Unlike what other family and friends who love and know CJ have wrote, I have not tried to write this over and over. I have done the exact opposite by purposefully ignoring the idea of this for a long time. I have not sat at the computer for days on end trying to figure out the perfect way to write down everything I cherish so much about my brother CJ. I feel childish and stupid for doing this, but I was scared. Scared to remember, scared to cry, scared it wont help, scared to make my sister cry, and scared especially because it makes this awful tragedy all too real again. I still don’t want to accept its real. I still don’t want to hear my sister cry. But I need to write this, for one I told my sister I would and I need to stop being a terrible brother, and two because I really want everyone to know how much I love my sister Keri and her amazing husband CJ. I love you both so much!
As I have internalized everything starting from the accident one year ago I remember and feel a lot of things. The first and most overwhelming feeling is sad; I Miss CJ! Everyday! I miss Keri and CJ together! The way they smiled at each other, the way CJ laughed at my sisters insanity, the way he would say “that a babe” about every burp or tiny accomplishment Keri would flaunt, the way he openly loved my sister. I miss it all! I miss it because I looked up to it. Being the youngest I have always looked up to my sisters and my brother. They have all been so important in my life and I love them all so much. Keri and CJ was different for me though because unlike the older siblings marriages, their relationship started and developed when I was old enough to understand and appreciate it. Their relationship is the blue print for me of what the perfect couple is and what it should always be, and I want to have that! Everytime I saw them together I was envious of what they had. It was never the toys or clothes they had, (although CJ did have great taste in clothes and shoes and loved to dress fancy and loved to spoil keri in the same way) it was always the laugh they shared that I wanted. They both laughed and had so much fun together all the time. One of my favorite times with them was when we got to play tennis together. I don’t want to brag but me Keri and CJ were clearly the best three in the family when it came to tennis. We three all secretly agreed on this fact but never told the others. I remember one specific time when it was just us three playing tennis and we played this game they made up called points. Id like to say my favorite part was winning, but the thing I remember most is the crazy insane laugh both of them had when they played each other. It always started with Keri trying to hit it super hard back at CJ, and CJ returning it just as hard back at her. The hits would get progressively harder and louder. Then as the rally would continue they both would start to have a crazy/evil laugh filled with excitement and hint of nervous. Neither one of them wanted to lose and both were afraid to be the one to mess up. I miss that laugh, but I will always remember it. Even when they tried to fight over something they laughed together. I can remember another time when I went shopping with Keri, and she decided to buy a new IPAD case because she didn’t like the one they already had. She was so excited to show CJ her new purchase and was the first thing she showed him when she walked in the door. CJ started out rationally by explaining they didn’t need it and at the same time argued that the case they had already was better than the one she just bought. Keri argued that the ipad would fall out and her new better case would hold it in. As the playful bickering continued it once again turned into crazy insane laughing at each other, and ended with CJ winning and Keri jumping on him. They laughed even when they disagreed. I cannot remember one time where they both didn’t laugh and smile at or with each other. I will always smile and have great joy when I remember Keri and CJ, especially their crazy, insane, sometimes slightly evil, and always loving laugh. I will always strive to find that laugh with someone so I can be as happy as them. But I am still sad today, sad because I miss CJ and sad for my sister Keri.
The second emotion I feel as I think back is enormous gratitude. I am so grateful for everything CJ has done for my sister Keri, my family, and me. This is a tough one for me to put down because I feel my words will not really show how truly grateful I am that CJ married my sister Keri and that I can call him by brother. First I’m grateful because he married my weird one of a kind sister. They were soul mates from the beginning. They lived in a weird world together off on their own and they both loved it so much. Not only did he marry her though, he made her happier than any other person in the world. I could see it in her smile. My sister has always been the unsaid spoiled child in our family, and when she married CJ the spoiling continued and grew. He did anything and everything for Keri and did it all with a smile. I don’t think anything made him happier than the act and process of making Keri happy. I used to always say that Keri was living in a fantasy bubble because she got whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. I loved skyping my sister and hearing about her daily problems consisting of what show to watch on Netflix next or how she was worried because her and CJ would eat out every meal. It was funny because even her problems couldn’t hide that she was so happy all the time. I loved seeing her smile and laugh when we skyped. I also loved how I don’t think I ever once talked to CJ over skype, and that’s because he was always in the background studying and working hard. I am so grateful for his hard work. No matter what the job was, CJ worked harder and studied harder than anyone I knew so he could be the best. I don’t know much about his job, partly because I never really understood the conversations we had about it because he was way to smart for me, but I do know that CJ was the best. I am so grateful that he worked so hard to be the best man he could be, because my sister Keri deserves the best. I am also so eternally grateful for the impact CJ has had in my life. He has been the best role model I could ever have. He has shown me how to work hard, how to play harder, and most importantly how to live the gospel. A year ago when the accident happened, I was not going to church. I never really thought about being mormon for the rest of my life even though I had grown up in the church. I didn’t really care about it. I did know that CJ loved living the gospel everyday, and although I didn’t think about it at the time, I took notice of his true love for the gospel. The days following the accident were the worst days of my life, but amongst the tragedy my heart was softened and open to the feelings of the spirit. In the following weeks I poured my heart out in prayer to my heavenly father asking for guidance. I know without a doubt CJ touched my heart in those moments of prayer. And in those moments I knew that CJ lives once again with Jesus Christ. I knew that CJ wanted me to be better than I was, and I knew that CJ loved me enough to push me to become the person I am today. Today I am preparing to go on a mission to Milan Italy! I wish I could share this excitement with him, I know he is so happy for me. Through CJs amazing example of his life here on earth I know how to live the gospel. I will live the gospel for the rest of my life. I am so eternally grateful for CJ. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of eternal families. I love my brother CJ so much and look forward to the day when I get to be side by side with him once again, living and loving the gospel together.
The last thing I feel and remember about CJ is love. I love CJ. I love my family. I love my sister Keri. CJ too shared these common loves with me. I want to explain why I feel love is so important when I remember CJ through a couple stories. The first reminds me how much CJ loves his family. I was with my family visiting Keri for her graduation. After the graduation CJ invited us over to his moms house. The first thing I remember was that as soon as we walked in CJ hugged his mom. He loves his mom with all his heart. It was clear to me as im sure it was to everyone else that CJ has an amazing ability to love, especially his family. The next thing I remember is how instantly the get together became a sports competition. CJ was the ring leader and got everyone, from the smallest nephew to the oldest brother, and started a basketball game. CJ tried hard, as he did with everything, to win, but even more impressive was how excited he got for when anyone else scored. If anyone else got anywhere close to doing something impressive CJ would show his excitement for you. He has an amazing ability to make those around him feel so loved by him, and I think the reason is because he earnestly loved each and every family member with all his heart. I can still picture CJ picking up his little nephew Milo and running around with him after he scored a basket. The excitement and love he has for his family is beyond measurable. I miss seeing his love for others in person. I miss feeling his love towards me and my family. I know his love continues towards each of his family members everyday.
The last story of love is particularly special to me. Its not how I remember CJ loving me or my family, but how I will always remember him loving my sweet sister Keri. The one thing I loved immediately when I heard of CJ was that he was an avid golfer. I love golf and I was so excited to have a new friend to play with. I was also kind of nervous because I had heard rumors that CJ was really good, like really good. So knowing this, the first time meeting CJ I wanted to play golf to see if the rumors were true. Being CJ he was already way ahead of me, within the first couple hours of meeting him CJ he had already set up a tee time for the following morning. So the next morning just me and CJ drove to the golf course together. When we got their he scrambled ahead of me quickly and paid for me golf before I even had a chance to. That’s just how CJ did things, he wanted everyone to be happy. So with high expectations and all we teed off the first hole. CJs very first drive was awful! Hit it way left and barely stayed in bounce. I didnt have a much better drive, but still I was not impressed so far, the legend of CJ was not so great. I also remember vividly chipping in on the first hole to make par while CJ struggled for Bogey. I remember that CJ was kinda frustrated and didn’t realize I chipped in, and thought it was funny because it wasn’t the usual way to start off a golf round. The next couple holes were both funny and awkward to me. Funny because CJ was continuing to play terrible. The first 5 holes he hooked his drive really bad left. I thought it was funny, but it was also kinda awkward because I didn’t know at the time, but CJ is extremely competitive. And when he doesn’t play how he wants to he gets extremely frustrated. After every tee shot he would scream with frustration and then walk to his ball practicing his swing because he could not figure it out. This continued until the 6th hole when upon arriving on the tee box his phone rang. I didn’t think he was gonna pick it up because he was still just so mad at himself and everything. Once he picked up his phone I immediately knew who it was. Now up to this point I was still not sure how much CJ really loved my sister, they weren’t married yet and he could just be some guy for all I knew. That all changed when he picked up the phone. “Hey babe” is all it took for CJ to change frustration around. I can still intensely picture the smile CJ had as he talked to my sister keri on the golf course that day. Im not sure what he talked about, I do know that he laughed at keri over the phone in the way only CJ could, he smiled more than he had all day while on the phone, and that he ended his phone call by saying I love you. In that moment I knew that CJ loved my sister more than anything else. Keri and only Keri is the one thing that could make CJ smile that way. I saw an angry, yelling, and frustrated CJ go from mad to smiling with one phone call. He loved Keri so much that even angry super competitive CJ couldn’t be mad at the sound of her voice. That is the first time I saw CJs love for my sister Keri. I will always keep that moment close to my heart. I am still amazed today, especially as I got to know CJ more, that he was able to love one person so much. I cherish the time I spent golfing with CJ, he beat me I think every time, but I still loved it. But more than that I admire his ability to love my sister as only he could. I know that CJ is Keris soul mate. I know that his love for her is deeper than I will ever know. And I also know that CJ today, just as he did on that golf course, smiles and loves keri more and more with each passing moment.
I am sad everyday that CJ passed away, it doesn’t seem fair. I am also grateful for his impact that he has had on my family and me personally. And more than anything I love CJ and will miss him dearly until we meet again.
So Keri and everyone else who loves CJ, be sad because we miss him just as he misses and is sad for us. Be grateful for the time we had with such an amazing friend, brother, son, and husband. And love everyone around you just as CJ did everyday of his life.
I love you. I miss you. I AM GOING ON A MISSION!!!! I know your just as exited for me as I am. And I know we will meet again.