May 18, 2015 12:00 PM

>PHOTOMAX FAULKNER/GETTY IMAGESTaya and her children at Chris’s funeral in 2013. Inset: With Chris in 2012.



From the moment I heard Chris had been shot, I wanted to go and see him. The police insisted that I not go to the murder scene, and they kept me from the autopsy as well. They kept saying it was better that I not see him; I kept insisting that I had to.

Had to.

I knew it wasn’t pretty. I knew they cut him open with a saw. I got that he was murdered.

I still needed to be there.

Our friend Vincent—”V” for short—went with me. V had been with us on the book tour at different points and was a Dallas policeman; he was a calm, reassuring presence. Silent and watchful as he drove me to the funeral home, he waited with me outside as the white van pulled up. Someone had found a pair of blankets that had American flag motifs and covered both Chris and Chad with them. It was a thoughtful gesture, but it also meant I couldn’t see my husband’s face, or more than the bare outline of his body as he was carried past.

I started to follow the gurneys inside. “I don’t want him prepared,” I said. “I don’t want him cleaned up. I just want to be with him.”

“Give us five minutes,” said the funeral director. “Then you can see him.”

I stepped back.

We waited—I don’t know, probably less than five minutes, but it was all I could stand. I went inside, determined, unstoppable.

The funeral director met me. “I didn’t do as much as I wanted. His hands are still dirty from the fingerprinting.”

“His hands are always dirty,” I said.

Inside the room, Chris lay on the gurney, chest covered with the blanket. I bent to his face, tears pouring from my eyes, and kissed him.

How many times? A thousand. Not enough.

Never enough again.

Someone told me it was time to go.

“Five more minutes,” I pleaded. I stood by Chris’s body, knowing he was no longer here, yet feeling his presence as strongly as I’d felt anything ever.

A half hour later, Chris’s father Wayne came to get me.

“It’s time to go,” said Wayne gently.

“Five more minutes,” I asked. “Just five more.”

He stood back. How much time passed, I don’t know. It felt like only a few seconds.

“You do have to go,” Wayne said finally. This time, he put his hand under my elbow. V did the same on the other side.

“I can’t leave him.”

“Your kids need you. It’s night.”

“I can’t.” I thought about wives in other countries who lay down next to the casket all night. Why couldn’t I do that?

“The kids,” said Wayne.

“The kids,” I agreed.

We left. My knees buckled but against all reason I kept moving. My heart kept beating and my lungs kept breathing, all against my will.

You May Like