Christopher Ryan Smith.
How those three words grip me to my core; I love that young man! Christopher was my first nephew, a darling little toe-headed blond with a rich sparkle in his eyes. I remember chasing him around the yard, pushing him in a swing, singing songs with him, rubbing his back, swimming with him; doing all the things doting aunties do!
Christopher was creative and sensitive, his spirit was tender. He loved to talk with family members about his thoughts and ideas, he loved music, he surfed and engaged in most every water and snow sport. Christopher loved his parents, his brother Paul, and his cousins. He has a special place in his heart for his grandparents.
As a young man, full of creative plans of genius Christopher charted his own path. Off to CA to build his business and as true to his nature, he was brilliant when building ideas but over-trusting when it came to people. Along his path of learning he encountered people who would disappoint him, let him down, or use his talents and abilities for their own gain. Even in that, Christopher kept on trying to be successful with new ideas, innovative thinking, and vision.
It was incredibly endearing to watch Christopher as an uncle to his nieces. He loved those girls deeply and couldn’t help spoiling them with every toy and gadget possible. When he would show up the girls lit up like light-bulbs. Their love was richly reciprocal. My most recent memory was over a year ago he allowed those girls to dig a hole so deep in the sand that he was buried chest high!! It was fun to see him so playful with them. Another memory was around that same time in Disneyland where he went into the princess shop and decked them out in full blown princess attire; the thrill on his face was precious!
This week I learned that Christopher’s life had been taken by his business partner. The motive was money, the cover up was horribly extensive; stealing Christopher’s email and causing family members to believe he was on a business trip. In the wake of this information we are a family whose hearts have been shattered. When his life was taken we lost a son, grand-son, nephew, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, and friend. As we try to reconcile all that has taken place; we miss him more everyday.
As we turn to the Lord for grace and comfort, we accept the fact that I will never understand the “why”. I understand that we will miss him until we go home to be with Christ one day. I understand that no one will ever fill his shoes or the hole that has been left in our hearts. I understand that in order to move forward we will have to remember and value all the “good” and “amazing”, “thoughtful” and “kind” parts of Christopher without getting caught in only remembering the trauma that took him home. I also understand that we will experience the need to cry often and that’s ok too.
An untimely death, whether by disease, an accident, or trauma reminds us all, again and again, that we should never take for granted that our loved ones will always be here. Certainly, we cannot live in fear of loss, but we can make certain that our relationships are strong, that we have shared verbally how much we love and appreciate those in our lives, and we can make time for those we love. I find it challenging to find ANY good takeaway from losing our precious Christopher, but I sense God is alerting me to the simple fact that it is so important to invest in those we love intentionally.
Over a year ago on a trip I am incredibly thankful for today; I rode with Christopher in his car, we chatted and he had looked at me and said “it’s sure good to see you!” Those words are now written on my heart. Christopher Ryan Smith you made our lives richer and you will be missed every day until we see you again. Your life was ended much too soon.