A Crystal Child

Crystal child. I’d never heard the term before.  I don’t mean this kind, interesting as it is. Let me backtrack, just a little.

Chris had an amazing psychiatrist. I credit him with giving us our son back, and fully believe that without him, we’d have lost Chris three years earlier than we did. Frank and I still go to see him. It’s a connection neither he nor we wish to break. Losing Chris was devastating for him, too. They weren’t just patient/doctor; they were friends.

With Chris’ birthday coming, we wanted to get together. In the course of our discussion, he said that, in his opinion, there was nothing so gut-wrenching as losing a child. End of story. But losing a crystal child comes with an added category of grief–knowing not just we but the larger world is denied what he would have given it.

A crystal child is brilliant, multifaceted, and fragile. That was Chris. The stuff locked away in that head of his, that he tried so hard to put out into the world? Gone. Talk to his professors, high school teachers, middle school, elementary. Talk to colleagues, friends, gym acquaintances. Brilliant doesn’t quite cut it. He was able to help others connect with concepts they thought beyond them. He tutored a lot in college, and he loved it. But there was so much in him he couldn’t share. Not that he didn’t try! He talked about things people didn’t quite grasp. Some simply weren’t interested. To have a brain full of knowledge to share and no one to share it with weighed on him, I know. It made him feel disconnected from his peers, and was one of the reasons he always felt apart. When he got going with someone who did understand and was interested? Holy jeez, sparks would fly out of his eyes, ears. His happiness, then, was breathtaking.

A professor recently told me that when he saw Chris coming, he’d put away whatever he was doing because he knew he was in for several hours of discussion. I’m certain there were times the man really didn’t have hours to spend with Chris, but he did, because he knew it was going to leave him feeling excited about…something. It made him remember, he said, what it was like to be twenty-something and enthusiastic about his chosen field of study. He also said Chris was light years beyond what he could get his head around, even after all his years teaching.

When we lost Chris, we lost a beloved son. He was goofy and sweet, gave amazing hugs. And he loved. So much. His smile was legendary. Cocky little bastard. He was never going to be easy. He could be infuriating, self-centered and, yes, a little arrogant. There’s that multifaceted thing–can’t point to one characteristic that didn’t reflect/deflect another. He might have always needed more than those who love him sometimes had to give. But that’s only a small portion of what HE had to give.

I’m his mother. Of course I knew he was “special.” In so many ways, Chris was the strongest person I’ll ever know. All he endured, how hard he strove to overcome every physical and mental obstacle that came at him–few could have faced all he did and come out the other side in one piece. His fragility is of a more subtle kind, a deadlier kind. The kind that hides within all the apparent toughness and strikes hard where it finds a crack.

Today is Christofer’s birthday. He should have been twenty-six. We’re never going to know what he’d have given the world. Good, bad, or otherwise. But I do know that our loss isn’t just ours, even if no one else ever does.



Filed under Family, Life's honest moments

36 responses to “A Crystal Child

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your son, Terri. I’ll be thinking of you today. ❤️


  2. Janis Wohlschlaeger

    You, your family, and Chris are in my thoughts today. xoxox


  3. Mark nelson

    He is the stardust in your stories.


  4. Kim Vandervort

    All the hugs, Terri. Love you.


  5. dianamunozstewart

    Oh, Terri-Lynne, this is so beautiful and painful. I love you.


  6. MaryAnn Forbes

    Your post made me cry. I can only imagine the pain you and your family experienced. Chris sounds like a brilliant a gentle soul. I think it is wonderful that you are keeping his legacy alive. I believe that you are also helping others in similar situations– a true gift. Happy Heavenly Birthday to Chris.


  7. Thank you for sharing your son’s brilliant light with us. It feels as though he shines on and on in your love. What a gift to us all. Much love to you and your family, Terri. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m thinking about you today and every day. Hugs to you all.


  9. I think the hardest part of losing a child is being robbed of an adult relationship — you can only imagine what could have been. There’s no getting around it either. You have to live with that loss. Every day.

    I wish I could hug you. Thank you for giving us a window into Chris’s life and personality, and giving us a glimpse of what he left behind.


  10. sarahhegger

    I want to leave you a comment to say I read this, but I’m battling to think of anything to say. Just speechless as I read this, so moved by both your incredible tribute and your courage. Such a lesson in love this post.


  11. So beautifully written, Terri. I’ll be thinking about you today and as the days roll by and praying for your continued strength.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thank you, Maggie. All this love truly makes an impact, not just in my world but the larger one. That’s what Chris was here for, I think. ❤️


  12. I hope you find joy and peace in your memories. Thinking of you. Happy Birthday in heaven, Chris.


  13. Dear Terri – Your words bring me to my knees, as I so feel the tenuousness of our kids’ lives. Your love is palpable. It permeates every thought that you so eloquently shared. What a gift you have given us – to better know Chris. He certainly has an amazing mother! Healing, comforting prayers your way…


  14. So heartfelt and beautiful. And that picture…just perfect. xoxxo


  15. Carol Lovekin

    Perfect words.
    Love in abundance – to the other side of the sky, cariad. xXx


  16. *HUGS* Terri. Sorry I missed this. Beautiful post. You’re always in my thoughts. ❤


  17. The Crystals emanate love in all their actions and deeds. They’re indicators that the human race is evolving above petty differences and squabbles. They’re living examples of operating from the higher-self and not the ego.


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