I wrote a thing today, a tribute about my little brother. I had coffee with a friend and we talked about death, perspective, and life. My mind may be consumed with a thousand things, but God knows how to restore my soul.
I have a handprint that hangs on my bedroom wall that simultaneously reminds me of how stupid I thought it was that we were making handprints and how grateful I am now that I have that handprint. It’s on a rectangular piece of canvas. I made my handprint first, in blue (my favorite color), and then, directly on top, I carefully pressed my little brother’s yellow handprint (his favorite color). It’s a temporary, artistically preserved high-five. Granted, Christopher preferred to withdraw his hand and yell, “TOO SLOW!” or simply refused to high-five altogether, but I figured that this time, he could actually follow through. He also didn’t have much choice in the matter.
It’s a strange feeling, holding your little brother’s (lifeless?) hand and talking to him, kind of hoping he’s listening and kind of hoping he’s not (because he’d probably agree with you, this whole handprint activity is a little bit lame). But minutes later, when your family is singing around his bed, whispering last goodbyes, and squeezing his small (paint-splattered) hand one last time, you’re desperately praying that he is listening. Or maybe that God is giving him a play-by-play in heaven. Then you drive home from the hospital, changed forever, with a rectangular piece of canvas displaying a yellow handprint in the middle of a blue one.
I’m coming dangerously close to using the trite phrase “handprint on my heart”. Fortunately, in Christopher’s case, I don’t think that phrase adequately conveys the mark Christopher left on all of us. This boy packed so much life into thirteen years, that there was no way he left a gentle handprint on our hearts. Christopher lived in such a way that his joy was infectious, his frustration aggravating, his imagination unrestrained, his anxiety overwhelming, his courage unparalleled, his anger dark, and his spirit unquenched. He experienced life to its fullest and he brought everyone with him along for the ride. That isn’t something light and gentle like a cutesy handprint on our hearts. That’s the best high-five we’ve ever received.
Some people have a word that defines who they want to be. Christopher gave me mine. Impact. That satisfying smack when two hands collide just right. When you walk away saying, “Man, that was good!” I want my life to have that impact. That high-five mentality. Christopher made an impact in our family, community, and beyond in a short thirteen years. What kind of impact can I have with the rest of mine? Who can I high-five?
One thing is certain: when my time comes, and that long-awaited reunion is celebrated at heaven’s gates, there will one dang satisfying high-five.
Chad, I’m deeply impressed by this–both the profound message and the rich maturity of your writing. Thank you.
That was a beautifully written post, Chad. Thank you for sharing such a sweet and painful memory.
Chad, as I read this post I could tell that you wrote this completely from your heart. I can not imagine what you were going through while you wrote this. My wish is for anyone who reads this blog is encouraged as well as empowered by your blogs. Please continue to write like this more often.