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A One-Off for CJ - Episode 78

September 28th 2021

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Welcome to unabashed you conversations to become who you already are, Rachelle here to listen and courage and to share another episode. The focus at UI is to be who you are without apology as you are one of a kind, without equal. These conversations will help you think, celebrate who you are and move you in some way. So listen, read and be inspired. Uh huh mm hmm. We have completed our insta summer series where each episode featured a guest I connected with on instagram. A big thanks to carla, Vitra, Christine, Nicholas, Shelly, Vivian, Tanya, Selene Jamie, Sarah Toby bijou lizzie and Newton and Adrian all 15 deepened my worldview about the importance each person makes and the impact each has had on me. Thank you. So what's next? Well today we have a one off.

It is aptly called a one off for C. J. Well who is C J C J. Is christian john and he is our son, He was born 24 years ago. Today, that's quite a milestone. However, Christian John did not get to live a very long life and in fact he died 92 days later, he had a heart defect and um that whole story is tremendously long and obviously a very difficult chapter for anybody to go through. It's not something you would wish on anybody I wanted to you know, celebrate and give a nod to our son for his um the impact he had on our life and to say that yes, it was sad. Yes, it was hard, yes, it was painful. However, I wanted to turn that around when I could when my grief was at a place of being able to look ahead to look behind and to see the good that came out of our time with christian.

So this is a celebration of life, this is not mourning a death which I have already done. So let me start off by saying a few things that really resonated with me at the time One, I don't say Christian would be 24 years old today. As in somehow there was a cosmic mistake and he didn't quite make it and I'm not going to tell you I know how that all works out because I don't. But I will tell you what works for me is to say it was 24 years ago today that he was born. That works for me. I do not begrudge those who say so and so would be this many years old if they were still here, that's great. You do you I'll do me. I respect the heck out of the way. You want to do things and I hope you do the same for me. So that's one thing. It was 24 years ago. Another thing is I had a very dear friend, tell me that you will have him to look forward to now for your whole life.

And that really struck me at the time. The truth of that for those of us who believe in the hereafter for those of us who have faith or a belief system that allows the thought and the belief that we will be with loved ones. Again, I would have him to look forward to my whole life. So I viewed that as a sweet, sweet truth for me. That was the truth. The other thing that was said to me at that time. And this is another thing that varies from person to person. The kinds of things you want to hear in that time. The kinds of things you don't want to hear at that time, I'm telling you, it varies because I've talked to different people and different people were upset by certain things that were said to them or weren't said to them and I found solace in a great many things that were said. Another thing that a neighbor came over an older gentleman who uh, came over to check in on us after christian had died.

Said, here's one thing I know God does not make mistakes. If God wanted christian here, he would be here now. Maybe if that were you, you wouldn't find comfort in that. I did. I found great comfort in that. It's very difficult at that time. You're trying to make sense out of everything. And so sometimes you find yourself hanging on to those little nuggets that speak to you and that was one of the ones that spoke to me. All right. So moving on, a few years after the fact, maybe more than a few I had the opportunity to speak about my time with our son or our time with our son. Not only the sadness of it all, but more importantly the goodness that came out of it and that is really what I want to focus on today. I want to honor his memory, his legacy by letting you know all of the good that came out of it and for my faith, I believe that God works all things for good, including this time with our son.

Okay, so let's start at the beginning. Um one of the things I noticed was that we had a some friends from high school who came, you know who found out and really rallied and were there for us in a huge way. This was a four couples total us included. They were so wonderful to us, so gracious in giving and loving and kind and thoughtful. That was a huge gift to come out of that time and I'm very grateful for that. Another thing that came out of that time was a woman I met who became a dear friend, started a prayer group after her son died a year and a half later I was able to get connected with her through a mutual friend and she started as I said this prayer group. We've been going 22 years every month. We pray for each other and are connected that it was a huge gift to come out of this.

Another big gift was we had a fan, a neighborhood family who we did not know very well because we were new to our, to our neighborhood when all this happened, who left us a bereavement card that had tickets, sent it to a Children's play, thinking this would be nice for their family. We had four kids at that time between us with christian having passed, we had the remaining for, we went and saw the play and one of our kids turned to us and said, oh I want to do this. Well let me tell you that shaped his life in a very large way. He's still a performer today. He's made lifelong friends, friends through his connections during those growing up years of uh middle school through high school and beyond. It formed him in a huge way. Now could that have happened in another manner. Sure. Absolutely. But this is how it did happen. So I'm telling you another gift and a dear friend who I was as 1/5 grade classroom teacher at the time, she reached out to me and we started seeing movies every week just faithfully every week for years and didn't even matter what movie we went to see just that time together, connecting.

It was wonderful. Another huge gift. Um we were able to adopt a girl, a baby girl a couple years after this after christian past and we know that she was meant for our family. So that is another huge gift to come out of our time with christian is our daughter that we adopted. Honestly I forget I didn't actually birth her. I mean she she is a part of who we are, she is a part of our family, another big big big gift. Um we had friends who were having fertility issues and the husband had said I you know I just I don't want to adopt, I don't you know if I can't have my own child, I don't think I want to do that. And so he was pretty adamant about that they tried IVF and all well after we adopted taylor that same group of couples we all got together every few months rotating houses.

He asked can I hold her and she was a baby at the time and he held her and he got to spend all this time with her bonding connecting that was not necessarily the norm. But I will tell you that after that he went to his wife and said you know what I want to adopt and they now have a I think she just turned 1919 year old daughter that they credit with our time with christian. Okay we're getting into the home stretch here with the gifts and these are the ones I've noticed I have no doubt there are many, I have not noticed after christian died we decided to get a dog for the kids. and for for our family we adopted a well of course because you didn't, you don't have a puppy adopted Buffy. We got a golden retriever that we named lacey and she was wonderful and she really helped me with my grief. Just the unconditional love that a dog has help me heal.

It was wonderful. Years later she died of cancer. We got another golden retriever. This one was Callie Fast forward 13 years she passed on and now we have a dog named Layla, another golden retriever. We can't seem to get off that breed. Okay so through that organization that our son got involved with in being an actor and now a professional voice actor. I actually got involved in the company as well and worked there for 15 years which led me to meet a lot of great people use my skills of education and experience with working with kids and bringing performing arts programs to schools all over the county in which we live san Diego. That was a great huge blessing. Also I put a book together. It was self published meaning I took the letters I had written to christian, I wrote the letters I had written to God I took the different letters people wrote us.

I put this great narration that wove it all together and it's called standing tall. A collection of mourning actually is my plan at some point to kind of revisit that revamp it and see if it's got an audience out there. It's a, I think a beautiful book of grief because it doesn't cut corners. It's very raw and very real and yet it's hopeful, it's hopeful. Also that same gal that I saw movies with every week she started a nonprofit for wounded military veterans called Standing Tall Together which was a beautiful tribute to the book, standing to all our time with christian and from there I reconnected with another friend and we decided to start taking tap dancing classes together and we ended up being in a few recitals which was a real kick in the pants when you're not a kid to be a dance recital, I could probably think and share more, but I want to leave you with that.

Oh, there's one more Taylor seemed like she was going to be the last grandchild of that generation, but lo and behold my brother in law and sister in law said, you know, we think there's one more child for this family. So they went on to have a daughter named Grace and my sister in law told me that, you know, she felt with tailor's passing, there was a hole left in the family, not taylor's passing christians passing that there was a whole life in the family that both Taylor filled and now our niece Grace filled as well. So there you have it, I am actually physically looking at a tree that I created on poster board And no, I am not an artist that has all of these gifts that are in the branches of the tree that helped me to remember the Good. If you can look for the good it is there and I absolutely encourage you to do so because you cannot stay in your grief indefinitely.

It's harmful. It's unhealthy. There's a time to move on and that looks different for everyone. I'm not going to tell you. There is a tried and true pat formula, There is not. And it comes back to bite you at times when you least expected a smell a sound. What have you. I now have absolute joy at having had that experience and I know that might sound weird, but that's how I feel. I would never have volunteered never. But I am very grateful. I had the experience and I have him to look forward to for the rest of my life. I hope as you listen to this, you will think about maybe some of the hard things that you've been through and you will look for the good that has come out of it. The gifts that has come out of it. That is my hope for you today. So a shorter episode than normal.

We're getting ready for our next series, the Mahalo Maui which will be four different people we connected with on our time in Maui recently. I am very grateful for your time. I am grateful. You're investing in conversations and in wanting to be you to become you to become who you already are. Without apology. You are one of a kind, you are without equal. Let me know if I can help you encourage you and support you in any way. I'd be more than happy to do so and to you, christian john I say happy birthday son, I'm thinking about you, I love you and miss you love mom. A big thanks to christians Uncle john who wrote that beautiful piece of music. We didn't even find out about it for the longest time and I couldn't believe when I saw this song entitled CJ that it was for christian or inspired by him, I should say it's beautiful, it's haunting, it is deeply moving and of course very touching that john would write a song about christian john inspired by him.

Thank you john for sharing your talents with us. The unabashedly website has a page for each guest of photos, quotes in a blog with embedded audio at unabashedly dot com. You can find the show on other podcast platforms. Want to lend your support encouragement. We invite you to subscribe, follow, rate, review and share on instagram and facebook. You can find us under unabashedly. You if you want to connect the email is unabashedly, you at gmail dot com for questions, comments etcetera and if you want to be on our weekly email is highlighting that week's episode. Give me a shout. I'd be happy to add you and your info will not be shared. We rely upon website visits, social media and word of mouth to share these episodes. We are grateful for growth. Knowing these conversations help you think, celebrate who you are and move you in some way. So continue to listen, read and be inspired. And now our blessing laugh until you cry, dream big travel the world, Watch a sunset fall in love, take a risk, order dessert, shake things up, treat yourself once in a while.

Dance sing out loud. Give with a happy heart. Be thankful, be you Amen and credited. I'm not sure the source of that but I do like it being a bash at y'all be you. Mm Yeah. Mm

A One-Off for CJ - Episode 78
A One-Off for CJ - Episode 78
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