So Many Bridges To Cross

On the Fourth of July our family experienced a tragedy that will forever leave an emptiness in our home that will forever change every last one of us, the loss of Dana’s sixteen- year old son, Cross Justice Goodwin.  I do not wish to relate in great detail the ride in the back of the police car or the horrific two days in the hospital that followed. I would rather focus on the love and support we received from family and friends, and the celebration of Cross’s life as he was known by us and his friends.


In the weeks that followed Cross’s passing we were showered with love, support, and plenty of stories and memories of our loved one.  At 2 o’clock on July fifth Dana’s mother, two sisters Brittany and Ashley, and nieces Renny and Ally were at our door step after taking emergency flights out of Kentucky.  In the first few hours they were there, they did upkeep on the house while Dana drove herself back to MCR. They insisted that I get some rest while they took care of the rest.  Dana’s father, his wife Sharon, and Aunt Pam were soon to follow. I never thought Dana’s father would be able to make the trip to Colorado to see our home, yet there he sat in our kitchen, sharing memories and taking the grand tour of our home.  That weekend we had three more special arrivals, Dana’s sisters Kristi and Cara and her niece, Ainsley. We were lavished with fresh cooked meals every evening brought by our close friends. Their generosity continues to this day and we couldn’t express how thankful we are.


On Monday July 9th we had a small service for Cross at Allnutt Funeral Home.  I have never cried or heard so many tears as that mourning. Later that day Cross’s friend Matthew paid us a visit, one that was helpful and healing to Dana and me.  We learned about Cross through Matthew’s eyes and he learned about Cross through our eyes. It was amazing! Before Cross’s death we had barely spoken two words to most of his friends, and now we know many of them on a very personal level.


Slowly but surely the house began to empty as Dana’s family headed back to Kentucky and Ohio.  We wondered how it would be once everyone had gone and we were left with ourselves again. The first to arrive and the last to leave was Dana’s mother, Mary Borders, who stayed for nearly three weeks.  I remember many a mourning sitting with Mary, having coffee, talking mainly about Dana and Cross, and getting to know each other on a level that may have otherwise taken years to attain. By the end of her visit she told me that she knew I was a good guy.  This almost brought me to tears.


At long last came the evening of August fifth, where so many gathered at Fossil Creek Park for a candle light service to celebrate the life of Cross.  I would like to mention that this event could not have been what it was without the help of Three Hopeful Hearts, a local organization that specializes in grief and loss.  Kathi Gomez orchestrated the event and we are forever thankful to her.


Just before 7 Pm Dana, Bree, Jesse and I headed to the west pavilion at Fossil Creek Park where familiar faces were assembling.  Once we had a nice gathering I tried to lift spirits by providing music at the beginning of the service. I played three songs before the rain came.  The first was one that Cross had helped me write, and the last two were songs about gratitude, change and a brighter tomorrow.


When the rain stopped Kathi provided us with candles and we proceeded to the waterside near the pavilion.  A wireless microphone was passed around to anyone who wished to speak. Most of the speakers were Cross’s friends and peers, who gave several accounts of how Cross was the first person to talk to them in middle school, the first to listen, the first to lift spirits and bring smiles and hope.  I will never forget how Matthew broke into tears as he spoke that evening. “I wish Cross would say hi to me one more time, I wish we could go into his basement and play Fortnite one more time,” one more time, one more time. Another spoke of how he would miss the hard claps on the shoulder and the jabs in the ribs, and another remembered breakfast with Cross and friends every morning at McDonalds, where Cross would order two of everything.


After everyone had spoken, six of us, Dana, Bree, Jesse, Aunt Linda, Uncle Dan and I walked down to the lake and spread Cross’s ashes over the water.  Dana took the microphone and said that anyone who wished could come there to visit Cross at any time. Later that night at home, we felt lifted, encouraged and filled with love and peacefulness.


When Cross was fourteen years old his life changed drastically as a new man by the name of Brian Collins was introduced into his life.  He knew his mother loved this man but he was a very nostalgic soul and change never came easy. Soon this new man was there every night and often times the first face he would see when he walked in the house or upstairs from the basement.  There are a million ways Cross could have reacted, many of them not favorable. Cross chose with his own free will to shake this new man’s hand and welcome him permanently into the family. I will never forget the go-kart rides at Fort Fun, the countless evenings watching Lost or Last Man on Earth, playing Marco Polo in the swimming pool, or the intriguing conversations we had about physics and music.  He is a brave, strong, yet kind and gentle soul that will be forever treasured and missed.

Brian Collins