Reflections at 17 Years

I want to be clear: I don’t want have a seventeenth anniversary of my son’s death.  I would rather have him alive to hug and celebrate on all the normal life celebrations.

However, the cruel truth is: Christopher Robin Hotchkiss was murdered on March 21, 1996.  I have learned a lot along this journey.  I have learned for one thing that grief is hard however the loss comes.  A person does not need to die to be grieved.  People come and go throughout our life and we grieve those lost relationships.  That kind of loss is very different than having a son murdered, but, also hard.  I have also learned that we also all grieve individually; no two people grieve the same way.

After 17 years, Christopher’s death has become a part of my life.  I am used to it – comfortable with it inside me.  The story no longer evokes horrendous sobs with multi-Kleenex rescues.  It is actually harder for other people to hear the story for the first time than for me to tell it now, because I have lived with it for all these years.

I meet people who are not even aware that this happened to our life.  At some point I say, “You may not know this about me but, my son, Christopher was murdered before we met.”  They are usually stunned and I need to let them know that I am very comfortable talking about Christopher’s murder if they wish.

I actually feel a strong obligation to tell my story. Christopher was murdered by his school roommate and I want parents to know about this.  It never crossed my mind that he might be in danger when I was helping Christopher get settled for school.  I wish he could be the only one who died like this, but we all know that has not happened.  Christopher’s death is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Occasionally people Google my name and find my website.  A few actually acknowledge that they are very sorry that I lost my son.  I am sure there are others who don’t bring the loss up because grief is a difficult subject to talk about.

I feel very comfortable talking about grief and all its parts.  I want to help people cope and feel hopeful.  I never thought my life would lead me here, but it has. I have embraced the  journey and life lessons and want help people however I can.

This anniversary of seventeen years for Christopher is also the first year of my sister, Michele’s, passing.  Michele and Christopher now share this day, which actually makes me happy!  My sister, Michele, was taken by lung cancer on the same day Christopher was murdered. The timing gives me goose bumps.  I wrote an article about this last year if you wish to know more.

On March 21, we will be celebrating both their lives–not how they died.  The family will be all together and we will cook some of Christopher and Michele’s favorite foods, tell funny stories and send them a bunch of love.

Christopher’s short life is so much more than how he died.  I am tired of murder.

It is time to celebrate Christopher and Michele along with many other loved ones.



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9 Responses to Reflections at 17 Years

  1. Radha, I’ll keep you and your family, as well as Christopher and Michelle, in my heart this week, as always. Thank you for all the blessings you give us in Christopher’s, and now, Michelle’s, names.
    Many hugs to you,

  2. Kim Sarnecki says:

    Thank you so much for speaking and writing about grief Radha. I will think of you celebrating on March 21 and raise a glass with you, Christopher and Michele in mind and heart.
    All my best –

  3. kathy MIner says:

    I think of you every year in March. I remember it so well when you told
    me the story days after it happened. I put the phone down and cried as if
    it were my family. I didn’t know Christopher nor did I really know you. It just
    struck me as so tragic wondering how anyone ever got through something
    like that. You are a inspiration. You got through it by giving.

    I miss our occasional lunches and would love to see you soon. I am semi
    retired and would love to catch up.

    Love, prayers and smiles to you.

    Your friend,


  4. Sandor Burstein says:

    Our hearts are with you.


    Beth & Sandor

  5. Georgia Alioto says:

    I just can not believe Christopher has been gone 17 years. Everything is so fresh in my mind. Thinking of you on this day and I too wish he was here to celebrate life as a living person. Thinking of you and your family. Hugs and more hugs to you Georgia

  6. Jill says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.


  7. Pat Aiello says:

    Radha, Someone told me it’s not the anniversary of their death, it’s an Angel Birthday, so it’s your son’s 17th Angel Birthday. My son will be coming up on his 1st Angel Birthday in May. I too, lost both my sister & son. Anyway, that’s how I want to look at it.

    • Christiana says:

      / Hello my friend! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and include aprplximateoy all vital infos. I would like to see more posts like this.

  8. Carrol Chrys says:

    As always I felt encouraged by your writing. It is a bit overwhelming to face grief but I agree there are other sadnesses but murder is of course the most difficult, I would imagine, to have to face. thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Carrol Chrys

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