The first time that I met CJ (when you guys were actually admitting to liking and dating each other) was when we met up for lunch at Chef’s table. I was happy that even though we were in town for a short time I was going to get to see you, and even more excited that you wanted to bring a boy! You Miller girls are always so private about those types of things, so I knew that you must really like this guy to bring him around. Kyle and I were impressed with him from the start. I don’t remember everything we talked about that day, except that I learned that he was a local and grew up in Provo, that he liked BYU, that he was athletic and liked sports. I remember thinking that he was a nice, normal guy; that he was confident and funny and witty and smart. I remember leaving really excited and happy and hoping that he was it for you. I knew that if you married him, you’d love him like I love Kyle. That we would travel together, the boys would golf, we’d lay out in the sun, we’d all definitely eat good food.
I remember sitting on your couch one day, talking BYU sports with Kyle and CJ. He was talking about how BYU fans were crazy most of the time, and we agreed! And then as if I needed to prove it, I started saying that at least when BYU does well in sports (talking about BYU versus U of Utah), it was a missionary tool because people associate BYU with Mormons, but not so much U of U with Mormons. Haha He totally didn’t agree, and I could feel myself getting frustrated with MY own lack of being able to communicate what I was really trying to say. So I tried to drop it by leaving the conversation/room, which only made it more embarrassing because it seemed like I was storming off and mad. So embarrassing. I was slightly devastated because I thought he was so cool and I liked him so much and I didn’t want him to think I was a crazy person who was trying to argue with him! I just wanted to be bffs! Haha
Imagine my relief when we got together next and he was just so kind to me and treated me so nice. I was so relieved that he didn’t hold it against me and I felt like we were instant friends. And instant family. I was so grateful.
Both of us being inlaws to the Miller family, I really felt some solidarity with him when it came to traditions and holidays. I loved that when Thanksgiving came around and I was still talking about how weird it was that the Millers don’t do rolls for Thanksgiving- he TOTALLY got it and agreed with me! He was the one that encouraged me to bring my own traditions and start MAKING ROLLS for Thanksgiving- they were one of his favorite parts too. And then on Christmas eve when I was being a little fanatical about us having to do the nativity before the kids went to bed, CJ was the one person who got it. I remember he said after our makeshift nativity that he was glad that we did that because it actually made the night feel like Christmas eve. And even though I knew I was being stubborn by insisting on the nativity, I loved him for that comment and that it meant something to him too.
I loved driving around that night, just us grownups, before the nativity. When I think of that night I think of all of us stuffed in a little car, in a drive through, laughing our heads off as I told Siri “I WANT PIZZA!!!” (Or some other food...I can’t remember exactly.) All I know is I just told siri I wanted it and she gave me directions and we all were laughing that it worked, since it was pretty beasty.
CJ made all of our family outings even more fun and festive. I remember being on his team in volleyball, late one night during Thanksgiving break. The game was close, and we circled up for a team meeting. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I really want to win” and in equal intensity he looked at me and said, “I know you do. I want to too!!” We were all like “let’s do this!” haha It was an intense game and I think in the end we won that one! I also think about playing tennis against him down in Palm springs. We all sucked compared to him, but even so, he stopped to give me tips on how to hold my racket so that I could play better. I remember noticing specifically how kind and patient he was with all of us Miller girls, really wanting to help us improve our own games and probably amp up our games against him to give him a little better competition. J
I really admired how confident and self-assured he was. If all the Millers were just hanging out at the house and he wanted to go do something, he wasn’t waiting for permission or approval of everyone to go. He did what he wanted, even though he was new to our family. And I seriously loved it. It made me feel less pressure, like if something didn’t work for me, I didn’t have to do it! You know? Does that even make sense? I remember when you guys decided to stay in Palm Desert (even though we were all leaving and that meant we were going to celebrate New Year’s together without the two of you), we all laughed, and I remember saying to Kyle, “I love that even though he’s new to the family, he doesn’t feel pressure to come with all of us. They want to stay so they are staying! I didn’t know we could do that! I’m going to start doing that!”
I feel a little gipped, living so far away, having so little time with CJ. I am beyond grateful for our crazy Thanksgiving break, staying up until 1 am every night, playing volleyball, eating maple bars. At the time I was trying to say goodbye to my 20’s with gusto, and now when I think about it I’m just so grateful for my midlife crisis because that short time together was packed to the gills with so much fun.
And I feel the same way about our Christmas break. I’m so grateful for every minute of that trip; all of the times we all laughed together. I think about our sledding trip, and how CJ found those discarded sleds that really made the day fun. The tennis, the swimming, going out to Babe’s. It was such a fun trip. I loved seeing you so happy. I loved that CJ was a part of our family. I thought he fit in so well and I was so happy to see you in such a loving and happy relationship. It was obvious that you two were such a great match.
I know that most of the family ate dinner with CJ at Café Rio on Feb. 13th. Ironically, the last time I saw CJ was also at Café Rio. I had decided last minute to stay an extra week in Vista after Christmas while Kyle flew home to work. One of the last days I was there, we drove the 45 minutes up to Café Rio so that we could all meet up one more time before I left. I remember specifically being grateful that CJ was able to join us, and he introduced me to a new side dish- some bean dip dish- chile con queso maybe? I thought it was pretty hilarious, because, you know, we are all a little beasty. J CJ embraced that side of you and the rest of us.
Keri, I’m so sorry that he isn’t here with us anymore. I’ve been thinking about him so much lately. About our time spent together and about the devastation of the accident last year. I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve had to endure. I just want you to know that not a day goes by where Kyle and I aren’t praying for you. You are included in ALL of our family and personal prayers. I know you know that already. I wish I could take your pain away. I know that the only thing that brings me peace is my knowledge of the plan of salvation and eternal families, and I hope for you moments and stretches of that same peace. I think you are amazing and so special, and I know that Heavenly Father and your CJ are so proud of you and love you so much. We all do.