It just seems fitting to start the section about being widowed by sharing words that I wrote for the funeral service bulletin that accompanied my husband’s funeral mass. This was written at about 3 am on March 2nd, 2013, about 74 hours after Chris was killed. I think it offers a quick summary of the 29 years that had gone before.
My husband said that I was a good writer. Yet I am at a loss for words. I want to share with you how wonderful and unique a person Chris was, and I do not know where to begin. So perhaps I should begin at the beginning.
Chris and I met at a party on February 11, 1984. He attended St. Mary’s Boys’ High School, played piano, was cute, made me laugh, and drove me home in his car … a very cool night for a 16 year old girl and 17 year old guy. We spoke on the phone the next day, and on Valentine’s Day he showed up at my high school (Valley Stream Central) with four roses, one for each day we had known one another. That turned out to be characteristic of my first and only love. He was sweet and caring, and prone to do the unexpected.
He graduated NYU School of Business. I went to Hofstra, and we remained a couple. We learned together, laughed together, and shared our plans and our dreams for the future, like young couples in love do. He threw me a lot of surprise parties, gave me silly cards and took me to fun places. Chris worked as a teller at Seaman’s bank, so that he could “afford to have a girlfriend.” He had a passion for hard work and for always doing the best he could possibly do.
In college, he started a business painting and cleaning medical offices. He built it into a small business with a few employees. We cleaned together in the evenings three days a week; the work was just more time spent together. Even after he started his first job out of college, as a “runner” at the he New York Stock Exchange, Chris kept the business going. In December 1994 he proposed to me, proffering a beautiful ring he had designed himself, and revealing red roses, Dom Perignon and bridal magazines hidden in the trunk of his car. Chris brought me to his parents’ home to share the news, and a stretch limo met us to take us into NYC for dinner at Tavern on the Green. That was the way Chris was – thoughtful, loving, generous, with great attention to every detail.
We married at Holy Name of Mary in Valley Stream, on February 17, 1996. We honeymooned in Italy, and then he surprised me with an extra week at Disney. Chris and I settled into a good life.
It was in 1999 that we learned I had multiple sclerosis, and the two month hospital and rehab stay was scary. Chris assured me all would be ok. I recovered and it was fine. In 2000 Chris cried as he held our first child, Amanda. Chris moved on to work at Morgan Stanley where he would continue his successful career. Amanda was followed in 2003 by the birth of Sabrina, and in 2005 by the arrival of Nicholas. Chris shed tears for the arrival of each child, vowing to be the best Dad ever. And he was.
Chris changed countless diapers, made bottles, cleaned throw up and other messy delights that accompany children. There were fun birthday parties, joyous holidays, and countless ordinary days made extraordinary by his love for his kids. He was rock steady, and resolute in his determination to give his family a wonderful life. He signed cards to me “All my love, always and forever”, and he meant it.
In 2007 my multiple sclerosis rocked our world. I spent more than a year in hospitals and rehab centers. Faced with circumstances that prompt many spouses to run away, Chris simply changed our world as best he could to accommodate the new reality we faced. He continued to work full time, raise our kids, take them to Mass each week, and support me and our sacramental commitment to one another. These past few years have seen us continue to enjoy our amazing children and one another. Chris brought us a dog, pet chickens we hatched from eggs, a teacup pig, a guinea pig he magically made appear in the St. Anne’s parking lot, and just last month, a rabbit. Why? Because each represented new experiences and learning, and laughter.
In 2011 Chris accepted a position at UBS in NJ, taking on a 90-minute commute each way because he saw the opportunity as a way to continue his career and further his ability to provide safety and security for our family “team”. Again, he was excelling because of his passion to “do the right thing”.
Chris helped so many people who never knew him. He was a “cookie mom” for Girl Scouts, swung a hammer for Habitat for Humanity, helped with food drives and coat drives, fulfilled Christmas wishes for kids, provided Thanksgiving dinners for families and on and on. He joined the Knights of Columbus in hopes of expanding his opportunities to help people. For 29 years we spoke so many times each day because there was much to share.
My husband was an amazing guy … he never liked being referred to as a man, he was a “guy”. He was kind, unpretentious, smart, devout, and handsome and had a great sense of humor. He also had warm, safe hands that could hold a pen to do complex calculations at the office, or hang sheetrock perfectly, or dry a child’s tears, or hold my hands and make me feel that all was right with the world. I will remember that feeling forever, though it is now lost to me forever. Chris was the best person I have ever known, and I am so grateful that I had told him that many times.
Please do something kind or fun for someone, in memory of Chris. I know that he would really like to be remembered in that way.