I grasp at anything; anything that will connect me with my boy – even if only for a moment. To walk where he walked, to touch where he touched, to see what he saw, to feel what he felt. Yesterday, I was privileged to do all of those things. We went ice skating with Christiano’s friends, at the Bank Of America City Center Rink. A friend of ours put the event together in honor of Christiano. There were at least forty-two people that came out. I was blessed and a little blown away. It was special just to be there, since that was the first and only rink that Christiano ever skated on. Thankfully, we have his first time captured on video. His experience was pretty messy. He held lots of hands and had quite a few falls, and I got to watch my daughter have almost the same experience. She held lots of hands, but there were no falls for her. My two little guys, on the other hand, had plenty. It was so wonderful to stand with our loved ones where Christiano once stood.
As I looked around and saw all the laughter and fun going on, I was reminded of the great life Christiano lived. I will probably never understand why it was cut so short, but in those short eighteen years – Christiano lived. He lived, and he also loved.
Lately, that is all I want to do; I want to live fully and love wholly. I’ve always loved people, but now I can’t seem to get enough of them. I have had to put myself out there and talk with a lot of people; some that I have never met before or still barely know. And, it is all to talk about this boy that I so intimately love. It is a love that is sacred to me, so, at times, I am tempted to keep it all for myself and fasten a ‘No Trespassing’ sign to my heart. But, again – I love people and I thoroughly enjoy getting to know my son through other sets of eyes. I’m drawn to anyone who knows him, but especially those who love him; who spent time with him and invested in him. I enjoy talking to his friends mostly; the ones who hung out with him. They always have something awesome to say, and I get to catch a glimpse of their relationship with Christiano. It is as if I’m gaining a new piece of some puzzle or the missing page in the story has been found. Fortunately, there were many friends from all different places that came out yesterday. Some were family, some were friends from church, some came from our neighborhood, some he went to high school with, and some were his roommates at college. For me, just another reminder of how many lives Christiano touched. Everyone had a great time, for it was a beautiful day in every way. Lots of laughter, shouts of joy, and conversations overheard; and even more funny sights to see. Towards the end of our time, I asked (or flagged down, maybe) a stranger to take our picture, and we got a beautiful group photo of the event. I’m so grateful for that. When you are photographing a group that large, there are no guarantees that a stranger is going to put all that much effort into taking it, but she did great! She snapped many photos, and all were decent. As I looked through them right then and there, I got all choked up. I’m still in awe that these young people care so much – about Christiano and about us.
After the photo, some people started getting ready to head out. I took that opportunity to talk with some of Christiano’s college roommates. I had only seen them briefly throughout the services. Although, we did our best to converse, we didn’t get to talk with them as much as I would have liked. Ed, the young man who shared a room with Christiano in their eight person suite, has kept in touch with me via Facebook. He’s a great kid, and he misses Christiano a lot. They are all such wonderful boys, and since it could not be us, I’m glad that they are the ones that Christiano spent his last two months of his life with. Steven, another of the suite mates, shared some common interests of he and Christiano. They met at orientation and purposely selected each other to be roomies. They both swam, both have a younger brother, and are both extremely tall. Steven shared with me about the time Christiano had joined him and a couple of roommates to go see ‘Gravity’ at the IMAX in Providence Place. He explained to me what an incredible movie it was, and for a second it brought me back to when Christiano shared his same thoughts on the film. But, it was what he said after that melted my heart. He told me that when they were leaving the theater, Christiano said, ‘Hey, we should stop by my house. My mom will probably bake us cookies.’ That touched me in an immense way. My son knew where he stood with me. He knew that I loved him and that I would drop everything and bake him and his friends some cookies. He knew ME.
Every time a little something like this happens, the connection that he and I share is reestablished in my heart. It wipes away the fear of forgetting and the pain of regret. It is as if they are all key witnesses who have been sent to offer insight. They provide testimony of certain aspects of Christiano’s life that I never would have known, had they not come forward. I will keep expecting these encouraging confirmations to come to me, and I will continue to seize every opportunity to walk where he walked, to see what he saw, to touch what he touched, and to know what he knew. And he knew; he knew his momma loved him enough to preheat the oven on at midnight, to get the mixer out, to measure out ingredients – and to welcome him with open arms anytime and every time. And, on that sweet day, when we are reunited he will be the one to welcome me. He will be the one who has touched, tasted and seen God in all of His divine glory, and once again, I will be walking where he walked before me. But, until that day, he surrounds me and roots for me with all of the other great witnesses that have gone home before us.
Hebrews 12:1, says:
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…’
Thank you to all of those who came out yesterday! We love and appreciate you., all.