Last night, I attended the Memorial Service for Christopher Ya’ir Lane, one of probably a couple hundred people who attended.
The service began around five and didn’t end until after 8. There were so many souls, who were given a voice by Christopher, or reminded to use their voice in his care, and so they did use their voices last night in his honor.
I could almost feel Christopher standing over each one as they spoke, validating their voices, as he always did, pulling up a chair in the audience to give a resounding applause at their efforts, great or small, nodding at the MC, “Just one more…” after the twentieth, or thirtieth person spoke. He would’ve wanted every one of them to speak, to give gifts of words that birthed in their hearts and burned in the flames of grief and remembrance.
A strange sense of peace filled the air of Oak Creek Canyon, under the sycamores, as the candlelight bloomed glowing branches of remembrance to light our words at the mic. I didn’t expect peace, in a space filled with hearts ajar and open, salt still mincing into fresh wounds.
This loss was so sudden and tragic, so immense and far-reaching – as one woman said, “A man stopped me today and said, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.”
She replied, perplexed, “Who, me?!’”
The man continued, “Yes, you’re an artist in Sedona, right? Then you knew Christopher Lane? I’m from Albuquerque and we all knew Christopher Lane there.’”
The night began with songs and friendship, and then Christopher’s beautiful wife, Akasha, took the mic. We all held our breath a little, waiting to exhale at the sight of her – what would she say, how could she speak? Here, the counterpart of a conspicuous, vociferous beauty – just as breath-taking in her shyness, and the quivering pauses between her phrases. She struggled to find any words fitting of a man who spit them with fire and eloquence, power and purpose, but her words were perfect.
She began by sharing a drawing and letter Christopher’s 8-year-old son wrote for him…Daddy, I miss you, what was wrong with you, I wish I could just give you a hug, I wish you could still read me stories before bed.
That letter was the hardest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
As she read, I glanced at my husband, who knew Christopher much more as an acquaintance then a friend, and saw his eyes overflowing with tears. I thought of our two beautiful children, and the one blooming in my belly.
Then Akasha began to speak about her husband. Her words came in waves, and after each sentence, she inhaled and exhaled long deep, shivering breaths…
“This doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream, or a movie.”
“I can just hear Christopher now, ‘So I had to die for you to finally get on a mic?!’” We all laughed.
Then, she continued, “God, I was so lucky to be married to him. I knew him 10 years and nine months, and I was a princess for every one of those moments.”
She spoke of what a doting father he was, and really, he was. There are few men in the world like him, that open up the Pandora’s Box of the world for their children daily, conveying magic and mystery in the mundane, parenting through powerful grace, gentle devotion, and quiet strength.
Every word she spoke made me think of my own husband, because every word she spoke could also be true of him. He lives his life for the kids and I. He adores our children, and would hurdle planets and platoons to bring back any small piece of Heaven on Earth for us. He’s a Christopher sort of Daddy in his own way, and I have always been thankful for this, growing up with a Dad who provided more financial strength, then emotional.
Every one of Akasha’s words will stay lit like a flame in the window of my soul. But, this sentence stayed with me the most.
“I loved you so much, Christopher,” she said. “And if I could go back, I would’ve loved you even more.”
And if I could go back, I would’ve loved you even more.
For Kory & I, 15 deaths in 3 years has certainly been enough to make us cling to each other like jellyfish on a surfer’s leg. It’s certainly been enough to singe indelible impressions on our hearts, marking the fragility of life. We’ve attended Memorials for children, friends, grandparents, aunts, second Mothers, second Fathers – and with every one, we’ve been painfully reminded, in fact, drenched in an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for what we have. We know better than most, how quickly things can change. I know regret in so many ways, I’m like a diamond expert explaining the 4 C’s – cut, clarity, carat and colors – of regret.
Akasha’s words made me grip my husbands fingers in mine tighter still though, and vow to myself – in memory of Christopher, in honor of a love that gave her power to stand at that microphone he had owned with such exuberance, after losing the love of her life – to love my husband, my children, my anyone…more.
I’ve made an invisible list in my mind of how many different ways I want to live my life as a small tribute to him. I figure, if I could be half the human being he was in my lifetime, I’d be doing ok.
The words from one of his poems, which they shared a recording of last night, hit me, “No longer should we be allowed to speak to another poet unless we have answered the question, ‘What, where, who have you helped today?’”
That’s the basis of my new commitment to life. What, where, who have you helped today?
Christopher helped someone every day.
I help my kids every day, and my husband, and that’s a lot, but like Akasha, I look back and think, could I have done even more? I don’t know, but, I’m going to try.
When I got home late last night, I was reminded, even in all my immense self-doubt of late, that being a full-time Mom is a pretty amazing thing, too. I returned home to find my own little letter awaiting. My five-year-old daughter had written it while I was at the service.
I guess the real message is…do as much as you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are. 🙂
If you do nothing else with your day (besides reading this post, thank you!) PLEASE watch this video – you WILL be inspired to live and love more.
Christopher Ya’ir Lane’s Most Powerful Prose