“Sharp knife of a short life…” [Tribute to Axel and the Charrette family]

Step. Breath.

My feet propel me on. My ever singing headphones pause for a moment. A good, quiet moment and then a sweet voice fills my heart:

If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song.

The sobs swell in my throat. I choke them back down but loose. It is hard to run and cry…

Nearly two weeks ago, this world was robbed of another young life. It isn’t very often that the cruelty and brokenness of the world touches us in this way. The Charrette family, fellow adventure lovers and bloggers over at Velomom.com lost their two-year old son while in Mexico. It shouldn’t have happened. It was a life stolen.

Axel Charrette

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8

I never met Axel but I see his gleeful smiles in my own two-year old as she scoops up water and the drops cascade down on her smiling face. I’ve never met Jen or her husband, but for months now we’ve joined arms with fellow outdoor bloggers to pursue adventure and family together. I’ve never met them face to face but I’ve shared the same free spirit and love of adventure…and now I feel just a part of the sorrow they are experiencing when it ends as it never should.

The song plays on, my feet pounding out the pavement…

Lord, make me a rainbow,

I’ll shine down on my mother.

She’ll know I’m safe with you

when she stands under my colors

Oh, and life ain’t always what you think it ought to be, no

Ain’t even gray, but she buries her baby…

I get home. I grab each of my kids and hold them tight. I want to box them up, hedge them in, keep they away from the world and all the inherent dangers therein. I wonder if we should give up all this crazy notion of adventure and trips and try to limit our dangers. But I know I cannot.

What can I do? Right now everything is feeling hopeless.

The words of Elizabeth Elliott, twice a widow, echo in my mind,

Do the next right thing.


I guess we do the next right thing. When tragedy hits, the world keeps on spinning. At first it is offensive. Surely everything should stop?! And then it is a blessed distraction from the pain… and in the end it is comforting and healing. We take one small step at a time. And then another. Just as we would to summit an unconquerable mountain in front of us. And the burn in our lungs, the occasional tear in our eyes, the muscle ache, the crisp wind, the blue skies and star-filled nights, they bring a measure of healing. I pray they bring a measure of peace for the Charrette family, and bring them a step closer to the God who holds all their tears in a bottle, and will one day wipe them all away.

Step. Breath.

Original song and lyrics from “If I die young”, The Band Perry. Performed on video and used with permission, by Mary Sue and Sadie Thompson. 

The memorial for Axel is today, March 12, 2013. If you’d like to contribute, they have set up an Axel Memorial Fund: Alpine Bank (970-626-4100) and reference the Axel Charrette fund. Checks can be made out to Axel Charrette Fund, c/o Alpine Bank, 119 Liddell Drive, Ridgway, CO 81432.The Charrette family will be using the money to share Axel’s love of biking in conjunction with Strider Bikes to reach out to kids who might never have the opportunity to pursue the sport. More details to be shared at a later date.


5 comments on ““Sharp knife of a short life…” [Tribute to Axel and the Charrette family]
  1. Alyssa, a comment can’t fully express how this post “got me” today. I know the song but I don’t know if I could have kept going had it played during one of my runs/rides. I had tears in my eyes as I tried to finish reading. Here’s to many rainbows shining down on the Charrette family.

  2. Pingback: Odyssey Outdoors | On the Loss of a Child - Odyssey Outdoors

  3. My name is Alyssa too. I have been rocked to the core over this horrible tragedy. My heart just aches for this family. I’ve never met them but I also feel a weird connection since I also have young children myself. I wish I could have been there to help protect him…to do SOMETHING. In a way I feel a sense of guilt that I wasn’t there to save this child….it’s so hard to explain. I’m just so angry and sad over this, he had so much laid out in store for him on this earth, I can’t get past how that was stolen from him and his family. I look over at my two kids, I can’t even begin to imagine the loss. I just want to cry over this baby boy….he didn’t deserve this.

  4. Pingback: Axel Charrette | Velo Mom

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