Christine Hanes does not compare her life now to the one she had on Manchester with a full house with her husband and three kids as that would increase the ache in her heart.
Rather, she lives for today, for her family, her job, her church and the new home she found after her son and husband died in the same year.
She said that she has been on a “journey” for the last four years. While it’s been anchored by enormous grief, including the death of one of her daughters and her mother, her journey has also withness days of great joy and personal satisfaction, all of it holding on a foundation of faith.
She doesn’t tell her story usually as she doesn’t want people to feel sad for her.
“I do not want to be remembered as the woman who lost her husband and her son and her daughter,” Chris stated. “I desire to be an inspiration.”
Ryland Harpster’s blonde hair falls around his tiny face as he sees a movie in his grandmother’s living room. He plays with his toys and occasionally walks to his “Mimi,” just a few feet away to request for something to eat or to fix a toy.
“He melts my heart,” stated Chris of her youngest grandchild, the only son of her daughter Alysia, who died in April.
Chris’ home is a suitable three-bedroom house in Mount Wolf. Pictures of her family cover the walls along with quotes about faith and family.
She had spent years being a caregiver in a house retrofitted to support her paralyzed son and her husband, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. When they died, she desired to get out of that home – too big, too much for her.
This house reveals the new life she has developed in the wake of her losses.
Chris joined a grief support group two years after her son and husband died. She now supports to lead the GriefShare group at St. John Lutheran Church, where she serves part-time as a ministry assistant. Nearly a year ago she retired from Northeastern.
Chris stated that “I feel for people who do not have the support. I do not understand how they do it without the support and without faith.”
Chris’ daughter, Michelle Overmiller, husband Dan, and children Addison, 5-year-old, and Emily, 2-year-old, along with Ryland and his dad are a foundation to Chris’ new life and her new home.
“There are still mornings I wake up and the pain is severe,” Chris stated. “I still have my times when I cry as I miss Lee or Matthew or Alysia or look at (Ryland) and know he will never know her. Or see my dad, after 60-plus years of marriage and be by himself.
“It is God’s story, and he is writing it. The people he places in that story are a gift to us and not ours to keep. I am thankful for the years I had with each and every one of them because some people do not even have that.”