Thursday, February 26, 2009


I've mentioned my daughter, Jessica, on this blog. I used to have a son named Christopher, too. Christopher was born prematurely. His first few weeks of life were fraught with problems. He couldn't breath on his own. He was weak. There was internal bleeding in his brain, which caused excess pressure inside of his skull. A shunt had to be surgically installed to drain the fluid from his brain and ease the pressure. All this would be traumatic for a fully-grown adult, to say nothing of a new-born baby.

Christopher proved strong enough to survive these ailments, but they did leave their scars. He was severely afflicted with cerebral palsy for his entire life. He passed away, four years ago today, because of complications from his condition, at the tender age of fifteen.

We all know the story of the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. The Grinch hated Christmas, and he wanted everyone else to hate it too – and he decided that he could make that happen by taking away from the Who’s all the seemingly good things about Christmas; all those things that would seem to make Christmas worthwhile. The gifts, the toys, the Christmas trees and decorations – even all of the food.

Having taken away all of these things, the Grinch waited in anticipation as the sun rose on Christmas Day, expecting to hear the Who’s wailing and lamenting. But then, something unexpected and wonderful happened. Instead of crying, the Grinch heard the Who’s singing.

Christopher was deprived from birth of many of the things that would seem essential to a happy, meaningful existence. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t even sit up unsupported. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t feed himself or play with most toys. He couldn’t change channels on TV and was at the mercy of whatever his sister decided to watch most of the time.

It would have been perfectly understandable if Christopher had been a sullen, unhappy, withdrawn little boy. He could have cried and complained most of the time, and who could have blamed him? One might almost expect it.

And yet, he didn’t. In fact, he had a smile that could light up a room. He found pleasure in the smallest, simplest of things. A nice, warm bath. A cuddle in an easy chair with mom or dad. Even the simple jostling of his wheelchair when it rolled over rough or uneven ground elicited giggles and laughs.

And just like the Who’s taught the Grinch that there was more to Christmas than gifts and decorations and food, Christopher taught everyone whose life that he touched that living is good and worthwhile, even when most of what’s taken for granted by everyone else is missing. Christopher knew a secret that few people know. And though he couldn’t talk, he tried to tell it to us anyway.

One of Christopher's most striking features was his large, expressive blue eyes. Thinking about those eyes inspired me to make a photo slideshow in his memory about a month after he passed away. On this, the anniversary of his passing, I've decided to share it with others by posting it on YouTube and here on my blog. I think that it expresses more poignantly than any words can what he meant to me and to the rest of his family and how much we all miss him. Here it is.


Tubes said...

Very nice Andy.

Martin said...

Very touching. Thanks for the rekindling some old memories.