Loving, joyful, respectful, playful, kind
From birth, Chris was good-humored, loving, and playful. He enjoyed being goofy, playing pranks, making people laugh, and collecting and wearing hats. He was always active, riding his bike, skateboarding, surfing, fishing, playing baseball, and building forts.
At Christmas, Chris loved getting together with the family, opening gifts with his nieces, and enjoying food shipped from Katzs’ Deli in NYC, for their traditional Christmas Eve Dinner. Birthday traditions included a dinner of choice and a cake. Chris’s favorite dinner was stuffed shells.
Chris loved the beach and was passionate about surfing. He had a special bond with his nieces, Kylee and McKenzie, now 4 and 7. His mom recalls a favorite memory during a beach vacation in 2020 with Chris, his nieces, her and his dad. When he left, he kissed his mom and said, “I love you, Mama.” She holds that memory, and one of his favorite hats close to her chest when “I sit with a broken heart and cry,” his mom stated.
Chris was a finish carpenter for a company that traveled throughout the U.S. remodeling hotels. For 10 years, he traveled for months, working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, then getting a few months off, which was often spent with family and his longtime girlfriend, Rae. He and his brother Joe did some side jobs through their business, Priority One Handyman and Remodeling Services, and spent time together fishing. His sister Lisa and he would go to the beach, concerts, and clubs together. Chris helped her whenever needed and she was there for him throughout his addiction and supported his recovery.
Chris was engaged to Rae and had plans to marry, find a full-time job without travel and have children. He went to treatment many times but always relapsed. “For the first time in many years, I thought there was hope,” his mom stated. He was drug-free for 60 days and his family was to meet with him to celebrate that evening. That was the day he overdosed. “His goals were gone in a flash and so was his life,” his mom said.
Chris’ disease and eventual loss devastated the entire family. “I always worried about him, wondering if he would get in an accident, overdose, hurt himself or someone else,” his mom said. “I don’t think the pain and sadness will ever go away.” Like many parents, she wonders if she could have done more, or did too much and enabled him. She said, “I know he is free from his demons and is with God, but I would still like some sign from heaven that he is okay.”
Christopher’s mother, Joan Vaca, provided the information for this narrative.
February 13, 1988-September 22, 2020
Age 32-Lived with the disease of addiction for 14 years.