September 16, 2011

In Memory of Chris Campbell

In Honor of Chris Campbell

Today’s post has nothing to do with being thrifty but I want to honor an old friend on his birthday. He would have been 37 years old. He was one of the Navy Seals that was recently killed in Afghanistan. My mom and I visited with his mom today and she was happy to read childhood memories I had of him.

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August 7, 2011

I sat quietly in an airport crying tears of grief for my friend.  Normally I might cower away from showing such a public display of expression.  This time it was warranted. Truthfully, it seemed an honor to grieve on his behalf.  He had given the ultimate sacrifice and I could not ashamed of my splotchy red face and eyes.

I was returning home from a convention which was filled with business related events and interactions with others.  Although I knew of his death the previous day, my mind finally had time to rest and it was soon flooded with thoughts and forgotten memories.

We were kids running together through the yard.  Our parents were talking and visiting.  We raced to pass time until it was time for him to go.  It was a hot summer evening and I pulled off my shoes to run.  “I can run faster without shoes” I told him and we raced.  The grass touched my bare feet as we ran to the tree across my yard. “One more time” we would say as we tried to be the next winner of the race.

We climbed a pile of gravel in my driveway.  My dad had some gravel delivered so that he could repair and fill the holes that had formed.  I think my mom fussed at us for climbing up the gravel.  Like me she was protective of her children and wanted to keep them from danger.

We traveled together to Hammock’s Beach, Bear Island.  His mom drove her station wagon with all of us in it.  I rode in the front seat in the middle.  The air conditioner blew my hair and my head ached from the cold.  His brother, my brother, and he were close to the same age. They had common interests and played well together.  Whenever we would go to the beach he would always make a trip to the snack bar.  His mom laughed and said that as long as he had money in his pocket he was going to eat.  Whenever we went to the beach the boys would play in the water and get pushed around by the waves.  The girls would walk the beach, talk, and look for shells.

When my friend came to visit me from Florida she thought he was cute. We invited him and his friend over for dinner.  My friend and I cooked dinner for them.  We served sparkling water in our attempt to act older and mature.  He and I looked at one another and exchanged frequent smiles as old friends would.  On our way to take them home we heard a kitten meowing in a ditch and we rescued my kitten from my crazy dog’s kidnapping attempts.

He was sitting beside me. We were teenagers and as many teens do we sat on the back row during church services.  We would exchange small chit chat before service started. We showed our prom pictures to one another.  He gave me a picture and I put it into my senior album which contained photos of friends.  We simply talked about things that are important to everyone of that age.

He was only one day older than me. That was another thing we had in common.  We always knew when the other person had a birthday.  Our moms were best friends and they both worked in the schools.  Our moms had summers free to spend with us and take us places so we spent a lot of time together.

I can visualize the pictures from birthday parties and other events over the years.  He was small for his age but always full of energy and life. He was known for being active in any kind of sport.

My heart swelled with pain and tightness as I thought of his parents. I could not imagine the grief that they felt. To lose a child is a parent’s worst nightmare.  It was easy to recall all of the times I had prayed for my children and for God to keep them safe from harm.  I could only pretend to know the pain they were experiencing.  I wept again, but this time it was for dear friends.

My mind returned to the phone conversations I had over the weekend with my dad.  I was comforted knowing there were church friends and family to visit them during such a difficult time.

Whenever the military were recognized during church services his dad always wore his uniform.  How proud of his son he must have been.  What an accomplishment it was for their son to be a part an elite group of Navy Seals.  When a child does something great such as making the dean’s list parents want to tell everyone. His parents probably didn’t have that privilege. Their son was performing secret missions that no one would ever know.

His mom served the military lunch after church that Sunday. What a servant’s heart she must have to give of herself only a day later.  Everyone would understand if she stayed at home that day.  Maybe it was her way of showing respect and honor to her son.  As the wife of a retired Marine she understood their lives. She knew the sacrifice required of the entire family.

A navy seal – I tried to envision what that must be like.  What kind of training must he have endured to become one? How does someone even begin to be chosen?

Regret fills my heart.  How did we drift apart and not keep in touch?  I struggle to remember the last time I saw him but then my mind is filled with wonderful memories.  It seems as though I haven’t seen him in forever and then it seems like it was just a few weeks ago.

He will forever be missed.  Lives are changed because of him.

May God be with his family, his friends, and his daughter.  May they be filled with the peace and comfort that only He can bring.  We praise God for our friend and the sacrifice he gave.

~Karen Buckhalter Weideman

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

In loving memory of Christopher George Campbell
September 16, 1974 – August 6, 2011


Karen

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