We celebrated my grandson’s 25th birthday last month. He brought his 2-year-old son down from Minnesota, and we met at my daughter’s home in Missouri.
There was the usual ice cream and cake, of course, and later he connected with some of his buddies from the local fire department. Chris wasn’t a fireman, but he greatly admired the men and women who daily put themselves on the line to save lives and property. He got to know some of them as an auxiliary volunteer when he was in high school.
Chris overcame a bunch of obstacles growing up. His father died of a drug overdose when he was still in grade school, and when his mother found it difficult to care for him, he and his two sisters moved in with their aunt, my elder daughter. School wasn’t easy for him, but he labored through it.
After he graduated high school, Chris surprised everyone by applying for and being accepted into the National Guard. He sailed through basic and secondary training and took obvious pride in being ready to defend his country. I attended his graduation ceremonies at Fort Leonard Wood, and I have never been prouder.
Chris married his high school sweetheart, and they moved to Minnesota. She went to work as a physical therapist and Chris signed on as a route driver for the area Coca Cola distributor. Young Carter was born two years ago July and Chris added “father” to his resume.
It’s impossible to know for sure what caused the trouble in their marriage, and it really doesn’t matter. It ended in divorce court, and Chris moved out.
The loss was hard, and the ensuing isolation must have been overwhelming. He kept hoping for reconciliation with his wife, but the damage was apparently irreparable.
Chris lived alone and looked for answers. When none were forthcoming, he sent a one-line text to my daughter saying he couldn’t live like that anymore. Then he took his own life.
I’m sure it is true that Chris felt his burdens had become too heavy to bear. And now, so are mine.