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 Fall: I 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, morningsongbooks.com.
Forgiveness sparks the soul—
when, in surrender,
I find strength to freely give
the love that God has given.
Love is for giving,
unencumbered by condition—
rendering blessed peace,
relief from stirring hunger.
May we truly spend this life,
with time still left to wonder
how forgiveness, humbly—
inspires the soul from slumber.
Turning from Presence, the path fades away—
until remembering, I follow,
intuiting how and where to step.
The wellspring rings eternal, finding entrance
as I peer through the entanglement—
to the radiance of fertile ground.
Presence lights the Way for eyes just awakened—
through the rowdy playing field,
up the still silence of Heaven.
Today is Chris’s birthday. He would have been 38. Our love remains, a golden thread spanning the ages.
Chris journeys through the sheer glow of Heaven. A rock climber in life, he now climbs unbound.
Happy birthday, dear son. I feel your humble spirit and the holy heights that beckon. May you drink from streams of milk and honey and be garlanded with stardust. You have my heart, today and always.
Living from the wellspring of the soul requires standing still—to know the truth of its resonance and wisdom.
The soul is a wayfarer, bearing witness to experience, gently whispering: Give life passage, living the freedom of love, holding the crossings of paths in light.
In stillness, the soul lifts into awakening. Through life’s fleeting nature, we traverse as one, standing our ground in God.
Eleven years ago, my son, Chris, died on a mountainside, pursuing his passion. On this anniversary day, I reflect on the blessing of his presence—God’s precious miracle.
God may take a life but never the love, which is the gist of relationship. What brings joy in another is invisible, eternal.
The light of Chris has known my grief and helped me heal. To become whole again avows our bond, while granting God’s calling.
Chris encourages me to live in essence, staying true to my vision. His voice has the tenor of life; he is a child of my heart.
I feel Chris close on his day of rebirth—in an aura of sacredness, in a spirit of celebration.
On May 31, 2003, my son died in a rock climbing accident in Yosemite National Park. He was twenty-five.
After Chris died, I created a manuscript about his life, which included many poems. Later, the manuscript was culled into a book without poems. In remembrance, for the 11th anniversary of Chris’s fall, I am sharing a few of the poems.
Love’s Angel expresses the sense of Chris’s freedom following death. Growing Up and Reverie cast light on his character and love of life. The final unnamed poem reflects on my experience of loss as a whole.
Chris is Love’s angel,
such wealth untold;
I feel his sparkling Presence—
stardust turned to gold.
Love is not earth’s servant—
rather rapture on the wing.
Love flames mortal hearts,
then soars to hear seraphs sing.
Angels flit among us
like shining shafts of light—
Some linger but a moment,
then spiral into flight.
to Love’s sweet home.
I’ll know you by the ash
you hail from heaven’s dome.
Chris grew up and up,
an unwieldy clatter of bones
ahead of himself.
He was the tallest kid in class.
While playmates tilted
to tease or taunt,
he tied knots in their shoes,
and learned to laugh at himself.
At six foot five the kid settled in—
a slick, swift, lanky
gem of a guy,
though they say he couldn’t dance!
When others cracked up,
he’d jazz it up,
bobbing above the crowd.
Goofy or graceful, it was all the same.
Chris rolled with the rhythm of life.
Chris danced the elfin jig
under a crescent moon.
He leaped to touch the arc
of a rainbowed afternoon.
Live your life, forget the strife,
Whirl and twirl; be free!
The wind is heckling clouds,
and the sun glitters glee.
Chris juggled feathers
strewn by wayward flocks.
He gazed on nature’s splendor,
whistling on the rocks.
Laugh and play your nimble days,
tread lightly on the earth.
Rain is clapping; trees are sapping—
My love is full of mirth.
Loss is loss of pleasure—
the pleasure of a tantalizing smile.
But what is loss compared to love,
when love is all the good worthwhile?
Through faith, miracles work
to rouse the tender twinge to wing.
Through loss I probe that deeper well
to tap the silent mystic spring.
When Chris was 14, he discovered rock climbing. His brave journey as a rock climber and my climb from despair after he died come to life in the book Freedom to Fall. To order a copy, click on the appropriate link above.
This is a rewrite of an earlier piece, more as a poem:
Moving with momentum through the still frames of circumstance, life acquires grace. Through time’s orchestration of ever-changing tones, I step to the threshold in a spirit of participation.
With God as Witness, I ask how best to serve: performing, listening, accepting, traversing, or simply giving love?
Life is magical when lived in stride—to feel God’s guidance, to live to see the light.
With time as teacher, I learn patience and surrender. Through time’s ever-presence, movement becomes seamless.
To move with time is to honor God’s gift. When circumstance prevails, there is a sense of something forgotten—until I remember: Keep the momentum. Go forward with grace.
Upon picking up my pen in the New Year, the words that came were: first thoughts are best thoughts.
On the first day of the year, I recall the verse from John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
These words are with me in the realization of what life really is. In beginning a New Year, there are resolutions and consideration for what I envision in a personal sense. But more importantly, I choose to follow a path of light. The true life is one in which God’s word shines through us—whatever the task, wherever we are.
The path of light is one of daily communion, an innermost place of giving and receiving. It is one of staying true to oneself, regardless of what goes on. It means “being in this world but not of this world.” It means time alone with God, though people and situations enrich us.
When we stand in light, following the way, we are guided each and every moment. Momentary existence may be for better or for worse, but there is a constancy that cannot be denied. When we find that inner vibrancy, there is joy.
The New Year means to me:
1. That I embrace the child within with love and devotion.
2. That I turn my life over to be used as only God can.
3. That life is not about searching but about following.
4. That the wish for myself extend to others: Goodwill and Peace, no matter the trials and tribulations.
The New Year brings hope and renewal. May a beacon of light guide your way.
I’ve expressed in a variety of posts how love allowed me to recover from the loss of my son. Here is perhaps one last post on this theme, which remains dear to my heart. These stories stand as one person’s testimony to the miracle of love, as it transcends from one realm to another.
Loss as a Journey in Faith
After my son died, I was sometimes told, “You never get over it.” But I had faith in a journey that could allow me to recover, believing that only good can come from love.
The difference between these two approaches may be illustrated by a story. My brother Bill, who is a psychologist, was working with a patient who had lost his daughter. Bill mentioned that he had a sister who lost her son and who thought of her loss as a journey. Some time elapsed, and one day the patient remarked, “Your sister saved my life. I had only thought that there was life before my daughter died and then there was life after she died. After she died was like arriving at a dead-end. There was nowhere to go from there. My life was over. It didn’t occur to me that my loss could be a journey. So thank your sister for saving my life.”
I felt humbled by my brother’s story because it had never occurred to me that I could possibly not be on a journey, and so had missed what is most important. That it is possible to step onto a path in loss and go places we have never been before, perhaps awakening onto a new dream.
We create our own realities by the beliefs and attitudes that we hold. In truth, life after profound loss is never the same. It is an experience that encompasses your entire being—mind, body, and spirit—and from that comes growth. It teaches you to appreciate the small gifts of life. It can change aspects of your character and personality. I became more authentic, less prone to want to prove myself. I simplified my life. Most especially, I learned what can’t be taken away. And therein lies the saving grace in loss.
When someone we love dies, we lose their physical presence, but the essence of that person lives on. The radiance of Chris’s smile is with me always, as a feature of his soul. And the love between us lives on, soul to soul—pure energy, a beam of light. It exists wholly, with holiness, in the moment unfolding. By letting go of what once existed but is forever gone, we can find the eternal bond. It takes a journey, one founded in faith, to arrive at this discovery.
Little by little, the light of love fills the void that loss leaves. You can become whole again. And you can know joy, in ways perhaps you haven’t known before.
For the past month I’ve been writing and preparing for a live on-line Hay House seminar. It was supposed to air June 11 but was postponed until Wednesday, July 10, 10:30 PDT. This is a free event, and I will be sending out a link later for registering. You will be able to call in with questions and comments, and I certainly encourage you to do so. This event is important to me, as it is my response to what I was given after losing my son 10 years ago. Following is the course description:
Freedom to Fall: A Spiritual Approach to Loss
This course is about loss and the redemptive power of love. It is designed to help people navigate through the loss of a loved one in the best way possible, whether the loss occurred years ago or recently. This live online event will help you come to terms with a loved one’s death, finding the courage to let go while holding onto what is truly important. By making daily shifts away from the past and into the present moment, magic can happen that engenders healing.
My book, Freedom to Fall, is the story about the death of my son in a rock climbing accident and how I was able to keep our love alive, allowing me to redeem my life. This is not a love that clings but a freeing love that is joyful.
We will explore ways of cultivating a sense of a loved one’s presence after they have died as well as ways of letting go. The two go hand in hand! In those two practices you will be promoting a deep spiritual truth: Love is eternal. You never really lose who you love. Once you develop that awareness, it is yours forever—for the giving and receiving every day.
You can begin benefiting from this dynamic approach to loss today. By learning to keep alive the bond with a loved one, you begin a process of recovery. There may always be an element of sadness for losing someone you love. After all, loss is real. But a more profound reality can emerge through practice and faith—a beam of light shining through the loss, awakening invaluable gain.