Chris' Goodbye Letter

     Chris' mother asked me to post this touching letter she's written to Chris. This letter will be read at his funeral on Saturday the 23rd of December.


Hi Babe!

     I was just sitting in front of the Christmas tree that awaits your special ornament and thinking about how great this holiday season would be with you home for ten whole days. We got you the camera that you wanted and a new leather jacket because yours was getting old. I finally finished the wolf needlepoint Sunday night that I showed you in August. You know, the one I have been working on for over a year. Greg got you one of the DVD's that you asked for, and he was so looking forward to giving it to you. We always had such wonderful Christmases together. Even since you left home, you still made it here for Christmas every year. Last year you could only be here for a few days, but you still came. How were we to know that would be our last one together?

     I have loved you so much and we have shared so much through your short lifetime. I always wanted you to be happy and successful as I watched you grow from infancy to adulthood. You were such a great kid with so much promise!

     Right from the beginning when Dad had to work such long hours to support us, we created such a special bond that would last a lifetime. You and I were together so much that you adopted many of my qualities, which endeared you to me even more. It was scary the way you procrastinated like me and were late all the time. I think we drove Dad crazy. And you were so sensitive to everyone's needs. One special quality of yours that I did not have was the ability to truly listen to people without comment or judgment. I especially remember hating that drive to Worcester all by myself on Friday afternoons when I picked you up at WPI, but I cherished the drive home with you when we had time to ourselves to reconnect with each other. I have to admit that it was mostly me who did the talking, but you never once admonished me for talking too much and you always were interested in what I had to say. That meant so much to me.

     Dad and I never wanted you to look back on your childhood and have regrets about us not being there for you whenever you needed us. We wanted you to have a better life than we had growing up, with better memories. I think we succeeded in that. You grew up in a loving family who supported each other in every way. There were times when Dad talked about getting a second job, but I insisted that he only worked at one job. We would make do with what we had, because it was more important that he spend as much time with us as possible. Sometimes we spoiled you, I admit. And I know that you didn't like me being so over-protective, but I needed to be that way because I never wanted anything bad to happen to you. You were so precious to us.

     When Greg was born, I knew that you resented the time that we had to spend with him because of his special needs. I knew that you were frustrated some times with the situation, but you never let on about how you felt. You were always supportive of him and us because you knew that was what we needed to do and because you loved us so much.

     You enjoyed Cub Scouts so much, and when Dad joined the Scouts, you and he were able to connect in a way that you hadn't been able to before. I know you enjoyed the time, without Greg and me there, to share things with Dad. He did, too. You loved going camping, even though you hated all the bugs. You enjoyed the times with Dad and the rest of the scout troop. We were so proud that you advanced as far as you did in scouts. And when you and Sean received the Adultare Dei award at the cathedral in Boston, my heart swelled.

     Although you were such a great confidante, you kept a lot of your feelings to yourself. It was such a shock to me when I found out when you were in high school that you had a poor self-image. You felt that you had no friends and that you were unattractive and unpopular. Having to wear glasses bothered you so much, as far as your appearance was concerned. Had I known how much it truly would have meant to you to have contact lenses then, I would have gotten them for you. I guess I just wasn't listening hard enough. As much as we tried to convince you that you had no reason to feel these things, we failed.

     You were such a smart boy your whole life. You learned to read when you were only four. Remember your alphabet door? I had written the alphabet on your bedroom door and you would point to the letters and say them all? I think you were only two or three then, in your yellow blanket sleeper. You were an excellent student during your entire time in school. Things came easy to you without much studying. How proud we were when you were accepted into the National Honor Society. Your grandfather Carter would have been beside himself with joy over your achievements, as education was always very important to him. You developed a marvelous gift for working with computers. You truly enjoyed computers and you were so knowledgeable. Whenever I called you with a computer question, you'd always quote me your consultant fee before you'd answer my questions, for which indeed you always had the answers.

     You know that we were very disappointed when you didn't succeed at WPI and ended dropping out of college. We complained that you were wasting our money and throwing away your opportunity to get a good education. That wasn't in our plan for you. Then when you ever told us that you were moving away when you were only nineteen, I was beside myself. What would I ever do without you here? Who would take care of you there? You were supposed to graduate from college, live at home for a few years to save some money, move somewhere nearby, get married, and raise a family. That was the plan.

     Well, you made your own decision and we supported you, however much we didn't agree with that decision. We knew that you had to spread your wings and fly. We wanted you to know we loved you and if we fought you on this, it would have ruined our relationship. Instead, we still stayed close to you so you would know that we would always welcome you home. We secretly hoped that you would be disillusioned with Pittsburgh quickly and return home to continue with the plan. When I watched you drive up the street, it felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest.

     At first, things were tough for you with no money or credit, a junk box for a car, no apartment, and a low paying job. Whenever you called, you needed money. We always sent it, begrudgingly, I admit. We wanted you home, yet we sent you the means by which you could stay there. We were so proud of the way that you could take off on your own like that. I never could have done that, and I respected you for your courage. I remember keeping a message that you had left on our answering machine for the longest time when you first arrived in Pittsburgh. You and everyone else thought I was strange, but no one could understand the comfort I felt when I needed to hear your voice and I could play the message back. It made your absence bearable until I could speak with you again.

     You kept telling us about all these wonderful people that you met on the Internet. They all lived in Pittsburgh. How skeptical we were. We had heard stories about people misrepresenting themselves on the net and we just hoped that wasn't the case. At one point, you were so wrapped up in these people, I was afraid it was a cult of some sort.

     And then, there was a special girl that you met and fell in love with. Andrea was her name. After all those years of feeling unpopular, you found friends and a loving relationship that you couldn't find here at home. They liked you and appreciated your qualities and accepted you just for being Chris.

     You were able to land a great job this spring at Marconi. After all the years we told you that you couldn't get a good job without a good education, you sure showed us! You told us how great it was there, and we were again skeptical, until you surprised us one day last July when you knocked on our door unexpectedly. You don't know how many times I fantasized about that actually happening. That week that you were here, I finally realized how grown up you were. You were happy and on the road to success. That was our ultimate wish for you, but you did it in your own way, just like you said you would.

     I am so glad that you were able to join us in California for vacation last August. You always wanted to go there, so when we had the opportunity to go, we wanted you to come with us, too. When you were in high school, every time we went away as a family, I would tell Dad that I wanted to do as much as possible because it might be our last vacation together. You were getting older, and we didn't know how much longer you would want to be included. We always had such wonderful times together as a family.

     When we came back from California, we all realized that you were now a man and that we probably would have no more vacations together. How prophetic! You had grown so mature and we were still trying to be the parents in control of everything that we would do, not realizing then that you had some ideas of your own. It meant so much to me that when you saw how disappointed I was in Hollywood, you surprised me by getting tickets for the show that we got to see being taped. That made me feel so good that you sensed just what I needed. That was why I was so adamant about going to Medieval Times. I knew that you really wanted to go because it was of great interest to you and Greg and you made all of the arrangements. I didn't want you to be disappointed. Although Dad wasn't crazy about the place, we had a great time. How quickly that week went. But we finally realized that you were on your way and things wouldn't be the same anymore.

     About a year or two ago, remember I told you about a young man from our church who passed away from an allergic reaction? My heart went out to his family, which was also a very close-knit one. We agreed about how scary asthma can be and that you had to be very careful. But you had lived with asthma most of your life and could usually control it. What were the odds of something like that happening to you? Well, here we are. I still can't believe this happened. I want to call you up and tell you all about this tragedy that has happened to a family that we know. But I can't.

     Your friends have been wonderful. They have set up a website dedicated to your memory. There has been such an outpouring of love from people that we never even knew, but who certainly knew you. I never really understood about the Internet everything that you tried to explain to me, but I can now appreciate the numbers of people who had that world in common with you. I am getting a new insight into your life as a man in Pittsburgh. It is very comforting for people to be able to share their thoughts with others who loved you. You would have liked it.

     You were baptized here at Blessed Sacrament. You made your First Communion here and your Confirmation, and you were an altar boy for many years. Although you have been away from the church since you began college, I know that you would want to receive your final blessing here. You lived a good life, had excellent values, never once disrespected any of those people who loved you, and always showed sensitivity to everyone you came into contact with. So there is no doubt in my mind that you belong here today.

     No, you won't physically be here with us this Christmas, but you'll be the angel on our Christmas trees for the rest of our lives. I know that you will always be here with us in our hearts.

     Remember when you used to go to bed at night, I always came in to give you a kiss and say the same thing? For the last time this time, "Goodnight, Babe! I love you!"

Love, Mom