Dear Chris,

We put a bag of baby carrots on the table tonight with our pizza, in your honor. Even Ruthie ate one, saying, “I don’t like baby carrots, but this is for Daddy.”

I got the kids a puppy(!!). Jesse’s been asking, “Do you think Dada would like Tucker?” I say to him, “Well…I think if Daddy were here, he wouldn’t want us to get a puppy yet… He and I talked about it several times… But I wasn’t ready for a puppy either, until everything happened. So it’s different now. I think Daddy would think that it’s great we got a pup, and that he would understand why. And I do think Daddy would like Tucker. He would fall in love with him, just as much as you have.” Jesse said, “Impossible!”

The answers to questions people have like that aren’t simple. I wonder if people want them to be simple, to make it sweet. Or maybe they’re genuinely curious. Many people have said, “Would Chris have loved the colors you picked for the house?” with a smile on their faces, looking up at the warm yellow and blue and green exterior. I try to do you justice. “No,” I say, “he wouldn’t. But I think he would think it looks like a house I would paint, and, since it’s not his house anymore, he’d think that that’s great. He’d be happy for me. And I do think he’d think the light green porch ceiling was a solid choice.”

I got to sing with Preston Lovinggood at Saturn last weekend(!). It really was like a dream come true. I felt alive, meeting new people, being in front of a mic, adding touches of beauty to something bigger and already beautiful. Preston texted before the show: Chris would love that you’re background singing, eh? I had to think about it for a minute and then responded: He’d be happy for me.

It was comforting, after the show, when Charlie said, “I was imagining Chris sitting here watching you…being glad you were getting to do this.” He added, “Nice job, babe,” just as you would say it. I needed to hear those words.

What’s so incredibly painful about all of this is that we’re all just making educated guesses. Putting words in a mouth that no longer speaks.

I so rarely talk to you. I’ve never written you a letter. When I do talk to you–those few times–I can hardly breathe. Mostly I end up shouting, “Where are you?? Why aren’t you here??” You never answer.

But I still have wanted to tell you things. The thing that most stands out is this: It happened just as you said it should, without the life insurance. I know you felt stunned and a measure of guilt when the diagnosis came. But, babe, there is no need unmet. The net is so wide and woven so tightly. The Body is beautiful here on earth. You were right.

I still feel so devastatingly far from you. I still feel like you left me behind, and I sometimes resent you for that. Then I remember how much you didn’t want to die. It’s just hard to reconcile where you are now and where we are–the two places feel so completely unrelated to each other. It doesn’t help that I’m not doing a good job, babe. I’m not. I wanted the experience of walking with you up to the veil to be life-altering for me and our kids. But I feel as bound to this earth as ever. I smoke the cloves from my underwear drawer when I’m stressed with Mary, and I watch Schitt’s Creek on repeat at the end of the day. There’s a shame in feeling like these things would be so undesirable to you now–even more than they were before. And a real shame in feeling like your suffering–and our anguished yet somehow elevated path together those four months–was for naught with me.

I’m actually trusting that Grace is so much more encompassing than all of this–unmanagable, as Gordon said one time. But I hold those feelings of shame, too, within the unmanagable grace. I know they will be swallowed up one day–that they’re swallowed up even now… But I wonder if you can pray for us.

I love you I love you I love you

15 thoughts on “Dear Chris,

  1. Helen

    I read your words. And I can behold you. I weep-pray to the Lord on your behalf. I love you my dear friend. My sister in Christ. We are holding those lanterns high for you, and we are not getting tired. The Lord himself is lifting our arms.

  2. Sara Baugh

    Sarah, thank you for sharing you thoughts so beautifully. I hope to read a book authored by you one day. I continue to pray for you and your family. God bless you! Nehemiah 8:10….”The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

  3. Dorothy

    I agree with everyone else that your writing is so beautiful and your vulnerability is a blessing. I have a feeling that you are writing for yourself… to process. Maybe it doesn’t matter right now that your processing gives hope to the rest of us. I would get that. You are going through the unimaginable. But- you are going through the unimaginable and you are making it through. That, alone, gives me profound hope.

    You may not feel like you are doing a good job, but I know the Lord is pleased with how you show up everyday for your kids. I think that’s probably enough right now.

    I’ve been thinking about you since you told me you were getting a puppy. I’ve been praying that Tucker would be a blessing and a source of comfort for all of you. I will continue to pray for that.

  4. Courtney

    Oh friend, wow. I echo with the others how much you have a gift. And it’s so generous of you to let us who love you into your head, heart, and space. Your reflections are so poignant and speak to the finality of death and the way it’s really hard to conceive of it. You are an amazing, strong woman and He is holding you. I wish I could hug you and tell you to enjoy your show, which might feel frivolous, and to let your frustrations out when the days are so long. You are human, so beautifully human, and your feelings of inadequacy highlight how fragile and indeed precious our lives really are. God is faithful, kind, and good and I know He is with you. And I love you!

  5. Kelley Alford

    Your openness and heartfelt honesty speaks volumes to more people than you could possibly know. Thank you for opening your heart to us.

  6. Betsy Kopecky

    Dear, Dear Sarah,
    How do you write so beautifully, poignantly, and piercingly (if that’s a word)? It’s as if the Lord, who knew your ‘story’ from the very beginning, placed inside of you a gift…a gift that would be a part of the healing and ‘balm of Giliad’ for your soul. Keep writing, my friend……it’s a holy gift from the Father to his child Sarah 💙

  7. Phil Johnson

    Your writing is such a gift to us. Thank you for your honesty and for letting us in. Praying for you and the kids.

  8. Bonnie Bastian

    Thank you for being real, Sarah. That is a ministry and example and lesson to us all through your words. Yes, Chris would be proud of you, I’m sure. Weakness is our human lot…but can produce growth and strength in other lives and in yours when shared…because then prayer can become more focused and the body of Christ can better do its work in shoring up and loving.
    I’m so glad for your singing opportunity and that you’re stepping back into life!
    Holding you all up in prayer and love🙏❣

  9. Jenn Shuffle

    He is praying for you. More faithfully now than he’s ever been able to do. I also know that he sees his own weaknesses more fully now than he was able to in life, and is more understanding of yours now too. He has been healed of all shame and he’s in the presence of the light of the universe. I’ve said this to you before and I’ll say it again here: Chris was the one chosen to suffer and to die an untimely death. God trusted him with that. And you were chosen for this. To bear witness to it, to interpret your impressions to the world, and to bear the consequences on earth. God trusted you with that, and He knew about the cigarettes and the Netflix already. I, for one, couldn’t think of a better person to entrust with this suffering, as much as I didn’t want it for you. You are simply amazing.

    And Peter is right. We are for you. We see you. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and all the heavenly host. We are all pulling for you – even the Lord Himself.

    I have to imagine some chagrin on Chris’s part now, if he’s able to know how you’re doing and what you’re thinking now that he’s gone. About how his own foibles live on in the hearts and imaginations of his family, inextricably mixed in with the good, the true and the beautiful that he strove to embody. It will only be righted at the end of time, or when you see him again. But it will be righted so deeply that nothing we face will be worthy to be compared to what we will have then. Righted so that even the discovery of each misunderstanding and how it was put right is joy upon joy upon joy.

  10. Melissa

    I’ve been wanting to send this scripture to you for weeks, but I keep putting it off. I think this is the appropriate time. I have thought it when I met Tuck-Tuck, when I watched you sing, every time I have seen you smile. And I have prayed for you in those moments. I love you, Sarah. Thank you for sharing this letter to Chris with us.

    “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” Proverbs 14:13

  11. Duski

    I see Jesus every time you share. I see him holding you, carrying you, comforting you, giving you space and courage to honestly and authentically exist in grief, and causing you to bloom. If you writing encourages and enlarges your heart even a fraction of the way it does mine when I read your words, please keep writing. I love you and have you and yours in my heart! ❤️

    1. Peter Thompson

      I don’t often comment because I’m not sure what to say, or I’m afraid of saying something cheap. But I just want you to know I see you, we see you. We love you all so much and we are holding you in our thoughts and prayers.


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