Monday, June 20, 2011

Marking the Quiet Passing of a Day - In Memory of Christopher

Those who are familiar with my work are familiar with a very bright and brilliant little boy who left our earth much, much too soon at the dawning age of 8 years old.  Christopher died unexpectedly on the first day of summer in 1990 and both his life and death left an immeasurable impact on my own life and how I would later deal with learning to grieve my childhood friend and creating artwork which could honor his legacy.  To learn more about our story, go here.

While I've shared with Chris's family what has unfolded in my artistry and how through Chris I've been able to connect with thousands of grieving families and offer a message of comfort and healing, I have not yet made them a sculpture as it seemed it would be somewhat of a magnum opus for me.  I came up against artist's block when trying to conceptualize a design, and for that reason up until this last week I had not committed to sitting and creating this important legacy piece for them.  I felt in my heart that when the time was right I would be led to create.

With Christopher's angelversary up and coming, I knew the timing had come upon me to present his family with this gift but I still could not climb over my own artists block to create the "right" sculpture.  Finally it came to me that I needed a closeness to him where I could sit in his quiet and feel his inspiration, so on Friday I journeyed to his graveside with my journal, blanket, clay, and camera.

Christopher's grave site is under the canopy of  a large conifer.  While sitting with him it brought a very profound and favorite memory to the forefront of my mind, and it is truly my most cherished memory of us.  Chris and I had the most chemistry when we bickered usually, but reflecting on this memory I know that it is one that God set aside for me to later relive and reflect on.  Our class went on a field trip to go apple picking at the orchards.  That day Christopher sat with me on the bus and he did something unexpected and tender.  He put his head on my shoulder, right on my shoulder cap and so it was bony and very uncomfortable for both of us to sit like that but he left it there and I sat as still as possible so not to discourage him.  It was a moment that solidified to me how close we were and I hoped we'd never reach the farm so we could stay like that all afternoon. On that bus ride I felt that we loved each other in the purest way that two children could, gender disregarded.

Later Chris stayed near me in the orchards.  Christopher was so very small, and I pulled the branches downward and he reached up for his apples to pick them.  When I close my eyes, I can still see the memory of his hands splayed with the sun behind them.  The moment I learned of his death, that was the exact image that I thought of.  Christopher, in his smallness, reaching for his apples with sunlight glowing in his fingers.  Despite the bittersweetness of the memory, when I think of that day I refer to it in my mind as the Harvest because I think it redirected and redefined what had grown between us.

When I went to Chris's gravesite for inspiration, I genuinely had thought I would be sculpting a family sculpture for him.  Being there with him, underneath his tree, and thinking of our defining memory together, a much different piece came to unfold in front of me.  Above are some photographs of my quiet time with Chris.  Below is the actual sculpture that I created and shipped to his family today, along with an album containing 30 letters from friends that Christopher has made all across the world.  His family will be floored to read them and see how far reaching Chris' legacy is.


Today we remember Christopher.  

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