I haven’t written all that many personal posts here, but I have been feeling the need to share. On September 16, 2017 I found out my husband passed away in a car accident. I won’t begin to express all my feelings here (because there are a lot), but I will say that without my faith, I have no idea how I could make it through this time. His memorial service was just over a week ago, we called it; Honouring Chris(t).
Losing Chris has been a shocking and painful experience, which has also left me with a lot of questions about my future. I’m still working out the details of what I will pursue now, but I am not going to stop taking photos. Of the many things I have learned from this awful experience, I have realized how important having your photo taken truly is. Without me taking all the photos I did of Chris and our life together, I wouldn’t have those visual memories. They would just be memories in my mind that would slowly fade away. How depressing that would be. So, even though Chris may have slightly cringed at me at the time for taking yet ANOTHER photo of us, I am so thankful I did.
That’s what this weekend is all about right? Being thankful. So, even though it’s incredibly hard for me right now, I am thankful for all those photos I took. I am thankful that I have the honour of capturing other people’s memories in photos. I am thankful for the many friends, families and strangers that have reached out to me. I am thankful for the kind hearts who have been bringing me food, walking Decoy, sending money, delivering flowers, writing cards and messaging me to see how I’m doing. I’m thankful for friends who have stood by me through the toughest moments of my life so far and continue to comfort me. I’m thankful for my amazing parents and brother for keeping me close. I’m thankful for my Ekren family for continuing to embrace me like one of their own, like they always have. I’m thankful for our dog; Decoy – that he was found and unharmed after the accident. Having him feels like a small piece of Chris came back to me. I am thankful for the time I had with Chris, although it was cut short, it was a time I will never forget.
Chris’ memorial service was on September 30, 2017 and for those that weren’t able to attend or for those who want to read it again, this was what I said through my tear soaked eyes and shaky voice:
Before I begin I want to thank everyone that has come out today, it truly warms my heart to see all these lives that Chris’ life has touched. Chris had an ability to make friends wherever he went and he genuinely cared about each person he spoke with. It was easy to talk to him; he was quiet but relatable and accepting of everyone. A few times when we were dating he even stopped to buy lunch for homeless men that we passed on our walk, he was constantly thinking of others. Although he may have seemed like this strong, tough man who loved the outdoors and sports, he also had such a wonderful, big heart and generous spirit, that’s what drew me most to him.
As most of you will know Chris and I got married last year September 10, 2016 after having dated for 7 years. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary recently and were so excited about it. I had always heard that the first year of marriage would be the hardest. While the first few months were a little up and down as we got used to living with each other, the rest were incredible. If that was the hardest part, we were looking at a very bright future ahead. We were dreaming and making so many plans; we bought a home, got a dog, we wanted babies, eventually a farm and more dogs. We wanted to be the next Chip and Joanna Gaines; a husband and wife team building and designing homes together. We were so happy. So content just being with each other. It was blissful.
I still have a hard time believing Chris is gone. It took a couple days after I got the awful news that I finally had a moment alone. I got into Chris’ truck and wept. I prayed that God would show me a sign that Chris was really in Heaven. I knew his heart, but I just wanted a sign for myself to know and feel at peace. I spent a few more minutes in the truck just sitting in the passenger seat and then headed upstairs to our condo. Some of my friends were present and one of them noticed the most beautiful, vibrant sunset happening outside. I excitedly said, “That’s the sign!” That was the sign I had been wanting. It was the most gorgeous red/pink sunset I have ever seen and it took up our entire view from the balcony. As I stood out there with Decoy (our dog) beside me, a flock of geese flew overhead and some people blaring country music pulled into the nearby restaurant. So just in case I didn’t catch it, this was definitely God letting me know Chris was with Him. That has given me the peace and strength to continue on each day.
These last several days were never something we imagined. I still hear Chris’ voice in my head all the time, telling me sweet things or making fun of me (in a loving way). Most people didn’t get to see the cute, sensitive side of Chris that I got to experience. He loved to hold me, kiss my cheek and tell me how beautiful I am everyday he got home from work. He was so proud of how much my cooking was improving and when we would pray before dinner he always thanked God for “his amazing wife.” He found so much joy in funny little videos and songs, we silly danced around the house all the time. I’m sure our neighbors must have heard us laughing quite often. Chris liked to call it “family time” whenever we were on the couch watching a show and snuggling with Decoy. He would never let a day go by without telling me that he loved me. Even when I was mad at him on the phone, he would say “I love you Marie” and wait for me to say it back because we couldn’t hang up without me saying it back. I always said it, I always did love him and I’m so glad that we made sure to do that and say those words to each other. I can’t emphasis enough how important it is to let your significant others and family know how much you love them everyday and to cherish every moment.
One of the most special moments, which I will never forget, was our wedding day. It was the Best Day Ever. It was filled with so much fun, kindness, joy and love. Such wonderful speeches were made and we danced our little hearts out. We didn’t make it home til 5:30 in the morning – we just didn’t want it to end. After the wedding Chris really liked being able to say “You’re my wife!” and I would happily respond with “You’re my husband!” Then we would just laugh and smile at each other in a way that felt so comfortable and right. I remember our vows from our wedding and hold them dear to my heart. I want to share them with you all today, slightly revised.
Christopher Raymond Ekren,
I started falling for you when I was 17 painting your face green for our high school’s Wizard of Oz musical. After 2 months of dating I knew I loved you and wanted to tell you, but you said it first when you signed my yearbook. I am so happy you did. Through these past 8+ years you encouraged me and challenged me in all aspects of life. We have been through a lot together and with all the ups and downs we continued to grow and strengthen our relationship. You changed me for the better.
Chris, I love your sense of humour even though I couldn’t tell if you were being sarcastic or serious half of the time,
I love that you were ambitious and hard working but knew when it was time to relax and enjoy the little moments,
I love the way your eyes lit up and you smiled like a child when I gave you a gift that you didn’t even know you wanted until you opened it,
I love your curly hair, your green eyes, your perfect eyelashes and your handsome face,
I love how safe I felt when I lay in your arms listening to your heartbeat,
I love how much you valued family and I wish I could have seen you as a father one day. You would have been such a great dad.
I love that you were strong and honourable, yet warm and compassionate, loving and accepting of all people.
But most of all, I love that you and I both love each other so much.
I promise to continue our dreams, goals and plans we made together.
I promise to always respect you and the unique talents and abilities you had.
I promise to be faithful to you, to trust you and to honour you.
I promise to cherish our friendship and continually do things that make you smile.
I promise to always keep laughing and having adventures you would want me to go on.
I promise to think of you in Heaven often.
I promise to love your whole family and keep them close.
I promise to love you with my actions, with my choices, with my words and with my time until we meet again one day.
You are my love, today and always.
I will love you with all my heart and with all my soul forever.
Click HERE to watch Chris’ Memorial Video put together by his brother! <3