On September 11, 1993, I received word that my 14
year old cousin, Chris Marshall, lost his life in
Every year on the anniversary of that day his mom
and dad, my uncle Tim and his wife Dottie have relived
those sad events. When the World Trade Center was
decimated on September 11 2001, the sorrow became
Today I want to share a message Tim wrote to his
son, on the 5th anniversary of what most of us now know
Hours from now, around dusk, our hearts will
once again remember those moments 13 years ago
when we heard the news that you had been badly
injured and were on the way to the hospital.
Within an hour we heard the doctor say:
“Mr.and Mrs. Marshall, in spite of all our
efforts your son did not make it.”
I can still hear the screams in that tiny
waiting room at St. Thomas and the immediate
crying that filled the room. I felt so alone
at that moment and could not really process
what had happened. It truly seemed like a
However, the dream has lasted for 13 years
and I still don’t see you coming through
our door. I still visit your grave and tend
to it as I always have. I know you’re not
here any more and it hurts so much.
The big question that we humans have is: “Why?”
I struggled with that one for a long time until
I finally realized there are no answers here.
This earth is not the place where a massive
question like that can be fully addressed.
In the years that have passed I have watched
the frustrated actions of people who apparently
think this earth is all there is. They are in
a frenzy–whether its to get more stuff or
power than everyone else or to worship this
world itself under one banner or another.
I guess they’re scared, Chris.
All I know is that as these years have passed
I feel less and less attached to this world.
I feel I am blessed to live in the greatest
nation on earth and we have many nice things,
but that’s pretty horizontal. My gaze has
gone vertical more and more and I have learned
what you know: apart from Almighty God there is
no hope, but in Him there is all hope.
Five years ago today was the second worst
day of our lives as we watched in horror
as some sadistic butchers who worship a
false god killed 3000 people. Hate and evil
were revealed and this nation was shocked.
Our hearts were broken because we knew that
suddenly thousands of people felt the hurt
and loss we had known for 8 years.
It was a tearful day and I remember making
my visit to your grave at dusk that evening.
I cried more than I had ever cried before,
but I know I was feeling their grief along
with my own, What a sad and horrible day!
Since then there has been a panorama of
events and more attacks and more death.
I have felt the heaviness of praying for
the 9/11 families and for those of our
soldiers who have died since. I have also
prayed for your best friend-Michael Adkins-
who joined the Marines when he graduated
and is serving now in Kuwait repairing
I have been reminded that freedom is
never free. There is always a blood
sacrifice. It’s true for a nation-whether
we like it or not. It’s true for human
beings, too, and we cannot escape the
significance of the blood sacrifice of
Jesus Christ for all who will believe.
As my mind has processed all of this I
keep going back to August 28, 1986 when
during a service at church you nudged me
and said: “Dad, I want to accept Christ
tonight.” As we made our way to the altar,
Craig Fry-the youth pastor-said: “Well Dad
you know what to do,” and I knelt with you
as you received that wonderiful, free
gift of salvation for yourself.
That moment was revisited on the night
of Sept. 11, 1993 in the aftermath of
that horrible news that my youngest
child was dead. The feeling came over
me that you were watching all of us
for a while–then you were gone. Strange
to say but there was a peace that came
over me in that. I don’t understand it.
I just know it’s true.
Losing you changed our lives, just as
it did for those who lost loved ones
5 years ago. We feel a bit less at
home here now. We look for heaven a
little more. In the months before this
day we have had reminders of how
changeable everything is.
Since back in May we have been told
to expect Meemaw Stinson to join you,
She nearly has a few times and at age
98 she says she’s ready to leave. With
that backdrop I have been reading a book
“Ninety Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper.
It’s a most intriguing book. This man
was pronounced dead–no pulse, no
heartbeat–after a terrible wreck.
Ninety minutes later, as a friend of
his who felt impressed to get in that
mangled car and pray, he came back
to life. While he was gone he says
he went to heaven’s gates, which he
says cannot be described in human
language-nor can anything he saw,
and was greeted by many loved ones
and friends. He said he had never
felt so loved and welcomed ever before.
The thing that was so interesting
to me was that he said his loved
ones and friends looked just as
they did the last time he saw them.
He had no trouble recognizing them–
whether they were young or old. As
I thought about it, it made sense.
They have not yet received their
So, Chris, I know I won’t have
any problem in finding you when
I get there. I can’t wait for that
big hug and I know there won’t be
any time limit on it! I will finally
be home and it will be worth the wait.
I’ll leave behind those I love…but
they’ll be along one day too. There
won’t be any more sorrow, such as
we experienced on Aug. 15 when we
had to put little Molly-your dog-
We put her ashes with you, Chris.
It seemed only right. No, I’ll leave
all of that behind ro go to a place
where it’s never “Good-bye” it’s
always “Good Morning!”
For that and many reasons I could
never wish you to be back here.
Until then, we press on to achieve
the purpose for which God has us
here and now. I’m not sure when it
will be all over for me, but keep
watching and before long I’ll see
you at those Gates.
WIth all our love,
Dad, Mom, and Steve
I Thess. 4:16, 17