This blog is about the spiritual journey

Remembering Chris

Today marks the 13th anniversary of my son’s passing.  He died while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park when he was twenty-five.

I remember the year leading up to Chris’s death. Beneath all consciousness, the mystery appeared to prevail. He had visited relatives across the country and had collected his belongings from others. The weekend before leaving for Yosemite, he visited with old friends at the martial arts school that had helped him grow up. Those who saw Chris that year recall his joy, peace, and love.

Looking back, it’s as though, even as Chris lived with all his heart, the Earth couldn’t hold him.  He was two when, on the eve of the birth of my daughter, he discovered stars. It seemed in that moment that a light went on inside him, which throughout life grew ever brighter.  As I wrote in the book Freedom To FallI thought that Chris, if given the chance, would not go back and do anything differently. From the earliest age, he was always breaking out into new territory, new heights, new vistas—new realms of freedom.  You could cherish Chris, but you couldn’t contain him….  

I take comfort in knowing that Chris is where he is supposed to be.  I know not what he is up to, how he serves God.  Only that the love we had is the love we have and the love we will always have. The saving grace in loss is the soul’s endurance.

Chris was a shining example to many whose paths he crossed.  May this day be a reminder that he is with us still, even as his journey (and ours) continue on.


Communicate with Carol or order a book via her website,

14 responses

  1. I can’t imagine that kind of loss. Through reading your book, I felt Chris’ spirit. I will read it again soon.

    June 1, 2016 at 3:32 am

    • Thanks for your words, Janet. I’m glad Chris’s spirit has stayed with you! The way you relate to Yosemite is kindred to the way Chris did. It was his favorite place on earth.

      June 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm

  2. Marie O'Shea

    Hi Carol, Gordon and I are thinking what a wonderful friend you are and send you lot’s of love today on this very special day.

    Love you


    June 1, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    • Wonderful to hear from you Marie! Thanks for your thoughts! Love, Carol

      June 1, 2016 at 6:58 pm

  3. diana richards

    Thank you, Carol. It is good to be reminded that he is with us still.

    July 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    • Thanks Diane. I hope you can feel that too.

      July 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      • diana richards

        Carol, Jambo and I were walking in the woods. I stopped to examine a new native plant in bloom. As I looked closely at the flower I was amazed to see its intricate beauty and a wave of sadness passed through me as Chris appeared in my mind. The date? June 1. The meaning? maybe missing the close up intricate beauty of Chris on Earth.

        July 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  4. diana richards

    i would add “sensing” to the last line–maybe sensing & missing…

    July 20, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    • Diane, what a beautiful sensing of Chris! It’s as though his spirit merged with the spirit of the flower. Surely, he was right there with you on the walk.

      July 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      • diana richards


        July 20, 2016 at 9:00 pm

  5. Haley McMackin

    Chris and I met through a mutual friend in Boulder. He and I quickly formed a close friendship and for a while he took me out several mornings a week, humoring me while climbing well below his skill level. He said he didn’t care, was just happy to be outside with a friend. I remember leaving messages on his answering machine and quite often, rather than call me back, he’d just show up at my doorstep. Chris was connected to life more than most people I know. He enjoyed it and let it forge a natural curve. I was sad when he told me he was leaving for Yosemite but he promised me he’d be back the following year. We never did re-connect as I moved away from Boulder and digital connections just weren’t the same back then, but I thought of him often. I was saddened to hear of his passing several months after his memorial. I would have been there in a heartbeat had I known. 2 climbers fell in Yosemite yesterday and my memory of Chris stirred once again. I just ordered your book and will look forward to reading it. Please know that there are fond memories of Chris in places across this globe. Peace to your family, Carol.

    June 3, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    • Oh my goodness! Your message comes as such a heart-felt surprise. It’s been a long time since anyone has reached out to me from Chris’s world. Thank you so much for sharing.

      I’ve learned so much about how rock climbing helped shaped the person Chris became. It was inspiring to see how far life took him and how complete he became as a person.. And though his death is sad, I honestly think Chris wasn’t concerned with how long he lived, It was how he lived that mattered, to him. At the same time, after I investigated the accident, I was sure that it was a freak accident. And I learned that while Chris often pushed his limit, he never climbed foolishly. He seemed to intuit where that invisible line was and respected it. I was able to make my peace with his death. God bless and thanks for writing. Carol

      PS If you are interested, I can send you some of the stories I collected about Chris by email. My address is

      June 3, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      • Diane Richards

        Carol, I have been thinking of you this past week, and of Chris. I cannot believe it has been 15 years. I have deep love in my heart for you both, and sadness once again at this anniversary of his passing. Be well, Diane

        June 4, 2018 at 2:00 am

      • Wow, Diane, your message is touching! Thanks so much for your heart-felt thoughts. They are a blessing. Yes, it’s hard to believe that 15 years have gone by. Carol

        June 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm

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