IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Cherishing Chris and the Gifts He Shared

Read an excerpt of "Footprints of Courage."

Three priests presided over Chris’s memorial service, with Fa-ther Tim Power, pastor at Pax Christi, leading the way. “We’ve come here to cry,” acknowledged Father Tim. “We’re also here to celebrate . . . But, most importantly, we’re here to be faithful.”

I stood between Sara and Steve. Sara and I held on to each other tightly. When we all sang “On Eagle’s Wings,” the tears flowed. Hug¬ging our beautiful daughter, I wanted so desperately to take away her crushing pain.

Christian Bailey gave the first eulogy: “No matter how you knew him—Chris, Christopher, Jenks, or Schmenkins—he always left you feeling like you mattered. He had the ability to melt your insecurities away and make you feel welcome. He lived passionately; confident, but never cocky. Chris stood up for what he believed in; most ¬importantly—his family and friends. He never lived his life for other people, but he always included everyone in his life.

“His smile went from ear to ear and his blue eyes sparkled when he filled a room with laughter. He thought even ordinary events should be celebrated, finding joy in the people and expe-riences in his life. Chris loved telling stories, often creating ten-minute narrations, complete with sound effects and a sound track. The last time we hung out together, we listened to a band at a local bar. Jenks laughed and danced until the place closed. Then he danced the whole way home.

“Bailey ain’t heavy; he’s my brother.”

“Chris’s ability to work hard and persevere was without equal. On the lacrosse field Jenks always stepped it up a notch. He was a great player and a tremendous team leader. A two-time team captain and team vice president, he is currently the reigning MVP goalie in the Upper Midwest. His awards include All-American on the field and Academic All-American in the classroom. Chris demonstrated a total team commitment; only his family and school came first. He made himself into the player he became, always working hard at practice, lifting weights, and exercising. He set the standard by never taking credit, yet he was always willing to share the blame. Chris constantly pushed his teammates toward success, wanting everyone to succeed on and off the field.

“As the quintessential jokester, Chris was never afraid to be the butt of his own jokes. He wore a Spiderman costume made for a twelve-year-old (backwards to boot—a mistake?) to our lacrosse banquet, a full-body one-piece snowsuit to practice one warm spring day, used pillows as a chest protector when a thief stole his gear, and he always wore his big goalie cup on the outside of his shorts. You never knew what he would do next! He saved the life of a cat named Marley, and did more good in his twenty-one years than most would do if they lived one hundred years. Although he was stolen from us too soon, I consider myself lucky to have known him.

“Jenks exemplified all that is right in this world . . . he took the path less traveled . . . Quick to make you laugh, genuine even in jest, Jenks, we mourn our loss with heavy hearts . . . We will celebrate the gifts you have given us so generously. It was an honor to have known you and a blessing to be your friend. We are going to miss you, Jenks, but we will never, ever forget.”

Next our private investigator, Chuck Loesch, delivered a heartfelt speech. He cared deeply, sacrificing so much, giving his all, in the search for Chris.