The next chapter in our life together

Conflicting Worlds of Love and Fear

March 15 was one of those days that are hard to reconcile.  March 15, 2019 – the first birthday of my son Christopher since his suicide last April. Chris turned 29 as I had many thoughts of last year when Chris invited Mark Odegard, his stepdad, Peter and Ricki (my brother and Chris’ uncle and his wife) and myself to help him celebrate his 28th birthday. Looking back I was beginning to notice some odd behavior from Chris as he would disappear for 10-30 minutes with no explanation when he returned. At the same time Chris was seeking more connection and acceptance from family members. So hard to understand mental health when you are not the person experiencing the paranoia (in Chris’ case). I ended the day spreading some of Chris’ cremains in the field behind Adam’s home and honoring the memory of Chris and our wonderful times together during his 28+ years on the planet. Thank you Chris and may we all keep learning how to help each other….. together and apart.

On the New Zealand end of March 15th was this incredible outpouring of student engagement for the Student Strike 4 Climate, a global event with 30 different locations in New Zealand with thousands of youth hitting the streets asking for climate action from their leaders. Around the world over a million young people did the same and I can only hope that this kind of action will stimulate the kind of action by our elected leaders to address the magnitude of what’s needed. One report after the global action had the UN Secretary General announcing a special session on Climate Change which seems unprecedented and totally outside the “business as usual” way of doing things. Here are the young stars in action.


Mindy and I spent most of the day supporting Maha and Maya (our host family 16 year old twins) and the youth along the Kapiti coast,  making posters, developing chants, listening to speakers (including us) and marching around the town. The energy and empowerment of the youth (ages 6- high school) was dramatic to watch and the message of continuing action and outreach hopefully understood. See the photos and videos of the day.

Near the end of the day Maya mentioned that there was a shooting in Christchurch and I heard it has “oh dear God, not here in this beautiful, peaceful, tolerant country.” But indeed the cancer of hate and intolerance as been exported even to such a place as New Zealand. The response from the Prime Minister to the victims in the Muslim community was heart wrenching and full of compassion and “there is no place for this kind of behavior in our country.”

It was well said by Russel Norman a Greenpeace staff person here in New Zealand:

“Together we will keep hope alive and stand for peace and cooperation. We will stand against hate and oppression, and work to promote peace, in this country and around the world.”

and what better way to show this than by working with youth to give them the power to create the political will necessary to bring forth  what we know to be true. As Greta Thunberg the Swedish 16 year old who has emboldened this movement with her Friday Strikes for Climate Action says “we know what to do, now it is a question of awakening the people”

This is something I resonate with.

That’s how March 15, 2019 was for me.

– Paul






  1. Kate Schachter

    How appropriate, even if painful, that you carried Chris’s ashes with you to New Zealand for his ashes internment.
    I would encourage you, if you wish, to post this report to the RPCV4EA Facebook page. That first-hand report of the youth strike is wonderful!

    Have you seen this image out of New Zealand, a symbol of resilience after the attack?

    Travel well,

  2. Brett

    Dear Paul, thanks for such a powerful, vulnerable, and hopeful post today on such a meaningful anniversary for you. Sending you all our love and thoughts as you two enjoy New Zealand’s adventures 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *