We’re having your graveside service today. It’s going to be a very small group, just family. I don’t think we’ll do much. Everyone is coming over to the new house afterwards for a small reception. I got all the food from Costco. No pinwheels. You hated those so much.
I also finally picked up your ashes yesterday, the ones we’re not burying. I put a little aside for each of the kids, some for me for a tattoo (I’m getting the Tlingit love birds one you wanted so much), and then we’re going to spread the rest in Dingle. I hope that’s the right place. You always said ‘My heart belongs in Dingle’. That was my favorite day with you.
Right now you’re sitting on the nightstand on your side of the bed. It’s weird.
I realized yesterday that I haven’t done much to tell your story. Not with this blog or anywhere else really. I’m sorry. You were right, by the way. I am selfish. Or actually thoughtless.
I’m not selfish. If someone asks me for something I give. I do a crappy job of thinking about other people though. I need someone to tell me to think about them.
Just like how all I talk about is how much I hurt but I don’t talk about you. I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you more.
I’m going to try and tell your story. I’m sure I’ll forget stuff. I’ll probably tell people some stuff you wouldn’t want them to know. Sorry in advance.
OK, here goes.
Christine was born in Sitka, AK. When you live in SE Alaska and you’re on Native healthcare you have to go where the facilities are. In her mom’s case that meant travel from Petersburg to Sitka.
She grew up in Petersburg (with a short 6 month stay in Skagway). They lived in a trailer, mostly because they had to rely only on her mom’s salary because her dad just isn’t a good guy. In fact, he’s terrible. He’s a monster.
This overshadowed her life. It would anyone’s, but in her case she grew up very mistrustful of people. She was always looking for hidden motives and rarely believed people had her best interest at heart.
However, she did have some people in her life that loved her a lot. Her mom and grandfather were on team Christine from the beginning.
She was a pretty girl and had a lot of neighborhood friends. She wasn’t much of a student.
She was also fiercely proud of the fact that she started commercial fishing when she was in 2nd grade and would regularly bring it up when people were complaining about how hard life is.
As she got older she became sadder, and with that came weight gain, and with weight gain came more sadness.
Kids were cruel to her. She was a Native girl in a town populated by Norwegians, some of them incredibly racist. There were times she wasn’t allowed in homes of her friends because she was ‘dirty’. They also picked on her because of her weight.
Kid: Tubby tubby, 2 x 4, grease your hips to get through the door
She told me that story many times.
Her father never paid her for fishing so she started working when she was 14 at the local Trading Union. She also worked at a pizza place making desserts and espresso.
Sadness was a regular part of her youth. She talked about it a lot. She also talked about how her grandfather and mother protected her from her dad. They were bright spots in a dark world.
Christine graduated when she was 17 and moved to Washington to attend beauty school. When she got here she found out that the world was a much bigger place and that people liked her and her sense of humor. She started going to clubs and got into the rave scene. She lost a lot of weight.
She met a guy in the navy, a pretty terrible person who treated her like crap. Because of her feelings about herself she didn’t think she could do better and stuck with this guy for a lot longer than she should. He was the only person she ever dated besides me.
School didn’t last long, one quarter. Christine found jobs to keep her apartment, eventually landing a sales job at Tiny Computers. She was told by her manager that her job was to stand at the front of the store and look pretty to draw people in and then he’d sell the computer and give her credit.
That manager eventually left and she learned to sell on her own. She was promoted to Lead Sales, similar to an Assistant Manager role. The new job was at the showroom where I worked. We both applied and she got it.
I hated her instantly. I was also incredibly attracted to her.
After a few days of bullying from me Christine pulled me outside and asked me what my problem was. This little 19 year old woman got in my face. I apologized and we became friends. And then more than friends.
She later told me she couldn’t believe how long it took me to ask her out. She would do things like lean over me so that her breasts would push against my arm, laugh at my jokes when they weren’t funny and get into things she knew I had interest in.
I wanted to ask her out very badly. I had talked to a friend shortly after meeting her,
Me: She bleeds sexuality
I was scared. She was super intimidating.
I finally asked her to come over and cut my hair. She agreed. I asked for frosted tips. It was 2000. Don’t judge.
We kissed that night. She slept next to me on my twin mattress, both awkwardly fully clothed.
And we never looked back.
I’m pretty sure Christine got pregnant the first time we had sex. I asked her to marry me a couple months after that.
I used a $2 ring I bought at a stand in the mall.
She said yes.
These things never work. She was 19. I was 21. It was doomed. But we did it.
I was upset with her for getting pregnant. I was not nice.
She planned a trip home after K was born.
Christine: How long should I stay?
Me: I don’t care
And then something happened. We fell in love.
No that’s not right. She loved me. I fell madly deeply in love with her. It was a holiday weekend. Labor Day? I don’t know for sure.
We had such loud sex the cops were called. That’s pretty personal but it’s a great story.
It was HOT. The windows were open. When we were done-
Cops: Renton PD. We need you to keep it down. We’ve had several noise complaints.
How long had they been standing there listening? We laughed uncontrollably.
K was born.
Two weeks later we were married at the Issaquah courthouse in front of my parents and her mom.
She took that trip back to Alaska. I missed her so much. Every minute.
I’m making this about me again.
She tried to be a good mom. I was out of work and staying home with K. She worked everyday and brought in all of the money.
I got a job. We found a place to rent. She worked delivering papers in the middle of the night so K didn’t need daycare.
Her grandfather’s health was failing. She wanted to be around him. I wanted an adventure. We decided to move to Alaska.
We struggled at first. The child support for B was crippling. Christine worked hard. First at a bank, then at the assisted living facility. I did better. We bought a house ‘out the road’. The property touched the ocean. It was ours.
I started traveling for work. Her depression got worse. Then she started taking medication. The medication made her not care about anything. I’d get home and find out K hadn’t been to school while I was gone.
We wanted another kid. It was her dream. We tried and tried but found out she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This meant she should not be able to get pregnant. And then she did.
T was born. Christine held her every minute she could. All the time. Even the slightest noise from T and Christine would pick her up and hold her close.
She also wanted a boy.
Me: I don’t want to have any kids after I turn 30
She took that as a challenge.
E was born 12 months and two weeks after T.
We had a full family. She had the family she always wanted.
I lost my job. We moved back to Seattle.
Christine wanted to chase her dream of being a hairdresser. We didn’t have the resources to put her through school but we did it anyways. I always gave her anything she asked for. Absolutely anything.
She finished school and went to work. Six months in she was a salon manager. Six months after that she was running 6 stores.
I am so impressed by her. I don’t remember all of the steps of her career through the years but she just went for it. She was the first person in her family to get promoted. And she just kept doing it.
Her hands started to hurt from cutting hair and she wanted to quit. She also wanted weight loss surgery. We were in a position to do it. We had to work hard for six months to prove she cared enough to do it. She was in the gym 3-4 times a week. She changed her diet. Like always, she worked her ass off.
The surgery was scary. It isn’t a small one. I walked six miles while I waited to hear how it went. The doctor came out and told me it went well.
The weight fell off. She was so happy. She was so so happy. Everything was perfect.
We bought a house. We loved more. We loved so hard.
It was all so good.
And then it wasn’t. Christine started to get jealous. She thought I was having an affair. She was convinced.
I wasn’t. Just so everyone knows. But she was sure.
I stopped talking to anyone from work outside of work hours. I did everything I could to prove to her I was only into her. But it didn’t go away.
She got a new job. It was a temp position. Then it was permanent. Then she got promoted.
She was insanely popular at work. Everyone loved her so much. It’s not hard to understand why.
At home the fights came more frequently. She would get so mad at me. Anything could lead to it. She would bring up things from 5, 10, 15 years before.
She started cutting people from her life. One slight and they were gone. It kept getting worse.
She started telling me the same thing.
Christine: I want you to find someone else. Why won’t you just find someone to make you happy?
She didn’t believe the person I loved more than anything else in the world was her. She hated herself. It got worse.
When she got mad she would leave. She would sleep in the car. She would go to the bar. She would buy wine and just drink. So much.
She started hiding her drinking from me. I would find airline bottles and boxes of wine hidden all over the place.
And then Norway. We agreed she would seek help when we got home. She pleaded with me to sit in her sessions because she said she would lie otherwise. It was all set.
And then she didn’t make it home.
Christine was passionate. She cared so much. She wanted the world to be how it should. She was furious it wasn’t that way.
Christine was popular. Everyone gravitated to her. She was magnetic. She made you want her to be your friend.
Christine was funny. No, she was hilarious. I’ve never met a person I could laugh harder with. I’ve never met someone who always made me laugh. We spent so many moments in time crying because we couldn’t stop laughing. Bent over, doubled over. Painful laughing.
Christine was loving. She cared so much for our kids. It broke her heart when B was hurting so far away. She would defend me and the kids against everything and everyone. She always took our side.
Christine was beautiful. She was beautiful before her surgery. She never believed that I could love her and find her beautiful. She has always been the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever met.
Christine was smart. She succeeded when she should have failed. She was the most incredible person I’ve ever met.
Christine was broken. She thought in black and white, and the black kept taking more space.
Babe. I hope I did this right. I hope I told your story. I can’t include everything. I can’t expect people who didn’t know you to understand how incredible you were. You amazed me. You did what no one should have been able to do. You said ‘fuck it’ and just did it.
I miss you so much. The kids miss you so much.
Christine: I want you to find someone you can be happy with. Why won’t you find someone you can be happy with?
You are that person. I was so happy. I’m sorry I couldn’t make you understand that.
Babe, I loved you.
I love you. You are everything to me. I would do anything to have one more minute with you. Sacrifice anything.
I’d tell you I’m sorry. I’d tell you you’re the best thing I ever had. I’d tell you you’re the best thing the world had.
You are my everything.
I hope you’re better now. I hope you’ve found the peace you couldn’t find.
I miss you so fucking much.
3 thoughts on “Requiem”
You are amazing and so brave. I wish I had known about your struggle, but the two of you hid it well, I had no idea, none at all. Please know how much I am hurting also, and finding it so hard to share your heartache with you. You are my oldest grandchild, and I love you so much. I am thankful for the time I have shared with Christine, and I will miss her too.
Beautiful, Ben. 💙💙💙 I miss her.
this was beautiful, and honest, and the love in your heart is undoubted. like a black cloud, the pain of depression chokes your vision and the breath of life away. it is not your fault.