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My youngest brother, Chris, was murdered on Jan 4, 1981. He was 28 years old, the youngest of 5 children. As a family we were devastated! A few months ago, I was sorting through a box of old photos. I came across one of Chris when he was about 2 years old that caught me by surprise and immersed me in a flood of memories. I was 10 when Chris was born. We were both born on the 23rd; I in June, he in December.
He was my live doll. I remember helping my mom dress him on the day of that photo. It was a formal sitting with a professional photographer. He was dressed in a navy jumper (a type of dress overalls), wearing a navy striped shirt. He had a buzz cut and stood like a little man, with a mischievous, cherubic grin on his face.
First, I took that photo to a local photo shop and had it enlarged. Then I took it to a framing shop and asked if they could help me frame it. I thought I wanted it in a gold frame with a blue mat, but the gal at Michael's helped me see how a carved oak frame was a better choice. I burst into tears when I first saw it in the frame. It looked beautiful as an 11x14 in the same kind of frame without a mat.
I have a family gallery of photos on a wall going upstairs to the bedrooms, but decided Chris's "new" photo needed a special place. I put it up as the main piece of wall art in the downstairs recreation room. It looks perfect hanging just above the gas fireplace. Chris looks as if he is delighted to be there and I find that looking at his photo gives me a sense of bittersweet joy, but comfort too, as I remember so many wonderful times growing up with him and my other brothers and sister.
I have recalled several childhood events that I haven't thought about in years, like the Easter Sunday my parents got our sitter to come stay with Chris while we went to church. My mother was a soloist and it was a big day for her. She didn't want to be distracted by having an active toddler with her. Back then, our church didn't have a nursery. If a child got fussy, the mother took it out into the vestibule and watched the Mass from afar.
Anyway, Chris could see us getting dressed in our Easter finery and knew he wasn't going. When it came time for our shoes, none of the four of us older children could find them. We looked high and low while my mother worried about being late for church on such an important day. My dad, ever the analyst, noticed an open window in the bedroom I shared with my sister. He went outside and returned with an armful of shoes. Chris had thrown them all out the window, through a hole he had somehow made in the screen. He tried his best to keep us home.
While my mother was singing, Dad had a time keeping us from giggling every time we children looked at each other. I find great comfort in that memory. Thanks for the picture, Chris. I love you.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
This is a beautiful and touching story, Cate. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart about Chris. I hope the picture I chose is okay--let me know if you'd like it changed. You are honoring the memory of your brother in a very meaningful and loving way. This is a very good way to facilitate the grieving process. Many people will benefit from your generous sharing.
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