Saturday, November 27, 2010

One Year

The other night I unintentionally came across Chris's obituary from the Green Hills Funeral Home website. It was not something I was expecting to see. All at once everything that happened just slapped me in my face. I read the obituary and once again realized that yes, this tragic event did occur. After reading it, I saw a link for "condolences." I vaguely and very hazily remember reading through these last year as people were so generous to post them. But I was in such a state of shock that I didn't remember what beautiful words they contained. I began crying as I read them  realizing what a wonderful life my brother lead and the many lives he touched.   I think God wanted to remind me that what an amazing life my brother led in his short time on earth. One quote really sums it up: "Chris's life was short, but he lived it well."

On this day one year ago my precious brother lost his life and went to sit beside our heavenly father. I miss him more everyday. And the reality of him not being here sinks in more and more everyday. But on this anniversary I think it's important to remember the impact he made in his life. I went through the comments and selected some to share with you. Even after his death, Chris is impacting my life.  To me, Chris's attitude and zest for life are something to be envied, and I think he was the way he was because he really adhered to this passage: "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." -Matthew 6:34.  As you will see many of the commenters say, Chris was a laid back person that was able to make quick connections with others and live life one day at a time.

“I'll remember the slight smiles, the quiet assured voice, the laughs and most of all the joy he possessed for life” -Dick Frederick

“Chris's life was short, but he lived it well. We are lucky to have known him.” -Anne Messner

“I have never met a finer young man.” -Bruce Higdon

“He was just one of those people who was a joy to be around and always had a good time no matter what we were doing. Chris was one of a kind and I am lucky to have called him my friend.” -Elisa Savage

“He would have done anything to help a student and went out of his way to make it happen.” –Elizabeth Rooks

“I feel that Chris has been called home for a higher purpose, and as long as we remember him he will always be with us.” Sheila Larkin

“Students could walk into his office feeling like they couldn't make it and they would leave ready to take on the world.” -Stephanie Hunt

“He always had time, or would make the time, to listen and try to help everyone who reached out for help. When he did not have the answers a student needed, he made sure to stay with the student until he found someone who did.” -Stephanie Hunt

“I am an adjunct professor in theatre at CVCC. I would see Chris walking around on campus and he always had that quirky smile of his shining on his face. At this year's fall semester registration he told me how he was really working to get students to sign up for theatre classes here. I really appreciated that.” -Cheryl Palmour, CVCC

“Chris was my co-worker, having begun working at CVCC just a month or so before me. The fact that we were both new employees created a small bond between us. But Chris was so easy-going and pleasant, there didn't have to be a reason for bonds to be formed with him. They just happened.” –Debbie Boone

“He was a good advisor and he was always there when i need someone to talk too about my classes.” –Tara Weaver

“He never manifested anything other than cordialness, and was willing to go beyond expectation in helping others. Mr. Patterson was one of the many individuals who have helped me succeed in my endeavors at CVCC, and will definitely be missed and forever cherished.” -Torri Davis

“Chris was a wonderful advocate for students at CVCC. We worked together many times trying to help students overcome personal and academic problems. He was such a joy! I loved our chats in my computer lab and his sincere love for life was certainly contagious.” –Susan Young

“Mr. Patterson was a great guy all around with a big heart.” –Christina Nolin

“I remember the Christmas he drew my name for Secret Santa: after gushing over how impressed I was that he, a young bachelor, picked out the perfect gift (the cutest tree ornaments), he confessed with red cheeks and a sheepish smile that he had help (if memory serves, his mom or sister). That was Chris: adorable, thoughtful, sweet and honest.” –Kim Saadeh

“While I was a student at CVCC Chris helped me on numerous occasions. He also helped me out several times as a fellow co-worker, without question or hesitation. He was always calm and considerate of others. He was also able to identify with students no matter what their background was.” –Jennifer Lunsford

“Too few good people are on [the earth] today and unfortunately, I believe Mr. Patterson was one of those few. I will remember him as a friendly smile to be seen on the CV campus.” –Laci Walker

“If it was not for Chris I probably would not have got far as I have at CVCC. It seemed no matter how busy he was, he always had time to help me out. When I first came to CVCC he walked up to me and introduced himself and helped me register for classes, he was the first person that I really met at CVCC. He was always humble and always had something good to say, one of the nicest persons you would ever meet.” –Chris Redden

“Chris was one of the good guys. Solid. Dependable.” –Brad Wahl

“He was there for me during some difficult times and I am very grateful to have known him when I did.” –Christopher Marcum

“I can remember very clearly when I had just enrolled at CVCC as a full-time freshman in late 2003, I went to Chris for some Academic counseling, and after sitting in his office for a few minutes, my path was made clear with very excellent, professional, and friendly advice from Chris. I followed his recommendations, suggestions, and guidance and from then on, it was smooth sailing for me at CVCC, academically and otherwise. On many occasions, Chris and I, together with Daniel Kilcrest, would meet at around 6:00pm on Thursdays to Jam on our guitars in Wilson Hall and have fun. Music was always therapeutic for Chris. He had an ability to set one at ease and to make you realize that you don't have to stress and be overly concerned about life's obstacles but that everything will eventually level out and you will see your way through. He was the kind of person who could relate on any one's level and yet earn your respect by just his manner and the way he conducted himself.” –Herbie F. Jack

“I just want to let each and everyone that is reading this how much Mr. Patterson helped me to graduate CVCC. I had a lot of medical issues that was trying to stop me from succeeding and Mr. Patterson was there for me. He always had a positive word for me when ever he saw me. He made sure that my instructors was aware of my condition and was there to help me. I could go to him for any help that I needed. The world has lost a good man and I am honored to have meet him. God sent me this Guardian Angel and now he has called him home.” -Charlene Spencer

“Chris was one of my teachers at cvcc, he always had a smile and was always encouraging even when you felt like you couldn't go any futher.” –Melissa Boyd

“As I reflect on the five years that I've known Chris, the two things that play out in my mind the most are his smile/smirk (particularly when we were enjoying a bit of innocent nonsense) and the time he gave me some very sage advice. He once calmly advised me, "Shinene, you gotta just take things easy...just take it easy...don't let anything get to you." What words of wisdom!” –Shinene Currington

“We loved Chris so much because he reflected the attributes we aspired to own. We looked at him and we saw ourselves as we would like to be. We visited with him and recharged our own energy level. He empowered all of us, especially his students, to be better people.” –David Hodge

“went to Mr. Patterson for everything involving my education and he always did everything he could to help me stay on the right track. He wasn't even my assigned advisor but i knew i could always count on him.” –Jessica Bankston
“Eventhough I was assigned a differnt advisor, I would always knock on his door and ask him was he busy? He would smile, laugh and say "No Mrs. Elam, come on in." I know he was busy and he knew he wasn't my advisor, but he never turned me away.” –Eva Elam

“He made my years at CVCC great, because he would always offer words of encouragement, even if I didnt see things as positive as he did for myself. He was one of God's angels, and I thank his family for sharing him with each and every person that was touched by him.” -Keiandra Brundidge

“ Chris had an amazing gift to seemingly instantly bond with people; after a short time, I felt like I had known him all of my life.” –John Brewer

“Some people spread the gospil of the lord by preaching the words of God. But others just simple walk in his glory, this is somthing that Mr. Patterson did every day just living his life. When you see a good man , that man holds his head high with honor and glory.He never had to boast about his self because it spoke for itself. I know for a fact that Chris is in a far better place than this world.” –Traci Bridges

Chris's "slight smile" or "smirck." One of the things about him I miss most.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On your birthday...


Today, you would have turned 33. Because birthdays are a time of celebration, I want to celebrate the life you had. As hard as it is, I will not make today a time of sorrow. Instead, I will make today and this post full of celebration because I know that is how you would want it.

To start the celebration, I have a couple of pictures that I think really show your true personality:

I love these pictures. When I look at them they help me remember what a funny and easy going guy you were. You always made me laugh. Sometimes just hearing your laugh would make me laugh. Your laugh was infectious that way. I don't think I will ever forget your laugh.

And let's not forget this picture:

Not only does it remind me of your fun-loving personality and creativity, but also of your love for Halloween costumes. Speaking of Halloween, your four legged man costume was one for the record books. Only you could create and pull off such a awesome creation. I think those 2 legs you made are still out in the garage somewhere. And you know you what those 2 legs remind me of? Your split machine. You were dead set on perfecting your karate skills (with Lauren and I often being your punching bag) and you thought the split machine would help with those karate kicks. But I think the best laugh we got out of the split machine was when Grandmama thought it was Lauren's headgear for her braces.

And these pictures will always be the most special to me:

They remind me of the fun times the three of us had together.

The photographer told us this was a candid shot. This picture reminds me of the phone call mom received a couple of weeks ago from a lady that had attended CVCC. She said she went with her daughter, who was enrolling at CVCC at the time, to meet with you to go over several things. While she was there, you asked her if she would like to enroll as a student and earn a degree like her daughter was doing. She had never really thought about that before, but you encouraged her and she enrolled. She graduated from CVCC and then went to Troy where she maintained a 4.0. She did all of that because of you...because you were an encourager. And this is just one story. Throughout your career you touched the lives of many, many students and a little part of you lives on in each of their life stories.

Chris, on your birthday, I'm reminded that you lived a life worth celebrating.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Chris Patterson Outstanding Student Award

I have never felt as helpless in my life as I did standing in the ICU watching my brother's vitals drop slowly over the matter of an hour. There was nothing I could do to nurse him back to health. There was no sum of money I could have paid, no highly specialized medical team I could have sought out. For someone who feels like I have control over most aspects of my life, this situation just made me want to scream into eternity. I'm sure if I felt helpless there is no telling how my parents felt. As I reflect over that day in particular and those 3 weeks during which my brother was in the hospital, I realize that as much control I think I might have over everything in my life, God is ultimately who has the control. For reasons that I will never know or understand, November 27, 2009 was Chris' last day on earth.

There were several times over those 3 weeks in the hospital that the doctors saved Chris from death, and there was even a time that my family and his friends surrounded his bedside and literally cheered him onto higher vitals. But as I reflect, I think those moments where doctors and family attempted to revive Chris were a delay of God's ultimate plan.

I don't know why Chris' life on earth was so short but it's what I do know about Chris' life that makes the loss of him easier to handle. The more I think about him, his nature, the person he was and the lives he impacted the more I realize that Chris accomplished more in 32 years than some people have accomplished in 98.

My mom told me the other day that Chattahoochee Valley Community College, where Chris dedicated his life work to guiding students and giving them direction in obtaining their degrees, has created a new award to be given out at each graduation. The Chris Patterson Outstanding Student Award will be awarded for the first time in May. Chris' legacy continues to live on and I'm so proud of my big brother for all that he accomplished in his short life. This award in his memory is evidence of it. To think that 20 years from now I can attend a CVCC graduation and watch as someone accepts the Chris Patterson Outstanding Student Award with pride makes my heart smile.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Million Little Pieces

I realize that it has been quite a while since I posted anything on here especially considering that I promised I would post special memories of Chris. But up until this point, I was just not ready. Every time I started writing a new post I would stop just short of posting. I apologize in advance for any grammatical or stylistic errors. I really wanted to write this but am in a rush as I am trying to study for last semester's finals.

I think the grieving started for me a little later than normal because I was trying to hold it together through everything. Before the visitation and funeral, my family and I wondered how we would ever have the strength to get through such a thing. After the visitation we all talked about how it wasn't as hard as we thought. It wasn't as hard as we thought because I know God was carrying us through all of that in the palm of his hand. He instilled us with extra strength so that we could give Chris the proper burial he deserved.

The first time I came to visit Chris I stayed for about 4 days or so (it's all really a blur). At some point my parents decided that he was doing better and it would be ok for me to leave to go back to school. So I did. I was in the middle of studying for finals so I kept my phone on vibrate while in the library. One night I forgot to take it off vibrate (I know you are probably thinking how I could forget in such a situation but my mind was in a million different places). The next morning I woke up at 9:30am finding several missed calls from my dad starting at 7:30. I braced myself as I called him back for the worst news possible. He said I better come to Columbus, that Chris was not doing well. I flew out of my apartment, flew down back country roads in rainy weather thankful that my brother was still here with us when I arrived, even though just barely. As I arrived into town my brother had survived a very high risk transfer to another hosptial. It was considered high risk even though the hospital was 3 blocks away. That is how unstable his condition was. Later that night, as we were sitting in the waiting room a nurse came down the hallway with a grim look on her face. All of this was like something out of a movie. Every time a nurse or doctor came down the hallway you braced yourself for the worst and the worst news is what she had: Chris was rapidly declining. And my sister was still in Ecuador. As my mom, dad and I walked down that hallway embracing each other before going into see Chris all I could think was that we would never all be together again. The last time we were all together was a little less than a year ago at Christmas. My favorite times and memories are of the 5 of us being together, just us, enjoying a good home cooked meal and some wine. And in that moment my heart broke into a thousand different pieces. More hurtful than the worst break-up, something you've never felt until you have experienced it. But my brother yet again gave me another speical gift...he hung on and survived that night and kept surviving until Lauren arrived...and he even held on some days after her arrival so that we could all have time together. And even though it wasnt our normal dinner table discussion and laughter, we were together as family. And on the night of Chris's passing as my mom, dad lauren and I surrounded Chris bedside holding his hands, singing to him and ppraying together, I felt like my family had never been so close before as we were in that moment. But i was so saddened that this was it, our last moments as the family we had always known. My heart remains in a million little pieces and I suppose that it will for a long time. But God sends my family and I messages that one by one help put the pieces back together. For much of this time my thoughts were consumed by the fact that we would never all be together again...until the other day when I had revelation: that was not the last time we will all be together again. We will one day all be in Heaven--in our real home--together enjoying a home cooked meal far better than any of us could ever imagine and lauging together into eternity. Chris just happens to be the first to get there.

Chris was always special to me. And as I got older he became an amazing friend to me as well as a brother. Since his passing, as I stated earlier, he has given me so many wonderful gifts. Most especially, he renewed and made stronger my relationship with Jesus. God has sent my family and I so many messages to let us know that Chris is there with him. Here are just a few:

In my room at my parents house I have a vanity table and on it there are several little poreclin figurines I have collected throughout my life, one being an white Angel that has very little box on the bottom that opens and closes. One day after Chris' passing I was sitting there geting ready to go somewhere and I stopped for a moment to think about everything. I looked at the angel, not remembering who had given it to me. I picked it up and opened the box. Inside was a tiny piece of torn off line ruled school paper. On the paper it said, "I love you, Aunt Hazel 1998." My dear sweet Aunt Hazel was my grandmother's sister and a godly woman. She had passed about 3 or so years before. Here, I had this angel for over 10 years and never once had I opened the little box. I know my Aunt Hazel is with Chris in Heaven and I felt like she was speaking out to me saying "I love you, he is here with me and everything will be ok."

On another occasion, right after the funeral something else happened. Around the time that my grandfather was very ill and soon before his death, my mother brought him a little plant (prob in 2006). She was there often with him so she took care of it and after his passing she brought it back to Troy. For four years she cared for this plant watering it and making sure it had proper sunglight, so she alwasy wondered why it would never bloom. She kept the plant in our big pantry (which has a window). Soon after Chris's passing she was in and out of the pantry and noticed to her surprise that the plant had finally bloomed. After four years there was finally a flower. That is the picture you see above. I think it is yet another sign from Heaven.

And lastly, the other night I had a very strange dream. I dreamt that Chris came back from Heaven. He did not talk much but he did tell us that he had come from Heaven although he couldn't tell us why. Most of the time he just say quietly and stared at us, but his gaze was very distant and he looked very unhappy to be with us. We tried asking him questions like what was God like and what was heaven like but he would not respond. The entire time he looked as if he wanted to return to where he had come from. After one day, he vanished. The next morning I woke up and vividly remembered this dream and was very disturbed by it. I reached to my daily devotional, as I normally do in the morning. Currently, I am using the Morning and Evening Edition of Grace for the Moment: Inspiration for each day of the year by Max Lucado (it's great, I highly recommend it). I was on schedule with the devoational so I turned to that mornings devotional and this is what it said:

"Made for Heaven"
My kingdom does not belong to this world. John 18:36
Unhappiness on earth cultivates a hunger for heaven. By gracing us with a deep dissatisfaction, God holds our attention. The only tragedy then, is to be satisfied prematurely. To settle for earth. To be content in this strange land...
We are not happy here because we are not at home here. We are not happy here because we are not supposed to be happy here. We are "like foreigners and strangers in this world" (1 Pet. 2:11)....
And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. Oh, you will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead.
-Max Lucado

I was disturbed by that dream because Chris seemed so unhappy being with us yet I was glad to know that he came from Heaven. As you can ascertain from the devotional above, Chris was not happy here because he had already been to Heaven and seen what true happiness is. Our God works in such mysterious ways. I think it was no coincidence that this devotional was for the morning of January 10, the morning after my dream. After reading that, I no longer felt disturbed by that dream. I just realized that Chris has arrived at our real home and knows a happiness that none of us on earth have yet to experience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Father Charles' Homily

I wanted to re-cap what Father Charles said so eloquently about Chris during his homily. It's not a direct quote...just what I can remember from that day.

Father Charles told a story about Chris from when Father Charles, Chris and several others went hiking on the Appalachain Trail for a day or two. He said Chris would be hiking with the group and then pass them and be the first to see the beautiful scenery along the trail. Father Charles said he knew Chris had reached a great view by look of awe and amazement on his face.

Chris is ahead of us with our Heavenly Father seeing beautiful scenery that none of us have evern seen before. I look forward to the day when I may be able to enjoy that beautiful scenery with him.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Highwayman

Below is a link to a live performance of one of Chris' favorite songs "The Highwayman" by the Highwaymen. Greg read some of the lyrics in his eulogy. Enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Beginnings

Below is a sermon by Father Thack Dyson about new beginnings. Father Thack was the priest at St. Marks before moving to St. Paul's in Daphne.

While my family and all of us who knew and loved Chris are still grieving and will be for months, this sermon sends a message that after we have grieved, we will all start new chapters in our lives. Here is an excerpt:

"As believers of the resurrection, we perceive the conclusions of their last earthly chapters of life as only the beginning of a new chapter for both of them---an endless chapter with God. But their deaths are more than that. They also usher in the beginning of the new chapters in our lives without them. These kinds of beginnings can be very hard for many of us [...]The reality, however, is that everything, including life as we know it—both the good and the bad—will never be the same. From this day forward, for everyone, life will never be the same. And sometimes, some days, that knowledge can really hurt. But as people of faith, we also know that what hurts us, if we acknowledge it, can also heal us. If we can honestly face the painful endings of our lives and deal with them, we are thus liberated to embrace the new beginnings that follow."