24, 2013, and I don’t know that there ever will be. That day comes with endless questions and unexplainable pain. And, automatically, every single time I think of that day, another day comes to my mind ; October 22, 2013. There isn’t thought of either one of the days without the other following after. They are intertwined.
October 22nd was the day we decided to completely gut out Christiano’s bedroom. We removed his couch, his bed, and a few of his things. I still regret that I don’t have his bed to sit on or to lay in. While we were cleaning out his bedroom, my cell phone rang. It was Christiano. We hadn’t heard from him in five days, which was very out of the ordinary, and I made sure I let him know that I didn’t like that. I told him that I didn’t want so much time lapsing between our communication. He understood and agreed that five days was too long. Too much time. Back then, just five days was too long not to talk to my son. We spent the rest of the time talking about his classes, volleyball, and campus life. My husband was sweeping Christiano’s bedroom floor when I handed him the phone. He told him what we had been doing to his bedroom and reassured him that by winter break, he’d have his room back. Christiano, in his easy going tone, said, ‘that’s cool, Dad.’ While they talked, my daughter told me she thought I was a little hard on him for not calling me. I hadn’t yelled or raised my voice, but she was right. I had let him know that I was disappointed in him, and I might have been a little harsh. I asked Chris to let me speak with him again before hanging up. As soon as I got the phone, I said, ‘Hey, honey. I’m sorry if I came across harsh or I made you feel like you had let me down. I just miss you and I love hearing from you.’ His heart was so responsive. He said that he completely understood and began to share some struggles he was having being away at school. He felt like he didn’t have enough time to complete all of his tasks. He told me he was overwhelmed and that college life was not all it was cracked up to be. He missed home a lot and he was hungry all the time. Oh, how every word broke my heart. I told him I was there for whatever he needed; that he never had to go hungry. I had brought him meals and sent him home with food each time he came home. He said he knew that if he needed anything I would be there, but it was what he said towards the end of the call that constantly replays in my head. ‘Mom, it’s just too hard. Life is too hard. I thought I was ready for this, but I don’t think campus life is for me. I just want to come home.’ I felt both sad and happy at the same time. Sad that he was sad, but happy that he wanted to come home. I reassured him and told him that he could stick it out until the end of the semester, but when he came home we would make arrangements for him to stay if he wanted to; that we missed him, too, and would love to have him back. I was elated inside, but tried to keep my cool. We told each other we loved each other and hung up.
The end of the semester never came. Well, it came for all the other students, but it never came for Christiano. Should I have rushed right out that night and picked him up? I wonder that, sometimes. So many significant events happened leading up to October 24th, and life changing decisions were made. Can one decision make or break a life? Or, are certain major events already predestined?Or, are they accidents? Take birth and death, for example. An unplanned baby is referred to by the world as an accident, and automobile crashes are called car accidents. By the worlds’ definition, an accident is an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause; without plan or intention. By those standards, Christiano came in to the world an ‘accident’ and an ‘accident’ took him out. Or, we can sugar coat it and use the word surprise. Either way, both words imply that Christiano’s life was unexpected and that his death was unexpected. I simply cannot believe that. Christiano’s life was the the exact opposite of an accident. His life was full of intended purpose and deliberate cause. He lived to inspire, and he did it with intention. He wasn’t just here, but he permeated life and invaded the heart of every person he met. God was involved in all of that.
Christiano was a gift from God to me; a predestined gift that He formed in my womb, while breathing His very own life into him. God is responsible for each new life that springs forth because He is the Maker and Giver of Life. We see that clearly in Psalm 139. So, how can I believe that the God who creates us; who writes us into His story is not involved in our ending? There are no accidental births or surprises with God. He knows the beginning from the end. I have to believe He was part of all of this. At the end of Psalm 139, David asks God to lead him to the way of everlasting. When you know The Lord, death isn’t final. Instead it is the beginning of dwelling in His presence forever. When I try and eliminate God from any part of this tragedy, it doesn’t make sense. It brings me more comfort to know that God held Christiano’s entire life in His hands. I don’t believe God took my son on October 24th, but I do believe that God received his very own son that day. For 6,834 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes, God trusted me to take care of him. God shared that amazing young man with me; to change me, to love me, and to teach me so much. I miss him so much, and I wish this wasn’t my story. But, it is my story. And if it came down to going through it all over again, I would say yes. I would say yes to the gift that gave me more than I could ever ask or think. I would say yes to Christiano.
This isn’t the happy ending I was hoping for, but I have to keep in mind that it isn’t over. Christiano’s life is not over. But, in a way, it’s just begun. And the piece of my heart that he is holding will one day be returned to me when we meet face to face. I have a feeling that the hugs I’m missing here will pale in comparison to a heavenly embrace. It will be amazing. But, as wonderful as it may be, I still miss him terribly; I still wish this wasn’t my life; I still have a hard time moving ahead. And, I still wish I went to pick him up on October 22nd. I don’t think it would’ve changed things, but it would’ve given me one more day with my sweet Christiano.