Christopher Joel Pereida
I truly consider Christopher Joel (and Marci Kay) my two most precious gifts from God. Between 1978 and October 1979 we lost 4 babies…my first pregnancy was with twins. (I found out many years later that it was nothing short of a miracle that I conceived, much less carried full term, any children at all. I had Endometriosis so bad that the doctors said it should have been impossible for me to conceive). When we found out that I was pregnant again in December 1979 (with Christopher) we were anxious, but elated!!!
I checked into the hospital on August 29, 1980…with the beginning of labor pains. Due to complications with my body, I was in labor for 72 hours with Christopher. He repeatedly banged his little head up against my pelvic bone those 72 hours…I don’t know who was more excited for him to be born; me or him! Nonetheless he was born at 4:23 p.m. on August 31, 1980. He was the first grandchild to be born on both sides of the family….and there were 27 people there anxiously awaiting his arrival. He was a beautiful baby boy; 8 lbs, 20 ½ inches long….and all legs and feet. I thanked God, and continue to do so every day of my life, for allowing me the honor of being Christopher Joel Pereida’s mother; if only for his short 20 years of life on this earth.
When Christopher was 3 months old, I found out that I was once again pregnant (with his sister Marci Kay). On July 27, 1981 (3 days shy of 11 months after the birth of Christopher) Marci was born at 4:32 a.m. She is the second grandchild on both sides of the family. My second miracle baby and gift from God!
Both of my children had what I consider a relatively happy normal childhood. I think that the first real trauma that Christopher suffered was when his dad and I divorced in 1986; Chris was 5 ½ & Marci 4 ½. In later years Marci learned that it is better to be out of a relationship that you are not happy being in. However, Christopher never accepted the fact that his dad and I were not together. He wanted us to be happy and to remarry….but to each other and no one else! He knew that his dad always said “Your mother is the love of my life, she will always own my heart and I will always love her….whether we are together or not”. Even in later years, and I believe right up to the second he took his last breath, Chris just couldn’t accept the fact that his dad and I had other people in our lives that we loved.
Chris was always a very bright smart child. He excelled in everything he did. In his 7th grade year he attended a school for the gifted. He had a photogenic memory. He simply paid attention in class, took his tests, got his 100’s and went on. I don’t remember him ever bringing homework home. Learning just came easy to him. He maintained a 4.0 GPA until his Senior year in High School…and I think he just got bored with school that year.
When Christopher was about 14 he started to get pretty rebellious. After several months of this “attitude” I decided that maybe it would be best for him to live with dad for a while….maybe he just needed his dad in his life more after living with mom for 9 years. I know it broke his heart that I felt he needed to move away from me; but at the time I felt it was the right thing to do. I will never know if things would have turned out differently, but I do berate myself sometimes for forcing him to move away from me. Not because it was with his dad….just because I feel that maybe if I had not “pushed him back to the little town where his dad and I grew up, knowing how it is there” that maybe he wouldn’t have been “labeled” and wouldn’t have had to endure “being that strong icon and leaning shoulder for all his friends” because he was “Chris Pereida….Mr. Cool”.
He got into a little trouble there, but nothing that he couldn’t overcome and learn from. It is just that he was “that Pereida kid” from day one when he moved there. (“You know his mom and dad were always wild, so of course he will be just like them!”). Chris was very tender hearted by nature and I think that being met with that sort of “stigma” there just made him “have to be the tough guy” regardless. He felt he had no choice but to defend himself and be CHRIS PEREIDA whether anyone liked it or not. Tough on the outside….but hurting on the inside. BUT, he had a lot of support there: my mother and daddy, Joel’s mother and daddy, 9 aunts and uncles, and lots of cousins all in that same town. He knew he was loved and protected to the best of their ability and that gave him some confidence.
In February of 1995 Marci decided that she missed her brother desperately and wanted to go live with him and her dad also. I always maintained that my children had the option to go live with dad when they felt that was the right choice for them….so she moved in with them also.
Chris was always busy working on something. For one he was an awesome freehand artist. He also took my old bicycle, and with the help of his Grandpa Les and others, he made his prize lowrider bike. He won several trophies on his bike, displaying it in several lowrider bike contests. His Grandpa Les & Grandma TaJuhanna and his daddy went in halves and bought him a 1964 Impala that he spent lots of time working on also. In his Junior year of High School his dad bought him a black 1995 Trans Am…and that was “his baby”. Chris was also a big “computer guru”; he spent countless hours making programs, graphics and chatting with the many friends he made on the Internet. I found out after his death that he was known as “elite” on the Internet….and he befriended more people than I know about I am sure. Christopher was known on the Internet as KingWs6 (Ws6 is a high performance package motor for his Trans Am); hence my screen name of KingWs6MOM and his little sister’s screen name of KingWs6SIS.
The second major trauma I feel that Christopher had to deal with in his life was the death of my daddy. In March of 1996, as Chris and Marci were leaving school for the day, they learned that my daddy had suffered a massive heart attack and was being taken to the local hospital. I was here in Lubbock and 45 minutes from them…..I stayed here awaiting his transfer by AeroCare. As I was waiting for the call that they were enroute, my mother, my son, and my daughter watched as the EMT’s worked relentlessly trying to save my daddy….but he was beyond being saved; and they were there as he took his last breath, helpless to change God’s plan. My daddy’s death is something that Christopher never recovered from. It was the first death he had ever had to deal with, and it was the death of a man who was his idol, his confidant, and his best friend. He suffered tremendously. It was simply incomprehensible to him that his Grandpa could be gone! . He also felt helpless when I myself attempted suicide 4 months after my daddy died. The death of my daddy, a man whom we all felt was somehow above human nature and its inevitable happenings, devastated us all beyond words.
Christopher fell head over heels in love with Karri while in High School. They were both young and had their own problems. Her parents (for their own reasons) didn’t approve of their relationship. Their relationship was off and on for a long time. Eventually she moved on….but Chris’ heart belonged to her until the day he died. She was “the love of his life” and he just couldn’t deal with the fact that she had moved on and left him behind. I believe this was the third major trauma that Christopher suffered in his short life….and one he never got over. His heart stayed with her always!!!
Another one of God’s miracles happened to us on June 10, 1997. Marci gave birth to our first grandson (Jacob Leslie). Jacob was just the light of Christopher’s life. He thought that little Jake (da dup as he called him) hung the moon and stars above. And little Jacob thought that his Uncle Chris was “da man” too. At that point Chris, Marci, and Jacob were all living with Joel; so in those six months Jacob and Chris grew extremely close. Jacob meant the world to Christopher and the feeling was obviously a mutual one.
Christopher graduated from High School in May of 1998. In July of 1998 he had to have major back surgery. His plans to begin college in the fall of 1998 had to be put off, for his recovery. In 1999 Chris, Marci, Jacob and Joel moved back to Lubbock. Later that year he got a job as an AT&T Wireless Communications representative. He was awesome at what he did there. He won a lot of contest at his job for outstanding call-taker and for the number of calls that he handled per month. He really seemed to enjoy his job a lot. He continued to look forward to beginning college in the future. He wanted to become a Cardiologist but his back would not take the hours required to do heart surgery. His doctor told him though that since he loved kids so much, he could go for Pediatrics; which is what he had decided that he would do.
Early in 2000 Chris’ dad decided to move to another town to be with his girlfriend. At that point Marci moved out on her own also. Chris’ options were to have 3 people move in with him in the house they were at, and split the bills 4 ways; or find another cheaper place to live. Chris’ ultimate decision was to go on the road with his dad for awhile hauling cars. I will add that during the previous months I had heard a rumor that Chris was into selling drugs, and had confronted him about it. He was crushed that Mom though this and for months he refused to even speak to me. (I was crushed, but we had no contact on Mothers Day, none on my birthday in June, he did not come to visit me in the hospital the first part of August when I had major back surgery due to a broken lumbar…..but I talked to him a few times on the phone during those months. I forgave all these things because above and beyond all….he was my baby boy and I just knew in my heart he would get his life straightened up and make a fine young man). His dad told him at that time that we were only trying to do what we though was right as parents; that if he had a drug problem or whatever problems he might have, we only wanted to help him through it. I believe that Chris’ decision to go on the road with his dad was ultimately made to try and “break away from some of the people he was running with”. Life on the road was not really what Chris wanted, so a few months after this he moved in with my mother until he could get settled, get a job and start college.
On August 21, 2000 Chris enrolled in a Junior College and set up his classes to begin courses needed to move towards medical school. He began classes on Monday August 28, 2000. He was ecstatic about finally beginning college…his life long dream to become a doctor was taking shape right before his eyes! On Wednesday 30, 2000, after leaving classes for the day, he and another guy were stopped by Law Enforcement Officials. They were both arrested for Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Chris for DUI. (After Chris’ death we found out that he took the rap for the drugs….even though they were not his. The guy that was with him had two pending charges already, and a third would have meant a felony for him; automatic penitentiary sentence. Chris knew too much about the drug dealings of this guy….in too deep to just walk away.It was a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t situation”. If he didn’t take the rap for the drugs, the drug dealers would get him. And if he did take the rap, he felt his future as a Doctor of Pediatrics was out the window. I guess he felt that rather than watch over his shoulder the rest of his life for the drug dealers to get him, he would just take the rap for the drugs. Even the trooper who took them in KNEW the drugs were not Chris’, and told us so….there was just nothing he could do to make Chris tell him differently). I spent that entire afternoon making arrangement (along with his dad) to get him out of jail and get his car out of impoundment….and try to get HIM back on track for college the next day. I know that the entire time Chris spent in jail (from about 1:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. that day) he felt that he had screwed up beyond any repair and that his life was for nothing. He had money due for college, a car payment due in just a few days, and then, because of his arrest, there would be fines, lawyers fees, reporting to a probation officer weekly, money to be paid to the bail bondsman…and I truly feel that he felt the arrest for drugs in itself had ruined his future as a doctor. Chris called me about 9:30 p.m. that night, asking why his dad had not gotten there to get him out yet.
I talked to him for a while, told him that his dad should be there in just a few minutes, and then as we hung up, we said “goodbye”. The second I hung up the phone it hit me like a ton of bricks….that is the FIRST time I had ever told either one of my children “goodbye” rather and “I love you”. No matter if we were mad at each other or not, I ALWAYS said “I love you” to them when we hung up or parted. I can’t explain the “eerie feeling” that consumed my mind because of that “last conversation with my baby boy”….and it was a feeling that never left me throughout the night, up until the next morning, and to this day! But I found some comfort in the fact that the next day was his 20th birthday, and that when I saw him and gave him his birthday present, I would make amends and let him know just how very much I loved him. In my mind I thought to myself “It is time to end this stand off between us. I love my son dearly and I know he loves me too. I just have to let him know that these last few months without hearing his voice and seeing him is just too much. We have to mend this rift and get back to the way we have always and forever been….mother and son that love each other no matter what”. I also wanted him to know that we have all made mistakes in our lives; that is just part of human nature. I wanted him to understand that nothing that had happened the previous day would stop him from going on with college and making all of his dreams come true. (It breaks my heart that I never got to have that conversation with my baby boy. It will also haunt me until the day I draw my last breath that in my very last conversation with him, I didn’t tell him how very much I loved him and the fact that my love was always and forever unconditional throughout eternity).
At 3:00 am, August 31, 2000, Marci called me. She said that her dad and Chris had argued since they picked Chris up from the jail. Joel told me that as he and Chris walked out of the jail he said “Everything is just screwed up”. His dad told him that “nothing that had happened was THAT bad and that we would get past it”. Chris stopped talking pretty soon after that point. He told Marci that “If he did not go to college the next day, that was it!”. He later told her that “He was NOT going to go to college….screw it all”. Marci said that her dad maintained his cool throughout the entire deal. He told Chris that he was going to take his car and get it repaired so that he would have a good ride to and from school. Chris took this as “Ok, I was arrested and now my dad is taking my car away from me”. They had a verbal argument over the car and Chris told him he could just keep the car.
Marci said that pretty much from the point when they picked him up from jail, he was “distant”. He just laid on the ground and stared at the sky….not answering anyone about anything at all. He would not accept any calls from his friends either. Right after the argument over his car, he walked away from Marci’s duplex. This was around midnight on August 31, 2000. When she called me at 3:00 a.m. she had been walking up and down the block for 3 hours. (At this point Marci was over 8 months pregnant and SO emotional over all of this….she and Chris were just like twins). I told her to call me the second she heard from Chris. She thought that maybe, since he always had called mom when things were bad, he would come to my house….or at least call me. (Later I think that he probably didn’t because he knew I had just gotten out of the hospital from back surgery and he knew from experience that I couldn’t even drive if I had a car….but my heart tells me that he just didn’t call mom or anyone else for that matter because he had simply given up on life). I believe that this was all the “final trauma” in my precious son’s short life. I think Chris felt that his world had all came crashing down around him and that there was absolutely NO WAY to right the wrongs!
At 8:17 a.m, 08-31-2000, there was a loud frantic pounding on my front door. I will never ever forget the sound of that pounding…..and the urgency that came with it. I looked out my window and saw two unmarked units and a marked police car in front of my house. My first thought was that Chris had “blown up and attacked someone” and came running to my house; and then fled from the police. I called Marci and told her to get ahold of her dad ASAP and get him started my way…..because something was bad wrong! I opened the door and there stood two detectives and one uniformed officer. They were aware that I was ill and having a hard time getting around, so they were very patient and understanding with me. I just kept saying, “Chris has done something hasn’t he? Oh dear God, what is wrong….please tell me! My son has done something terrible hasn’t he”. They asked me when the last time I had talked to Chris had been and asked if I was alone. Finally, one of the detectives told me “Ma’am, there is just no easy way to tell you this….your son has killed himself”. WHAM…..at that instant life as I knew it was gone! I asked how it had happened….and the detective said “he hung himself”. As I later learned, the tree where he took his own life was in the next block down from where his little sister lived.
Okay, so I fought with all my might to give my son life 20 years ago today….and in the blink of an eye, that life is gone! As I put the pieces together of that awful morning, it came out that he had walked away from Marci’s duplex, to the next block where there was a tree in a parking lot. He sat on the curb, in the dark under that tree from around midnight until 6:14 a.m. I know that he had to see his little sister walking by, over and over and over that night. He saw his dad drive away hauling his car also. He had three close friends that lived within 3 blocks of where he was at also. There was a pay phone just across the street where he could have called me, or anyone for that matter. But instead of contacting anyone at all, he sat on that curb, tying 2-3 inch pieces of rope from that tree together, until he had enough rope to hang himself with. The autopsy revealed that he hung himself at 6:15 a.m., time of death was 6:24 a.m., and a lady who was warming up her car to go to work (where the tree was half in her back yard and half in the parking lot) saw him and ran to call the police. This precious woman stayed there with my son until the cops arrived. I pray for her daily, because I know she has suffered from this also.
So, on my precious baby boy’s 20th birthday I went to my hometown and made his funeral arrangements. Instead of seeing his precious face and that beautiful smile and giving him his birthday present that day, I bought a casket piece of red flowers for him! My heart was shattered into a million pieces….how could this be??? We got to view his body for the first time on September 1, 2000….just 6 hours away from his funeral. I could never put into words the feelings that ran through my broken body when I saw my angel in that coffin. My life as I knew it ended on August 31, 2000. I am not the same person that I was prior to that date….nor will I ever be. My broken heart continues to beat….for reasons that are beyond my comprehension.
There were 100’s of kids lined up, waiting for us to view the body first so that they could go in and pay their respects to Chris….their buddy, an icon in their eyes, a friends whom was gone from them forever. The church was packed with young people of whom Chris had befriended and loved. He was someone special to these young people, their leaning post, their confidant….but little did they know, that under that hard shell was a broken hearted young man that had no one to turn to when he himself desperately needed someone to confide in. God above only knows how many times he himself needed someone to just listen to him, someone that HE could lean on and talk things out with. I believe though, in Chris’ head, he just couldn’t let his guard down to do that. Letting others know that he himself hurt and was in need “just wasn’t cool”. How I wish that he had at least confided in me, his dad, or his sister. That is something that cannot be changed though; we all knew that Chris always kept things inside of him!
On September 16, 2000 Christopher’s second nephew, Brian Christopher, was born. My heart breaks to know that my second grandson will never know the awesome love of his Uncle Chris the way little Jacob did.
Christopher, I pray for you daily my precious son! I know that you are in Heaven, walking the streets of gold with your Grandpa Les now. You are free from the worldly pains and heartache that you lived with here on earth. We miss you desperately; life is just not the same without you here with us. Until I see your precious face once again, please always know that your mom loves you unconditionally and that you will live FOREVER in my heart!!!
Mom to Christopher Joel Pereida….My KingWs6 FOREVER!
08/31/80 – 08/31/00