Nine years ago today (June 16, 2007) was a Saturday. I was still living in Mexico as a full-time missionary. I got home to my apartment late that night because we were hosting a short-term missions team, and as the local STM coordinator and hostess, I spent my evenings with them. When I got home, I discovered I had a voice mail from my dad. That wasn’t really a normal thing (and it still isn’t), so I listened with some trepidation:
“Amber, this is Daddy. When you get a minute I need you to call me. Talk to you soon. Love you.”
I could tell by his tone that something was wrong; I was worried that my grandmother had passed away. Since I was two hours behind him, I got up at 5:00 a.m. that Sunday morning in hopes of calling and catching him before he and my step-mother left for church. I will never forget standing at my sink, my phone in the kitchen windowsill (the only place I had cell signal), watching the sky pinking up with the sunrise trying to process my dad’s declaration that my youngest brother, Chris, died the day before at his apartment in Florida. He was 24 years old.
A week later I flew home for the memorial service. I was home for about a week, and then I returned to Mexico and tried to jump back into life. That was my first real experience with deep loss and grief, and I had no one to help me through it.
Every year on the anniversary of his death, I post in remembrance of my brother. The intensity of the grief may have diminished over time, but the hole and the sense of loss never will. He was part of us, and we will never be the same without him.
Christopher Andrew Wiltshire
March 27, 1983 – June 16, 2007
He was a great guy — tender-hearted and full of love, and he had a keen sense of justice. As a kid he was always smiling and full of laughter. He loved to goof off and tell jokes and have fun. He constantly kept us all laughing and smiling. Out of all of us, he was probably the one to say most frequently the words “I love you” because it was important to him that those words be spoken and heard. In fact, they were the very last words he spoke before he died.
He added so much life and vibrancy wherever he went. He loved deeply, he lived deeply, and he felt pain deeply. And he is missed deeply. His body may not be with us anymore, but I know that we all see his smile in our mind’s eyes daily, and we miss his infectious laughter. But I also know we are all so thankful that his suffering is over and he is finally at peace with the Lord, laughing and goofing off in heaven with His Savior!
Please keep my family in your prayers as we continue to learn—even nine years later—how to live in a world with no Chris.