My brother Brian was 23 and Amy was 19 when they had Christopher. I remember when Brian called to tell me I was an aunt! What a surprise it was and I was thrilled. Christopher was born December 1, 1986 in Buffalo, NY. He captured my heart as soon as I layed eyes on him. He had his mom's beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair and Brian's cute little nose and beautiful smile.
Brian and Amy split when Chris was about 6, but they made it a point to keep him the center of all things. Chris grew into a great kid. He was very outgoing and generous of spirit like his mom and had his dad's love of sports, his silly giggle and corny humor. Amy remarried and Chris gained a step dad and brother and sister who loved him. Brian eventually remarried as well and Chris had a step mom who loved him too, and extended family on both sides...he was loved by so many people. He longed for a cousin and would ask me every now and then when he might expect one. I tried for years to have children of my own, but it was not to be. I grieved for the child I would never have, but decided I could be happy loving my nieces and nephews and friends kids.
Chris grew into his teenage years. He started playing volleyball and ran track in high school. He was doing well in school and earned the respect of his volleyball teammates when he was given the Mr. Hustle award. He had his first serious girlfriend, Katie. He was learning to drive, perparing for his license and spring so he could take Katie to the junior prom. He was growing up so fast!
He started growing taller all of a sudden. He had always been small. Pretty soon he was measuring himself against me, which seems to have become a right of passage in our family. I am only 5' 2" so it doesn't take them long to grow past me.
Chris always had that amazing smile. It could melt your heart. He was always very caring. He would always ask how our animals were. He loved our dog Putnam and the cats, he had a couple of cats too. He was a devout Red Sox fan, which he got from my father and brother. So sad he did not get to see them win the World Series (or did he have the best seat in the house?) He was very into RAP and Hip Hop music. He wore the baggy pants and my husband would always ask him if he needed a belt. He loved Eminem and 50 Cent. I never quite understood that music, but have listened to it more since he died and though I still don't like some of it, some of it I have found meaning in. Chris loved board games and card games. Games of all types actually. Chris was very good with little kids. He wanted to be a teacher and I think he would have been great. Chris had this goofy sense of humor (like his father and grandfather)....we call it the Bascom humor... so corny, he and Brian were like a comedy team together
He was a loyal friend. I did not get a chance to meet many of his friends until after his death. But they all said how he was a good listener and would always try to cheer them up when they were down. How he was there for them and always made them feel better.
Chris was just 3 weeks shy of his 17th birthday when he was struck by a hit and run driver in November 2003. He was riding his bicycle home from a friends house and was thrown into the only stone wall on the entire road. Chris' mom had a feeling that night and left dinner on the stove to rush out and look for Chris. She found him not far away, and the nightmare began. Chris was rushed to the hospital. He was very cold as he had been there for probably 15 or 20 minutes before Amy found him.
We gathered at the hospital. But we were not prepared for the news the doctor would deliver. Severe brain stem injuries, not much hope. Our world fell into darkness as he uttered those words. The doctors wanted to warm him up and see if brain function improved. Hours went by as we were left to wait and absorb this horrible news, this most unfathomable information...so impossible, so wrong! Very late that night we were finally allowed to see Chris. I had seen him just a month before at my grandmother's 92nd birthday party. I remembered thinking how nice it was that even at 16 he wanted to come to these family gatherings. To wish his great-grandmother Happy Birthday. He and Brian were like a comedy team that night, bouncing jokes off eachother. I cherish that so much. Now we were faced with saying goodbye...forever. I thought, how can I just kiss him one last time and walk away? How can I make this last goodye....to last a lifetime??
Early that next morning Brian and Amy had to make the agonizing decision to take Chris off life support. He breathed on his own for a while, then passed away. We all lost part of ourselves that day. Chris was the only child in my family, my parents only grandchild. Our future had been stolen from us, Chris' future had been stolen from him. The next days were a blur, helping Brian choose a casket for his only child...the wake which saw more than 2,000 people come to say goodye...seeing my brother kneeling over his child's casket at the cemetery, knowing he just wanted to lay down beside Chris that day.
The guy who killed Chris had several prior DWI arrests and had just gotten his license back in 2000. He was caught the following day, but it could not be proved that he was intoxicated. Though the police gathered testimony from a local bar owner that this guy was there for several hours before heading home that day. He was charged with "leaving the scene" and "tampering with evidence", as they found him trying to repair damage to his truck from the collision. Christopher's mom was galvanized by inequality in the laws, which rewarded people who leave the scene of an accident with less jail time than if caught drinking and driving. She got a law passed in NYS which raised the class of the felony with greater punishment time. The guy who killed Christopher is serving 2-6 yr sentence. He has already tried for parole twice in the first 2 yrs and applied to get his license back. We will fight him every step of the way, for Chris who cannot speak for himself any longer.
Chris wanted to be an 8th grade history teacher. He would have made a difference in this world...he did make a difference in so many lives in his short 16 years, 11 months and 11 days. We will miss him and hold him in our hearts forever and long for the day we are reunited.
luv and hugs, Karen
proud aunt of Christopher
bottom photos are: Chris and mom, Chris and stepdad Bob, Chris little, Chris with dad and grandpa, Chris with me