A “Short” Ride to Heaven

For whatever reason, I have a hard time using someone’s nickname when I speak directly to them. I can use it when speaking about them, but I feel I must use their given name when meeChris 6th gradeting their eyes, especially if I know them well. This has always been the case with Mr. Chris “Short” Blankenship.

We met as sixth graders. That was the year when the Gerald and Owensville kids combined at one location. On a warm spring day, nearly every other student in our school was away on a field trip. Apparently Chris and I were not good fundraisers, so we were left at school with a few others to play at the park all day. This was the first time we really had a conversation with each other, partly due to my shyness, the other because he was the most popular boy in school and everyone wanted to talk to him.
We played one on one basketball nearly the entire time and I was seriously competitive, so I was giving him a run for his money, as a girl. That was the beginning of our friendship, whether we spent every weekend together or only caught up occasionally as our lives took different paths.
Regardless of time, Chris was one who never judged nor turned his nose up at you and each time we ran into each other, his arms were spread wide and that goofy smile was on his face and I’d hear, “Carey!”
This is why he was loved by so many. He was always Chris, no matter what crowd he was hanging with, he was always the same person.
When I opened up Face Book that Monday afternoon as I was picking up my child from Middle School, my mind became confused, panicked and started a denial process. Immediately I messaged a long time friend of mine and she gave me the grim rundown of events that I had not yet heard.
I’m sick.
I hurt.
My mind is racing and screaming NO!
How could this be? He’s not waking up? He’s a pro motorcycle rider, it was a county fair, and how could this go wrong? Nothing can happen to Short Blankenship, he IS invincible! Many of our minds were screaming the same sentiment.
I could not call anyone. I did not feel it was my place, this was too real, too sacred, too heart breaking. I waited, along with every other person who Chris had touched with his personality.
A day later, as I rode in my Kubota, clipping our pastures, I knew this would be the deciding day. Such heaviness heaved itself upon me for days and I was just on the outskirts of the tragraduationgedy, not in the eye of the storm.
As my music shuffled from my phone to the tractor speakers, I heard the song play and my heart shattered. I knew before I even opened up my phone to look that Chris “Short” Blankenship had passed from this Earth. The very first post I viewed as I swiped my phone was from a moto-cross friend of his that explained, due to the severity of Short’s injuries that he sustained at a race the past weekend, he had indeed passed away.
I sat in my tractor seat and wept as if I were a little girl, with waves of tears, gasps and emotions rolling over me again and again and again, just as every single person who knew Short was doing at that same exact moment.
Our Owensville class of 1994 had lost too many classmates already, but Chris was my first true friend that had left my life, forever.
Eacshort 2h of us ask the question of, “Why did he have to be taken from us so early”? Especially his wife and two children. Fair? Never.

As time has passed and our hearts have had time to accept and heal, we again smile as we think of those many crazy, fun experiences or those late night sentimental, overly philosophical conversations we all have had with that man.
God does not bring us home until we have fulfilled our purpose. We’ve heard that our entire lives.
Look at how many lives Chris Blankenship has touched. How many memories he has given us to reminisce about.
How many of us can leave a legacy like he has by just being ourselves? By being true to whom we are, one hundred percent of the time? THAT is pretty freakin’ awesome.

That song, that was playing, that told me the truth that I did not want to believe, was Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue. As I took control of my tears that day, I couldn’t help but to smirk at him and think, “Well………..how fitting”. Because there was no way that Chris “Short” Blankenship was going to make a quiet, mundane entrance into the gates of Heaven, he was going to be playing that electric guitar at the highest decibel possible, letting every angel know he was arriving , singing to them,


“I’m coming home. Home Sweet Home.”

short 4

10 thoughts on “A “Short” Ride to Heaven”

  1. Brenda Saunders

    Carey among others things I am so impressed with your expressing writing and as usual you made your mom cry . I remember hearing
    Chris’s name a lot during your youth .

    1. thank you Momma, today I was asked when I knew I could write so “expressively” as you put it and it made me think to my childhood that both my brother & I occasionally wrote like this while growing up.

  2. Carey that is such a great memory you have of Short. Thank you for sharing. You can write some deep feelings so well. You have a real gift. I’m sure Short is agreeing.

  3. One thing struck a chord and that was lack of judgement. Chris made me feel so comfortable even when I was wrapped up with so many insecurities…he was always kind and real. I’m so glad that on his wedding day I told him how I felt about him. Being so extremely nervous, for he was so popular and known (for all the best reasons, I must add) I got up the courage to try to not sound goofy and corny. But I approached the line during their dollar dance on their wedding day, got in line, and when it came to my time to dance with Chris, I expressed how kind he was to me through all those years of family engagements, wrestling cousins, school locker time, etc. I thanked him for never putting me down and always being kind. (I was shaking and it still gets to me thinking back.) He replied, “Awe, Jody, your family.” I called BS, and told him he was like that to everyone. So happy I did. I have so many little memories of his kindness…and I was never in his “group”. He has inspired me to be less judgemental….and less judging has led to more love. I thank him for that. I know that at the time you were falling to pieces on the tractor seat…I was crumpled up on my bathroom floor doing that ridiculous, bouncing cry. May our moments of loss allow us to realize all of our potential gain. Thanks for sharing. –J

    1. What a wonderful, honest response. Thank you for sharing. Your last comment got me good. We all had our own reactions that was devastating and life altering to us.

Leave a Comment