It’s now been a year since Mike’s brother, Chris, passed away after his family was in a car accident. He passed on January 4th, and we buried him on January 8th. Mike’s birthday.

My first memory of Chris was at our wedding. I had just married the most incredible man in my life, my best friend, and NOW it was time to meet his other two brothers! I remember being very nervous, feeling awkward about meeting them on the same day that I entered their family. Mike introduced us, and I could not for the life of me tell Chris and Kevin apart. I knew Chris was the cop, so that made him sound much more intimidating to me! I was also fascinated, because I never often thought about the lives of cops off-duty, and here was Chris, off-duty cop and brother-in-law! 🙂

Fast forward two months to Thanksgiving. Mike and I were at his grandparents’ house for the holiday weekend, and it was in the afternoon when we heard a knock at the door. I looked up as the door opened, and Tanner (Chris’ son) entered first, the mini version of his father and decked out in hunting gear. Chris walked in behind him, wearing the same thing and hailing the family. We went into the kitchen and sat down at the table to hang out for awhile. I remember the boys all swapping funny stories, simply for the sake of making everyone else laugh. Jonathan told an incredibly amusing story involving his going hunting with Christie’s family and getting lost (that is, left behind) with a gun, no hunting license, a fancy black overcoat and a cup of Starbucks in hand. Chris had tears streaming down his face, he was laughing so hard, and I remember that laugh vividly.

I also have one memory of Chris with Kasey and Keyleigh. We went to say goodbye to them before we left the day after Thanksgiving, and I was admiring their Christmas decorations, and Kasey pointed out a recliner that she wanted to get rid of, laughing about how Chris wouldn’t let her get rid of it. Chris teased her back, explaining how he wouldn’t get rid of that chair until she found one just as good – he loved it. And Keyleigh crawled on the furniture in her excitement at having company, and Chris told her to get down, in the gentle yet final way that I admire in people from the country. It was just a glimpse of the sweet young family – the only glimpse I got, and it was full of love, and it was comfortable, and it was everyday.

That’s what I have. It’s what I remember. One year later, I wanted to write something on the 4th, or on the 8th. Something to remember Chris. But I didn’t know him well – I only met him on those two occasions. I sit here, wishing I had more to write. Thinking, selfishly, how unfair it is that I will only have those few memories and will have to accept learning about the rest of who Chris was through his incredible family and friends. But it’s wonderful to remember what I do. It’s even more wonderful to continue to hear the stories from Chris’ family and friends, and to read this blog entry from Mike, who admired and learned from his brother even after January 4th, 2009.