Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not in Vain

Hi, I'm back again as promised!

I have a lot of random thoughts to share with you tonight.

First of all, I read this after I posted about the trip to DC and thought it connected quite well.

"On this planet, we share an awareness of injustice because we have a deep, foundational sense that there ought to be justice. There is a standard that defines right and wrong, good and evil. We may differ on where that line is but we do not differ that there is a line."

 -Billy Sprague in Ice Cream as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe (Yes, that is the title of a rather thoughtful, delightful book about theology. My friend Chelsea knows me well!)

Then tonight I watched this video about how Wal-Mart should raise their wages since many of their employees are on food stamps. (it would cause an overall 1.4% in their prices to pay their employees like the video suggested) I really liked what the video said except for one thing but that's a whole different issue. If you would like to chat with me sometime about SNAP and other public assistance, I'd love to hear your opinions.

So, where to begin about life lately. I had a rough few weeks with my job at the school, but I'm back on the up-swing now. What carried me through that time? What made my feet walk toward that school on those days? Well, my pride was one thing. ha. The LORD, definitely. I couldn't get through a day, no, an hour, without Him! Encouragement from folks like you all, absolutely! And these quotes:

"If I have helped one person then my life shall not be in vain." 

 

I can't find the original source, but it's on a mural in North Lawndale (Chicago)

and

"Forgive me, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day I have done or said anything to increase the pain of this world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where I had the opportunity, but missed it; and enable me so to live that I may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness."


-Prayer to Do Good (F.B. Meyer England, 1847-1929) (from my Lenten Daily Devotional through YouVersion)

That's what carries me through. As I walk out the door each morning, I know that my efforts will not be in vain if I can even help one person. And I have to say, Ms.D. is so appreciative and affirming to me that I know no matter what the day holds, I know that I can bring a smile to her face and somehow make her day as a teacher a little less crazy. (have you ever been in a room with over 30 second graders? you know what I mean.)

One reason why it was a little difficult at Spencer a few weeks ago: (Confession alert!) I let a 7-year-old hurt my feelings. It's pretty embarrassing but, alas, it is true. You remember Markell? He was the little guy who always gives his artwork to Ms. D. because it doesn't get appreciated at home. After hearing that, I tried to buddy up to him, take him under my wing, be a nice person who cared about him. It was all going very well until about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Basically he had a rough day, I had to discipline him, and then he got really mad at me and said mean things. "I hope Mr. Bonner fires you" (Mr. Bonner isn't even my boss but Markell tried to tell me that he was.) "You do too much, Ms. Clarissa. I don't like you." "I'm not coming to Build anymore because I don't like you." So, after school that day, I asked Megan to meet me at Dairy Queen for comfort food. Which she did :)

Things with Markell got better. I gave him space, but still said Hi to him and gave help when he asked for it. The next week he even hugged me and said "see you after school!"with a SMILE. Today he walked into class and gave me a hug, too. Then I saw him and another girl getting into a fight and went to investigate. They were shooting rubber bands at each other and then went at it with their fists. Anyway, Markell kept going after her with rubber bands and tried smuggling them into his pockets so I took him out for a time-out with another teacher. He said those same mean things to me, and tried to tell me that I didn't care about him. That's the only part that was really hurtful- I can put up with the attitude to an extent, but it really hurts me to think that these kids don't think I care about them. Anyway, I assured him that I did care about him and I know he can do better, which is why he was disciplined. That, and I care about the other kids enough to not want them to get rubber bands shot in their faces.

So, the battle with Markell today made me realize that he associates someone caring about him with letting him do whatever the heck he wants. He and his brother give me the impression that they are the bosses at home and they can walk all over their parents. So, Markell doesn't like me because I make him follow the rules. And I'm ok with that. He actually did come to after school today despite his threats not to. Not that his attitude changed at all, but that's his problem and not mine. I'm tired of his drama, so I'm not going to listen when he talks like a diva to me. But I will always smile at him and be there when he needs me, because that's what I'm here for. Booyah!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Marching On (corny but true)



Hey, sorry that I have been a major slacker in the blog department lately. I don't know about you all but March was a crazy busy month for me! I went out of state 3 weekends in a row- Skiing in Wisconsin with Chelsea and our friend Julia, Amy and Aaron's wedding (in Kansas), and then to a conference in Washington DC.Then, last weekend my old roomies Michelle and Kelsey came to visit!

Skiing was really fun. Wisconsin skiing is nothing like the Rockies but it was still pretty fun. Some of Julia's friends came with us too. Sunday we also went to New Glarus, a small town with a brewery (Spotted Cow, anyone?), and took at tour of their brewing facilities. and may or may not have taken a few samples, too ;) Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures because I forgot my camera :(

My sister got married March 15th near Sabetha, Kansas. It was so fun and refreshing to spend some time with family again. It was a really busy weekend and flew by so quickly. We had a reception in McPherson the night of the wedding that many old friends came to. It was really great to see so many familiar faces that day. It was very really cool to see how people came together and offered so much support to Amy and Aaron as they began married life. It was also really nice for me to see so many loving, familiar faces who offered me a lot of encouragement as well.  Sorry I don't have more legit pictures to share- I currently only have the few that I took with my camera plus a couple from Facebook.

Friday morning a bunch of us ventured out for some fun at a park near our hotel!
My niece Anna & cousin Jacob playing at a park near our hotel.

Dawwww :) Photo credit: Whitney Cathleen Photography



These cuties were fabulous flower girls!

Getting in some last minute hugs before everybody flew the coop on Sunday.
That Sunday I stopped to see my friend Shelby who had just completed her VERY LAST CHEMO TREATMENT!!!! so very proud of her for being so positive throughout the illness and never giving up! She has about a month of radiation treatments now, but the worst is definitely behind her.

Then I went home and had a good cry by Rosie's grave. It was sad to relive her death but felt good to be there and see where my dad lovingly laid her to rest. I'm tearing up again just writing about it.
Lexie

Rosie's view :) Dad picked a good spot


Then this the next weekend I was able to attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC with my roommates and Krista. It was basically a conference/gathering of Christians to talk/learn about issues relating to peace. The 2 main issues we focus on were gun violence and military spending. It was very good for me to be immersed in this group of really passionate people and talk about these political issues although it was a little uncomfortable at times. I'm not a super active or passionate person when it comes to politics but this experience was pretty convicting for me that I would like to be more informed and involved in some of these issues.

The only thing I did not like about the conference was that all of the information was very one sided. All of the presenters and what felt like most all of the attendees had pretty liberal stances on these issues. That's great for them but I really value hearing all sides of an argument before I form a solid opinion. All of the liberal arguments were respectable and made pretty good sense to me but I would have liked to have heard some counter arguments. Or even better, a good OBJECTIVE description of the issues with pros and cons of each view!

So there were all sorts of workshops and such, which were pretty good. I went to one about wage standards in the US. It was pretty interesting- the minimum wage (currently $7.25) is well below the poverty line for a family of 3 (working full-time). There are some people working FOR THE GOVERNMENT in kitchens, etc in federal buildings who don't make minimum wage, let alone receive any benefits. Isn't that ridiculous? Disclaimer: All this information came from the workshop presenters. Perhaps there is a missing piece to the puzzle that can explain this discrepancy??? Anyone??

Anyway, the whole weekend was designed to gear up toward lobby day on Monday, when we all split up into our respective states and went to Capitol Hill to talk to our legislators. There were 6 or so of us from Kansas. Most of us were able to attend meetings with both reps from Senators Roberts and Moran and then we split up into our congressional districts to meet with our House Representatives. Unfortunately Sarah and I couldn't get an apppointment with Rep. Huelskamp's office but we left a handout.

The meetings were pretty interesting-- going with a group of liberals to present liberal ideas to elected officials (or their staffers) from a pretty conservative state. We went into the meetings knowing that we would receive some pushback (most of our reps have voted "100% pro-gun" and a lot of constituents support this) but it was interesting and valuable to hear about how we could reach some middle ground. We can all agree that gun violence is very real and very horrible. People have a right to feel safe. It's just a matter of how you go about achieving safety and peace.

Dinner banquet Sunday night
Photo credit: Sarah Ullom-Minnich

This awesome girl, Sarah, is from Moundridge and currently doing a year with Brethren Volunteer Service in Chicago! We met each other at church one day in Chicago (and became friends), and then I saw her unexpectedly at EAD! We were lobby day partners on Monday!

It was pretty empowering for me to walk around the National Mall and talk to legislators. I had always known that these people were elected to represent the people of Kansas, but had never really thought of them as MY representatives. So I really kind of do have a say in what happens in the government. HA!

View from our hotel!


Missed the cherry blossoms


All right, folks. That's all I've got for now, but stay tuned for another post on how life has been for me back in Chicago lately! As always, prayers and words of encouragement are greatly appreciated!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More than a Workout

Hello!

I wanted to share about my day Sunday. Back story: I am a member of a fitness center in my neighborhood and try to go at least 3 times a week. It started out as just a personal desire to stay fit, then it became a way for me to work toward goals like running a 5k, then it became a way for me to feel connected with my community. I meet some really cool people there. I don't know a lot of them super well, but would like to get to know them better in the next 5 months. They are all very friendly and it's a great feeling to be able to go somewhere where people recognize you, greet you by name, and ask how you are. It's like you belong there. It's a pretty big deal for me to feel like I belong in my community, and I love the feeling of belonging I get by just being a active (punny!) member at the fitness center!

I met this guy there named Leroy. He's pretty intimidating at first, a big 6 ft 6 African American man with big muscles, but what do ya know he and I became friends! I see Leroy quite often at the FC and he has invited me to church several times. We've had some interesting conversations about church. He is a member of a Church of Christ in the neighborhood and somehow we got to talking one day. He seems to have the perspective that the C of C is the only true church, that it existed long before the catholic church even. I don't really like how that view diminishes other churches and believers but will respectfully agree to disagree.

Anyway so I went to his church Sunday night. I arrived about 5 minutes before the service was to start and walked  into the sanctuary not realizing that there was a meeting going on. Oops. The only people in the room were middle-aged black men. I walked in and started desperately searching for Leroy while all heads turned in my direction and a couple of men asked "can we help you young lady?" Haha. Thankfully Leroy was there and he escorted me out of the "brother meeting" I had accidentally interrupted.

The service was good, I enjoyed it. It was very different and not totally in my comfort zone haha but it was a very good experience. The songs were sung a Capella. Not the neat, ridiculously good a Capella like at some (Mennonite) churches I have been to but it was more vivacious and free-spirited! It was great. The first song was "I'm in a gloryland way" and it was so fun! I love me some good ole gospel, it is good for the soul. If you need a little gospel pick-me-up, click here and let the Statler Brothers sing your blues away!

The preacher spoke with a loud, unrestrained style that reminded me of MLK since he put so much passion and fire into the words he shared. It made me wonder what his blood pressure was! Now, this was slightly intimidating to little Clarissa. I come from a very quiet family in which we pretty much never yelled at home let alone at church! So it was very different but kind of exciting.

Afterward, I started to feel kind of proud of myself for going to this church in the first place. A few years ago I don't think I ever would have done something like this on my own. I guess I'm finally starting to grow up!

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Interesting Experiences

Hey friends,

The last few weeks have been busy and fun with work events, retreats and such.

At the end of January, my roommates, Krista and I attended an "intensive 2-day training" on community organizing from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. JD invited us to go so that we could learn more about the intentions behind doing outreach at the schools, and hopefully start to actually engage parents in some of these issues (rather than just handing them a flyer and being done with it). It was a pretty cool training. We talked about some events from history that were founded in community organizing- women's suffrage, civil rights, etc. We also talked about building relationships, holding meetings, how you need to act as a leader, power, all kinds of stuff.

One principle from the training was pretty intriguing to me- "World as it is vs World as it should be". I think it's fairly intuitive once you get the concept but anyway we live in the world as it is (broken, mean, crappy, sad, corrupt, etc) but have this hope/dream of the world as it should be (happy, nice, caring, fair, just, harmonious). As organizers we're caught in between the two worlds. It's important to live in both worlds because if you get too caught up in one or the other you simply won't be effective.

It's funny because they kind of put words to how I've been feeling this year. I live in this really broken community and get so sad and frustrated thinking "How did this happen?" How can people treat others this way?" "WHY?!?!". You get the picture. In those moments of despair, I'm caught in the world as it is. It's hopeless, it's beyond repair. There's nothing I can do so why try? Whereas sometimes I am oblivious to the world as it is and think everything is as it should be or that it will all work out in the end. This may be comforting, but it's too idealistic and not realistic. Looking at the world this way won't inspire me to make any changes.

So, it was kind of cool to see this emotion/floating idea actually explained to me before my eyes. It's like I'm not alone or something! Later, when we were reflecting on the training, Megan said she felt the same way! How bout that!

Then, a couple weeks later I was at the bus stop waiting for the Madison bus to take me away for another day at Spencer. There was this guy there who started talking to me. His name was Kenneth. He had just been released from jail and was on his way to a girl's house where he'd been staying before. He kept saying how he'd been messing (I sensored that) up even just since coming out of jail. He said repeatedly that he really wanted to do things right this time- get a job, not fall into bad habits again. However, he was already kicking himself for some mistakes since he'd been out of jail less than 24 hours. He really wanted to get a job and make things right. He was worried that this girl he was staying with might be mad at him for some reason and kick him out. In which case he would be in a real rough spot. He said he had food, so that was good. I gave him the name and address of a shelter/non-profit in the neighborhood where he could go for help. I don't know how he's doing now obviously, but I hope he found what he was looking for.

Then, once I got on the bus a guy sat down next to me, a guy (Jamal) who was clearly on the drunk side. He'd been at the post office looking for his social security check.  He'd adopted three kids and needed that check for something. I asked if he had a job and he said no, and didn't really want one. I asked why he didn't want a job and he said he did just fine supporting them with social security and "I hustle and sh*t on the side too". Ha. Wow. I didn't really know how to react to that.
 I kind of pushed him a little bit, asking why he didn't want to work and serve as an example to his kids. He said he did try to be a good example. Talked some more. Then later he said he did want a job. Haha. Who knows.

This was an interesting and challenging encounter. I've always known that people abuse systems with government assistance, but here was one such person right in the seat next to me, unashamed of the way he supported himself and his family. Yikes. It's just hard for me to understand this because it's totally not how I was raised. *Side note: if you've met anyone in my family, especially my dad or Amy, you know what I mean. They are always so stinkin productive!* I value a work ethic and being productive.(Don't get me wrong though, I do love me some lazy pajama days too.) But I still feel somewhat guilty and worthless after a lazy day with zero productivity. I usually at least bake or do laundry or something to show for. It was just weird to meet someone who really didn't seem to care how he spent his days and made his money. It's tough to show love to someone when they have totally different values.

Hope ya'll are doing well! Sending my love!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

That January Feeling

So, my last post was a little depressing. No guarantees, but I will try and make this one better :)

To start things off on a happy note, a few weeks ago I was able to go to Amy's bridal showers in Fairbury, Illinois! I took the Amtrak down which was super fun and easy (so much more chill than flying!)
Shower #2 (Aaron's mom's side)

Shower #1 (Aaron's dad's side)

Aaron's youngest sister and mom


dawwww :)


Aaron's sisters put skittles in their Sprite :)

It was so good to see Amy again, especially since this fell in the midst of my sad funk right after Rosie died. It was also really nice to meet some of Aaron's family. He has a really huge family so I don't remember half the people, but they were all very welcoming and friendly. I'm glad that Amy is marrying into a nice family!

Sooooo January. At the beginning of the month, Krista warned us/explained that this is the time of year when lots of YAVs start feeling a little down/frustrated/unhappy. You're far enough into the year that excitement has worn off and you probably find some aspects not so glorious, but still have a long ways to go. And it's wintertime. I wasn't too worried at first since I felt like I kind of experienced that in December. But, to be honest, I did experience the January blues. Again.

It's one of those annoying moods when the littlest things start to bug you. "the water has been running for 3 minutes and it's still not warm" "the house is messy" "no one shovels their sidewalks" "wah the wind is so cold!" You get the point. Yes, it's slightly childish. But I'm thinking/hoping that I'm not the only one who's been through this.

I'm also at the point in the year when I was hoping to have life figured out a little bit more-aka knowing what to do after YAV! Yeah, that's not happening. I'm learning what I like and don't like. I loooove having a flexible schedule, but I know that's probably not realistic for a big girl job. I do not like big classroom settings (too many kids/noise/chaos for little introverted Clarissa). I do really like the school setting, however. I like working directly with people, but find it a little exhausting at times. So do I do another YAV year? Maybe something like AmeriCorps? Get a big kid job? In Chicago? Denver? Virginia? Kansas? I have no idea. Prayers are most welcome and appreciated! :)

So, that sums up the stressful stuff I think. Let's talk about happy stuff!

After my last blog post, I got a random Facebook message from Jamie (Frye) Makatche, a friend from high school, expressing condolences for Rosie and "Hey, by the way, I'm in Chicago!". Say whaaat? Anyway, we got brunch one day. It was AWESOME. Between the nutella banana crepe, chai latte, comfy chair, and wonderful conversation- I was a happy kid! Jamie and I weren't every super duper close, but we have a lot in common. We decided to run a 5k together this spring and a 10k at the end of summer! Running accountabilabuddy! So we bonded over that, our love of games, ice cream, lots of stuff. The next day I got to meet her husband John over ice cream at Margie's! (by the way they live like 3 blocks from Hannah!) Such a huge blessing to reconnect with her and I am looking forward to hanging out with her and John more in the months to come!

Our community day a couple weeks ago was planned by Billy- we went ice skating at Millenium Park and ate at Giordanno's. Yum!
Action shot! Billy was the only real confident skater, as if you couldn't tell from Megan and I gripping the rails.

Just call me Michelle Kwan.

Yay!


This weekend, my BFF Chelsea came back from KS so I met her at Union Station and rode up to Evanston with her. We went over to Fernie's and watched the Super Bowl (very disappointing game as you all know) with her seminary friends at it was so fun! Then we went back to her place, watched a movie, and talked until the wee hours. I can't really tell you how nice it was to get out of the house completely for a day (again, the January blues) and hang out with my soul sister.

Monday night I helped with Becoming Women for the first time since early December and it was really great. We had 4 girls and we crocheted! It was so nice and relaxing and not over-stimulating like work can be sometimes. That girl Dominique I wrote about a while ago chatted with me a while and she no longer wants to get pregnant (HUGE YAY!) but her boyfriend is in jail for a year (not yay). But she was talking about going off to college and becoming a nurse and saving money and THEN having kids. YAY! Pretty sure I had nothing/very little to do with this change, but it was a huge answer to prayer.

Now this weekend, the roomies and I are off to Indianapolis (new 2014-2015 YAV Site! Yay!) to meet the new site coordinators and have a vocation-themed retreat. We leave tomorrow (Thursday) night and I'm super excited to get out of town and unplug from it all.

Until next time, thanks for being such great encouragers! May you all be free of the January blues and full of hope (for Spring! and other things).


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Back to Chi-town

So, I finally made it back to Chicago on January 4th after 2 cancelled flights from KCI. I was actually really thankful that I was delayed getting back up there because I got to spend more time with family and it was so wonderful. Uncle Steve (and Corky the dog!) came and rescued me from the airport on Thursday, and went to a dinner theater that night! Friday was relaxing/blogging/shopping and then the Lippe's came over for supper and games. Then on Saturday I left for real. It was so fun to spend a little more time with my extended family, it was good for my soul. And they actually were excited to have me there too! Win win.

Sunday, my pastor from home and his wife (Dick and Evana) were in the area, so they stopped by my place to say hi and chat for a little bit. It was really fun to see them again and introduce them to my roomies.
Dick said "Wow, honey! We might even make 'THE BLOG'!" Congrats, Dick and Evana. You're pretty much famous.
Unfortunately, life back in Chi-town has not been the easiest for me. The first week back wasn't bad. It was wicked cold Monday and Tuesday, so I was able to work from home on Monday for Grace Seeds and had the day off Tuesday since school was cancelled. The rest of the week went pretty well until Friday night. Oh, and I lost my phone on Wednesday of that week. haha. But I got a new one Friday morning.

I had to call my dad from the Verizon store to get verification or whatever, and I could kind of tell he'd been having a rough morning just from the way he sounded when he answered the phone. (turns out the water line froze at home and Rosie was not doing so hot) Anyway, 

he told me to call them later. I did call, but unfortunately not until I was on the train heading downtown with my roomies. That’s when Dad told me that Rosie passed away.
Rosie has been my best pal since April 9, 2002; my 11th birthday. She was the best birthday present ever. I showed her in 4-H, took her hunting, and played with her most every day when I lived at home. She was my best pal. When no one else understood, she did. She was patient and kind and loving even when I was not. I could come home from a stressful semester in college, pet her for five minutes (and maybe cry a little bit) and suddenly life didn’t seem so bad.

First picture taken of me and Rosie, on my 11th birthday.



Last picture taken of me and Rosie. Can you see the love on my face?


So, I was on the train when I got the sad news, and I lost it for a little bit. Maybe I didn’t totally lose it, but I definitely cried. Slightly embarrassing. Anyway, Megan and Billy were very nice about it and let the girl with the puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks tag along anyway. We ate at one of our favorite places and then went to DQ for more comfort food.  :)
 
The next couple weeks were pretty tough for me. Losing Rosie made me reeeeally sad. Yet, I was also dealing with some other sad stuff. I won't get into the details, but it was a hard time for me. I've been reading Isaiah 61 pretty much daily which has been so great. Anybody have a favorite passage of scripture you'd recommend? 

The day after Rosie went up to heaven, Billy and I went to the Josh Abbott Band concert at a local bar. JAB is one of my favorite bands so I was super pumped. We also met some of Chelsea's seminary friends there so it was a pretty good time :)

 
For their encore, they played "She Will Be Free" which I love. It makes me feel....free. Anyway, they played it because January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Whoa. Just when I was feeling so sorry for myself about losing Rosie (which I do think is pretty legitimate sadness) I got a nice wake-up call. My life may not always be perfectly easy and void of pain, but it really is compared to what some people go through. I have no idea what it's like to be sold into slavery and abused on so many levels.Yet I even have no idea what it's like for people right here in this city. People are homeless, addicted, abused, hungry, unemployed, hopeless..... the list goes on.

Some days I feel like the world is so broken it's beyond repair. I'm just one little person wondering what I can possibly do. I feel like I do what I can for the most part, but it will never be enough. Some days it's hard to stay motivated.

I need help. I need prayers. I'm so thankful for your encouragement so far and hope that we can stay in touch better. Send me an email (sentsc@gmail.com) and we can correspond that way or I can send you my mailing address. I would really love to hear from any of you!

*Disclaimer: I am not totally depressed. Things have been getting better! For instance, I have had ice cream twice this week and baked last night :) And yesterday at the school was really good! And I got to see my sissy this weekend! (I'll write more about that later)

Sending warm love from chilly Chicago!




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chris



In my last blog post, you read that I really like New Year’s. It makes me stop and think about what I’ve done in the last year and what I hope to do in the one ahead. I think about who I want to be and what I need to do to become that person.
I’ve been looking forward to New Year’s for a while, mostly because I knew I’d be spending it with my college friends in Manhattan. Chelsea picked me up on Monday and I was so ready to get up to the Little Apple but I knew I couldn’t leave Mac without making one more visit.
Let’s go back a few months so I can preface this a little bit.  In September, my best friend from high school, Shelby, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma. She had several large tumors in her chest and neck, and her condition was pretty serious. So, that kind of rocked my world.
 Fortunately, the chemo has taken care of most if not all of her cancer by this point. She is still undergoing treatments and is weaker than I probably realize, but she’s relatively ok.
A few weeks ago when I was still in Chicago before going home for Christmas, Shelby called and told me that she had just been to visit a classmate of ours named Chris in the hospital. Chris had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophogial cancer and did not have a good prognosis at all. The chemo had stopped working and he was being sent home. (He was going back and forth to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, IL.)
I had no idea that Chris was even sick, and couldn’t believe that there was so little hope for recovery. I wrote his mom, Susan, a message on Facebook just to let her know that I was thinking of them all and that I would make it a point to visit if I weren’t in Chicago.
Then, obviously, I went back to McPherson for Christmas. A couple days after the holiday I wrote Susan again and asked if Chris would be up for a visitor. She said yes, but warned me that he didn’t look very pretty and that he may not recognize me.
Before going into the hospital, I was nervous. I hadn’t talked to Chris in years. We were in the same class in our early elementary years, and chased each other around the playground rather frequently, if I do recall correctly. However, we didn’t really see much of each other after our days at Roosevelt.
Anyway, Chelsea came to McPherson to pick me up to go to Manhattan for New Years but agreed to stop at the hospital so I could see Chris. I made my way up into his room, where his mom and another woman were standing by his bed, weeping. Susan greeted me and told me that Chris was “there”, and listening and that I could hold his hand as I visited.
I sat down next to him, and tried to hold it together. Susan was right, he did not look pretty. The cancer he’d been fighting for a year had clearly taken its toll. The medication made him jerk his body a lot, but I held his hand anyway. It was oddly comforting for me to hold his jerking hand. I suppose because I hoped he felt my tangible presence and knew that I cared. It was good to be a friend to him even after so many years being out of touch.
I talked to him for a little bit, reminisced about our days at Roosevelt, and thanked him for being a good friend. I never, ever saw him do anything remotely unkind to anyone else. He mostly kept to himself, but was a very kind and caring person. He had a good heart.
Then, I prayed with him. I thanked God for the opportunity to know Chris and be friends with him. I thanked God for Chris’ peace with his situation and how admirable that was to me. I said amen, and talked with his mom outside for a few minutes before leaving to head to Manhattan and enjoy being 22.
Seeing Chris made me feel very selfish and sort of immature. While I was worrying about what to wear and where to go on New Year’s Eve, Chris was making his final peace with the world and getting ready to leave it.
Then Chelsea and I stopped by Shelby’s for a little bit so I could say goodbye to her and her family, and then we hit the road. We arrived in Manhattan and hung out with a couple of our friends that were already in town the day before NYE. Then I get a call from Shelby at 11 pm telling me that Chris didn’t make it. He passed only about two or three hours after I had seen him.
That night, I was sort of numb. I tried to be reassuring to Shelby as I knew it was even more personal and terrifying for her.
I called my mama and dad, and told them what happened. Chelsea came in to check on me and I told her. And then I just laid on Rebecca’s bed. He was ready to go, but I was still very sad and in disbelief that this had happened to one of my classmates who was only 22 years old.
I was in a sort of sad funk on New Year’s, but knew that Chris was no longer sad and in pain, and that I should celebrate with him. He went to be with Jesus and was finally able to be totally free in so many ways.
I’m writing this a week after his death, and am still not quite sure how to handle it. I know life’s not fair, but this just seems cruel. Our class has a group on Facebook where we can post stories about Chris. It’s been good to read stories from others about how Chris impacted their lives. (if anyone has access to this, read Ryan Linscheid’s post, it’s so beautiful).
 Pray for me and my classmates, but mostly pray for Chris’s family and thank God for his life and his legacy. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

A link to his obituary