In memory of Christopher Baker, a wonderful human being

Memory page for Chris, June 10, 1980 – June 2, 2019

Randy: “Hi. My name is Randy Rogers and I am calling you to find out if any of the guys in the recovery house need to make some money because we need some landscaping done.”

Lee: “Yeah. There’s a guy named Chris. Come by on Saturday and I’ll introduce you.”

My husband, Randy, goes to the recovery house where Lee is house manager. This was where Charles lived for a single day before his relapse and ultimate suicide. Instead of the 19-year-old named Chris that Lee told us about, he introduces my husband to a 37-year-old Chris instead. Lee tells my husband he doesn’t think the other Chris was ready yet. For cash or responsibility.

But Chris Baker was several months in sobriety, around 4.5 months at this point.

Chris Baker stands up, my husband looks up. He looked pretty imposing. With a short haircut, he looked downright intimidating. My husband’s mind hesitated but tried not to show it outwardly. Chris was over six feet, all muscle and a robust build. Was this safe?

Turns out Chris was a big teddy bear with a heart the size of Texas. He was originally from Louisiana and it would be later when we’d meet his parents, his best friend, and his little girl. He showed me pictures of his trip to visit family. He couldn’t wait to see Lucy, his little cousin. Chris loved kids, his family and wanted recovery so badly because he wanted to be a good Dad for his girl.

Chris was Randy’s bridge to emotional healing after Charles’ suicide

I had the blog. Randy had Chris. OK, I had Chris, too.

I posted Chris’ picture on our neighborhood site and helped him by allowing him to use some tools to get started and people called because he did meticulous work.

We helped him by hiring him, promoting him, and one time we donated through JHW Foundation so he’d be able to make that last little bit to make rent. We didn’t want him to know it was us.

Chris became part of the family and we became the surrogate aunt and uncle. He took great pride in the yards he landscaped including ours. In fact, most the yards on the house tour in our neighborhood recently reflected Chris’ handiwork.

He painted a house for a car, got his license restored, worked his butt off to pay all the fines. He found supportive friends, supportive groups, caught rides to meetings, invited others to meetings, supported those struggling and sought help for his depression.

Our dog Andy loved Chris

Andy jumps up on my husband whom he adores. And he would hop up and down all over Charles, of course, since Andy was his dog.

Only one other person in the world earned that distinction and it was Chris. As a result, he did a lot of pet sitting when we were out of town. I didn’t know someone could spoil our dog more than Randy.

He was intelligent but was never beneath manual labor to maintain sobriety which he worked hard at. Achingly hard. He worked his way up to house manager at the recovery house, was a shining example of a sponsor, went on trips to fetch those who had relapsed out of hotel rooms and where ever else a friend in need might be.

Unfortunately, he lost his house manager position over a dispute and moved out to join another house, took another job at a gym helping procure new clients. It was all going well and then, just shy of eighteen months sober, Chris relapsed and we lost touch. It all happened so fast and then he vanished.

He worked in Louisiana and then Tennessee desperately looking for recovery but struggling to find it. Crack cocaine and alcohol luring him into the dark corners he so wanted to avoid. His depression pushing him there.

The video below was about Chris. My husband and I wanted him to know we still loved him even if he was using–something I feel I don’t think we communicated well to our son after he relapsed because we were so shocked. It’s never wrong to let our loved ones who suffer from SUD know that they are loved no matter what.

Finally, he returned to Richmond, broken, skinny, looking drawn and weary at 39. He admitted he was still using but wanted to find recovery again. We’d gotten scattered news along the way. But shame prevented him from contacting us as often. I was sorry about that and told him we loved him no matter what.

His living conditions were not ideal at first but he had a roof over his head and a bed. He was scratching his way back into recovery, had a job so we sent him a bus pass so he could get to work and ultimately he got back into recovery and was feeling good about his thirty day chip.

I saw him just a week ago when he came by to do the yard because my husband was out of town. It was hot so I loaned him my small cooler with water. I didn’t know he had relapsed again but I did notice he didn’t make eye contact so I had a feeling something was up. He gave me a hug and I could sense some hurting but he covered it well. Depression? Something else? My mind didn’t dare go to relapse. He had just gotten back in at the recovery house where we had met him.

It was Tuesday we learned his roommate found him unresponsive in what is suspected was an accidental overdose.

I saw a random comment on a post Chris made at Christmas

Someone had said “Rest In Peace, bro.” My heart lurched and my mind wanted to grab any excuse of why I might be reading what I saw. A phone call to Lee revealed he had died. Not the news we had hoped to hear three days before our son, Charles’, fourth death anniversary.

Chris was strong in his faith, always open about his addiction and recovery process, a caring dad and generous with his love. I thought he would make it. My husband thought he would make it. We all wanted it but that venomous, vile disorder known as addiction took his life right out from under him.

Dear Chris, you gave a lot of love and you helped us find emotional healing after our own son took his life while going through withdrawal. And for that we are forever grateful. We love you.

This impromptu recovery speech with Chris Baker at JHW Foundation. More pictures below.

Facebook Live with me and Chris Baker

Another video of Chris is here. He really was a speaker with amazing potential to motivate.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

43 thoughts on “In memory of Christopher Baker, a wonderful human being”

  1. dear chris baker,

    you have gifted me so much today…so much!  I want you to know.  I know you know, from your angel vantage point, but i need to put it in writing.

    i’m so so sorry for the pain you endured during your precious life here.  I pray for your little girl and your family and loved ones.

    i’ve read everything anne moss has posted and shared about you. there is no way you are anything but a divine light.  you emanate goodness in your videos, and in your deeds, and in the way people speak of you, and the stories they share.  you are so obviously, so smart, in head and heart.  i don’t understand how lives can be made so hard for such precious humans, like yourself… and like anne’s precious son, charles aubrey rogers.

    your gift to me today… that i never really understood before is that there are biochemical reactions that happen in our brains, and they can vary wildly. and even something like a simple dental procedure could turn a life’s trajectory 360 degrees.  i know how incredibly hard you fought for your life.  i am so sorry it was so hard.  i trust you have been forgiven and have forgiven yourself for everything.  and you are now doing the holy work you are so suited for.

    for you blessed me today – with what i pray is a lasting turning point.  I watched anne’s post: “Impromptu recovery speech with Chris Baker at JHW Foundation” many times now… you are so smart, so warm, so personable, with so much dignity and largess, AND down to earthness.  you are an inspirational, gifted speaker.

    some of your words… that got to me:
    ” this is life or death for me.  this is not a moral problem…  ‘if this person just loved their family enough, they’d stop doing what they’re doing.’  it’s a big problem, and it needs a big answer.”

    you explained so clearly, without rancor or resentment, that this is a disease…
    “everything has to change for an alcoholic or an addict: people, places and things, sometimes even the family.  …not only dealing with post-acute withdrawal from alcohol and drugs…   and now dealing with a changing environment, making new friends, a whole new way of life… finances… so so many stressors.

    what a Remarkable human you are.  the resourcefulness, creativity, resilience, fortitude you showed, just to live every day with the disease you had… in a society that fails to provide the scaffolding we all need. not just sober living houses… we need sober living… we need sober cultural, societal foundations and scaffolding for our lives, for our future.. for our earth.  

    after being with you through anne moss’ posts, i realized i have addictions… to suffering, to comfort, to privilege born of class differences, skin color, to illusions of control.  i realized i need to change my environment, people, places, work, relationship dynamics with everyone, family, friends, colleagues, the earth, food… everything.

    i don’t know the “how” of getting free of addiction to things, when the very society i live in, and look to for “foundations” and scaffolding, is what is producing and perpetuating the very components that addict me… that were designed to addict me… to keep me and the masses powerless, so the few could get rich and reign over the many.

    i don’t know the “how,” yet i know, there are enough of us seeking, yearning, longing, working our strengths, our “steps,” calling on each other, and angels like you to help guide our way from the other side.  and that we must, for the sake of life, get up everyday and try.

    thank you chris baker, thank you, i’m sorry for all the pain in this world. i know you forgive me when i’m weak, and cheer me on no matter what. in a few days, i start 3-6 months in a new environment, a big change… i’m determined to keep my eyes on liberation from this wicked, self-hating programming my brain biology has adapted..  thank you for being the angel you are.

    one request, would you please connect with my brother, jody deitchman, who took his life at 27 in 1980.  i was 18.  he was my best friend.  i miss him so much every, every day.  i don’t know why he can’t be here with me.  i need him.  please tell him:  i love him forever. i’m doing my best. please come and give me more messages. i need help. i need to not feel so alone.

    thank you chris baker.  may your family know the remarkable blessing you are, and that they are.  may we all re-member our essential goodness, at our core, always present, always pure, no matter what else has happened, or will happen.

    we are each blessed, and a blessing. may we re-member the gift of life we carry inside.  it is our salvation and our freedom. may we remember, the key, the truth is inside us.  beneath the lies, and the shiny distractions.  our bodies are miracles… we can overturn and overcome these epidemic biological maladaptations. the body is a miracle with direct access to the miracle of creation itself.  we have the power of creation in us. we can do this.

    and so it is.
    and so it is.
    and so it is.

    thank you,
    shana deane deitchman

    1. Shana- This is so thoughtful! Such a beautiful note. And amazing insight that I’ll need to come back and read again. You lost a brother. Jody Deitchman. My son Charles took his life in 2015. I pray they have found one another.

      1. thank you, anne. my sobbing through writing it was ultimately helpful in a cathartic way. and yes, i like to think my brother, jody and your son, charles have found each other, and chris.

        1. I find that some of my best writing is done while I was crying. When I go back and look at blog posts from the past I can even remember which ones were written during a waterfall of tears. Like you, thinking that they’ve met helps.

  2. Thank you all for such beautiful words of kindness & love about my son Christopher. I still feel buried alive. Indeed he was all the amazing things you knew. I miss his laughter and his one of kind way with making me laugh till I’d cry for him to stop! I KNOW WHERE he is, I know he is whole, happy and loving being FREE! Christopher, YOU WON BABY, because your light shined even in your darkest struggles! I know you can now feel love, the one thing you so longed to feel! He was one of a kind! Thank you all for loving him, I know he loved each of you!

    1. Kathy- I was just thinking of you on Sunday and wondered how you were doing. I know how much this hurts and I still miss Chris and always will. That hearty laugh and my dog’s exuberance when he’d come over replays in my mind. (Andy is never excited about anyone but my husband but he was overjoyed always to see Chris.) I know he is not forgotten because I still see the searches to this post and I will continue to share his beautiful soul. And now he has met my son. Never my goal so soon but that offers me some peace. His light did shine through the darkness, despite the darkness.

  3. I’m sorry for your loss. Ok just found out about Chris’ passing. I stayed in a neighboring recovery house 4 years ago and used to hang out with him and work out with him in the shed behind his house where we set up a gym together.

    The Chris I knew was a great guy on his way to recovery and success in life. I’m sorry things turned so quickly for him, but it is a great reminder just how rapidly relapse can deteriorate your life.

    Thank you for writing this and taking the time to spread a positive image of Chris’ life and a message of recovery.

    1. Alex-You must have been staying at the Roanoke House. I remember him telling me about the shed and his workout partners. I thought the same thing. That he was headed for a great life. Charles, my son who died by suicide, stayed at Roanoke House. Only for a day before his relapse. But you are here and that gives me hope, Alex. Thank you for commenting. And this blog is a friendly place for those who suffer SUD. Anytime you want to write a story, you are welcome to.

  4. Sorry to hear this. Chris did several jobs for us. He was a hard worker, personable and kind. He helped my husband during our move while I pregnant and Chris actually made moving fun! The best help he ever gave me though was after I had my second baby, the kids and I were napping while he worked outside and he knew how tired I was and he wouldn’t let any delivery workers or solicitors make it up to my door to wake me. So thoughtful of him. Invaluable. He was one of only a few workers I was comfortable having around when my husband wasn’t home, because his big heart made it clear to all that he had the best of intentions. Thank you for sharing your & Chris’ story.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this story about Chris. I considered him a dear friend. He was so kind, such a hard worker and never asked for anything he didn’t already earn. Before our neighborhood home show I spent almost every day with him for 3 weeks getting our house, deck and yard ready. He was literally a god-send. He discovered our elderly cat after she snuck out of the house to die. While he was showing her to to me my daughter came up and he lovingly distracted her back inside the house. He whispered to me to go in with her and he would take care of our cat. He later told me he found a perfect spot under a tree, buried her and said a prayer over her body. That is the kind of person he was. I’m so heartbroken I will never see him walk, bike or drive up to our house. I’ll never get fragmented stories of his life. I will never see his gentle (and sometimes defeated) smile. He was so much better than the way that he died and I think that’s what is so difficult to accept. He didn’t know how magnificent and how loved he truly was.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss, I just lost my son as well on May 05, 2019, he was only 20 years old. I read your story and only people who go through this can truly understand what a family goes through. Because it’s not only him but all the family , his brother and sisters..how badly you want him to get better so he can reach his full potential in everything God intent him to be. I am saddened but it’s a process as we grieve for the loss but also remembering him in all we got to share with him. Ms. Rogers we will be praying for you and your family, as well for all the families going through this situation in their life. Your son seem to be a very loving person but the disease combined with depression is horrible. May God give you strength and peace in this time of need.

  7. Gut-wrenching story about Chris. You and Randy are brave and caring for putting yourselves out there for him, knowing the potential consequences. Prayers for “ultimate healing” for Chris.

  8. Chris, Chris, Chris. You will always be in my heart. Titus will be in heaven waiting for you. Just like Andy, you were his guy. I’m glad we talked in the last few months and I wish I had known, but I understand that we always wish we would have known and that still would not make a difference. You worked so hard, my boy, and helped so many.

      1. Thank you for sharing your story about Chris. I grew up with him in Laredo, TX as children but did not know him as an adult. Even so, it is so hard to hear about his untimely passing. We never know what people are struggling with and sometimes we can be quick to judge. What a blessing you two were for him. It brings comfort to know that he was never alone. God bless you all always.

  9. Anne – thank you for this beautiful tribute to Chris and all you do to support those with Substance Abuse Disorder. Chris was a beautiful soul and much loved by many. Though Chris has moved onto another place, those of us left will continue to fight and never give up on spreading love and recovery to those who still suffer. God Bless You!
    Debbie Sangster

    1. Thank you for what you and Bob do for the community. And I know you guys are so much loss and have to focus on the successes in order to keep going forward. I can’t help but think his sinus surgery might have been the culprit that triggered relapse.

  10. I so appreciate your site, your courage to share. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son and for christopher.
    My son just entered a detox place and I’m holding on to hope that he will continue this journey and find help and peace in a rehab situation. He is in his 30’s with no insurance so I’m terrified he won’t find good help and terrified he won’t choose that path. It was pills at first and then he recently crossed the line to heroin which is a line he said he’d never cross.
    I myself am a recovering alcoholic so fortunately and unfortunately I know addiction. I live with it and today I choose sobriety. It’s been many grateful years that I’ve chosen sobriety each day but … I had a lot of help so I’m terrified. I feel denial at this point because the pain of thinking my son will lose this battle is too unthinkable. Ive always felt there are really are no words to express the pain but you have found the courage to find the words and I so appreciate that.

    1. We are going to hold onto hope for your son. We are going to express confidence that he will make it and has the tools to do so. Because we need to think that way. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. I am so sorry. Heartbroken to hear this and devastated. Despite not knowing him I know others who fight this battle and am mourning with you knowing that it could be any one, any day.

  12. Anne, I’m sorry for your loss. Chris would sometimes come into Outpost with friends and grab some coffee or a snack. He always had a great disposition and a smile on his face. It’s truly heartbreaking to know how much pain he must have been enduring on the inside. Rest in peace.

  13. Another beautiful soul taken to soon. I’m sorry for the deep loss you and Randy, and his family are experiencing. 💔

  14. So very sad, I can’t put into words. I’m sure your heart is breaking over this wonderful young man. I’m fighting back tears as I read this.
    This disease is so very horrible it can do that to someone so strong. I’m sorry the world has lost another genuine human being who deserved better.
    I’m very sorry for yet another loss to your family as well Anne. 💔

  15. Oh Anne Moss, I am so sorry. You and Randy are so resilient and full of love. I am sure that unconditional love for him made a difference in Chris’s life.

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