Rivers and Roads
Eighteen Years in Heaven
April 3, 2019

Lucas Christopher Ross
October 31, 1979 - April 3, 2001
Acute Bronchopneumonia


It was late summer and it was a beautiful Idaho day. Robin (my husband) and I had taken our children on a vacation to Soda Springs, Idaho....The town where Luke was born. Luke was 8 years old and Emily (Luke's sister) was 11. We enjoyed our visit to Soda Springs and then headed out of town. We passed the little town of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho where we all used to go and soak in the hot tubs. As we drove through this little town in Idaho we saw a sign .... WHITE WATER RIVER RAFTING. We all wanted to experience something fun and exciting and different. We took a vote and everyone agreed that this would be a fun and exciting thing to do. So we all said..."Let's go for it!"

We arrived at the rafting place and inquired about a trip down the river. The old unkempt man behind the counter asked us if we wanted a guide or if we wanted to go it alone. Being adventurous we said..."We'll go it alone." So we paid him for the trip and then he went outside and loaded our small yellow raft into the back of a very old, beat-up, rusty pick-up truck. The yellow raft really didn't look like those heavy-duty rafts you see on river trips. It looked more like a raft for a swimming pool. Robin and I just looked at each other thinking... "This must be okay, or they wouldn't let us go with our children."

So we all piled in the front of the old pick-up truck with this old guy as we headed off down the road. Robin in the middle with Emily on his lap, because I refused to sit next to the old unkemt guy. After a few miles he drove up to the edge of a small canyon. We all got out of that old truck and the old guy gave us our raft and equipment. While pointing down he said..."The river is down there". I thought it was odd that he just dropped us off like that without any instructions or anything. So the old guy got back in his truck and as he was driving away leaving the four of us on the edge of this canyon, he had a huge grin on his face. I thought to myself..."What is that old guy grinning about?" Driving away he leaned out the window and said..."I'll see you at the end."

Well, there we were at the top of a canyon that we were going to have to climb down into. So Robin and I put the raft over our heads and we both had a life vest on each arm and oars to carry too! As we headed down the canyon with a yellow raft, that by this time we had dubbed the K-MART KAYAK, we were trying to hold on to the kids and told them over and over..."Be very careful."

By the time we finally got to the bottom of the canyon we were doubting our decision. We saw that the water was relatively calm and were beginning to wonder about this trip. Robin said...."Well, I sure hope we have some white water!" We stood there on the bank of the river and we all put on our life vests, got into the little yellow raft, and began gently floating down the river. I looked at Robin and asked..."Where the heck is the white water?" He said..."I don't know, but I think we got ripped off." I said... "Well, that is probably what that old guy was grinning about." Emily and Luke seemed like they were having a great time just floating down the river so we decided to be content with our 'float' trip.

We floated, and floated, and floated. Finally we came to some steep cliff walls and noticed that on the top of the cliff were several people waving their arms and shouting 'something' at us, but we had no idea what they were saying. So we all just smiled and waved back, but they kept shouting. I said to Robin... "What the heck is wrong with those people?" He just shrugged his shoulders, as the raft kept floating down the river. Then we began to notice that the water was churning up. All of a sudden we saw what the people on the cliff were trying to warn us about and probably what the old guy that dropped us off was grinning about..... A WATERFALL with about a 10 foot drop! Which all in all is not that bad of a drop, unless, of course, you are in the K-MART KAYAK!

At this point there was no turning back, but believe me we had never paddled in reverse so fast in all of our lives. Before we knew it we were tumbling down the waterfall. Robin and I looked at each other trying not to let the kids know that we were totally scared out of our minds! Our eyes widened with fear... fear that Emily and Luke just assumed was the excitement and fun they were promised. Robin screamed to me above the sound of the crashing water..."Hold on to the kids!" as I screamed to the kids above the sound of the crashing water .... "Hold on to the boat!" It seemed as if we were trapped in time and getting to the bottom of that waterfall was going to take forever. As the water was crashing into the rocks, and into the raft and into our faces, I lost all sanity and screamed....."We're all going to die!" But the kids thought that dear ol' Mom was just joking and they were laughing the whole time, never suspecting that everything was totally out of control.

By the time we reached the bottom of the waterfall our raft was full of water. The kids were sitting in water up to their waists and our raft was about to sink. Robin said... "We need to get out and bail the boat." Well there was no way that I was going to put the kids in this water from Hell with just a life vest on. So I said.... "We have to find a place to bank the boat!" We looked around and on both sides of the river and as far as we could see were solid rock vertical cliffs with nowhere to bank the boat. I was trying to regain my sanity, but was thinking..."We are going to sink in this K-MART KAYAK." Finally we saw a small protrusion of rock a little above the water level so we headed for that, paddling like maniacs.

When we arrived at the protrusion Robin jumped out of the boat to hold it so that me and Emily and Luke could stand on the protrusion while he bailed out the boat. The kids and I were still sitting in the boat waiting for him to come up. It seemed again like we were trapped in time and I just knew that the current had sucked him under and I would spend the rest of my life in that K-MART KAYAK on the RIVER OF NO RETURN. But finally Robin emerged from the Hell hole screaming...."There is no bottom to this river!"

Somehow me and Emily and Luke were able to get out of the boat to this tiny protrusion. We three stood with our backs glued to this cliff, with barely enough room for our feet to rest, while Robin bailed out the boat. Then we got back in and feared for what might be up ahead. After many miles of floating we all began laughing at ourselves. The rest of the trip was very peaceful and beautiful.

When we finally got back to the END, to the K-MART KAYAK docking station, we returned our raft and gear without saying one word about the living Hell we had just been through. We all ran to the car, leaving with memories of terror that would later become the K-MART KAYAK STORY that we would laugh at over and over through the years.

Sometimes when I am alone and I talk to Luke, I smile and laugh a little while reminiscing on that trip down the river. Then, as a tear gently runs down my face, I softly whisper to him........... "I'll see you at the end."

© 2014 Christine Ross
~ in memory of Lucas Christopher Ross 1979 - 2001


We drove down from the mountain top
To another place and time,
The town where he took his first breath
In nineteen seventy nine.

We walked the streets of Soda Springs
And thought about his smile.
We saw the place where he was born
And we cried there for awhile.

We watched the geyser touch the sky
As drops of sadness touched the ground.
We searched the town of Soda Springs
Where hidden memories could be found.

The playground's baby swing hung still,
So we gave it a gentle push.
We thought we heard him giggle
Even though his voice is hushed.

We Passed the house where we all lived
When he was a baby boy.
Recalling special moments
That will forever bring us joy.

We went out to the little park
Where he used to laugh and play.
We stood there on the covered bridge
And watched his ashes float away.

What a bittersweet vacation
Stepping back into the past.
Reliving the beginnings of.....
A life that didn't last.

© 2017 - Christine Ross
In memory of Lucas Christopher Ross
Born October 31, 1979 Soda Springs, Idaho
Died April 3, 2001 Cave Creek, Arizona
21 Acute Bronchopneumonia


In the towering mountains of cool, clear Northern Arizona there is an amazing stretch of highway that goes from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.

My husband Robin and I first traveled this remarkable road as a young married couple. We were so young, and so in love, and so full of life and energy that experiencing the Grand Canyon was a personal quest of ours. From Flagstaff, Arizona we went north up this embracing highway. As we passed the graceful aspen trees, and the tall ponderosa pines that were reaching for the sky, and as we viewed the overpowering mountain peaks rising above this God-given landscape, we were in awe. Drawn to the beauty of a serene, secluded forest campsite just off this mystical road, shadowed by majestic peaks we captured within all of our senses the beauty of the surrounding landscape in this soul gripping rustic place. We set up camp there and spent a romantic night under the stars. Little did we know the secrets this road would reveal throughout our lives.

Exactly nine months later I gave birth to our first child... a tiny, dainty, beautiful little girl we named Emily. Our lives became indescribably enriched by this new-found expression of our love. This tiny person captured our hearts and became the center of our attention. Our love had multiplied and it was a wonderful feeling.

Then just a few years later we discovered that our lives would again be enlightened by another little person. Opportunity presented itself and our happy little family of 3 and 1/2 moved all the way across the country from Louisiana to Idaho. Just a few short months later our family became complete with the birth of a special little boy, full of unconditional love, that we proudly named Luke.

One year after Luke's birth we moved back to Louisiana, but the four of us kept within us that ever-burning desire to go west. For the next twelve years our family vacations consisted of numerous trips to Disney World, trips to the beach, fishing trips, and, of course, uncountable ventures out west. As destiny would have it, we found ourselves driving that beautiful stretch of highway north of Flagstaff, that same alluring road that had produced our first child. But, now instead of traveling as a couple we were traveling as a family of four. Emily and Luke were overflowing with enthusiasm and anticipation for the visit to the Grand Canyon. We stopped several times along this generous road to take photos and breathe in the crisp mountain air. As we passed the same campsite where the seed of our first child was planted, we pointed it out to Emily and told her "That is a very special place that Dad and I will tell you about someday."

Years passed, time flew by, and again life brought about change with an opportunity to return to the west. We anxiously moved to Phoenix, Arizona, fulfilling a long-awaited dream. With our new-found environment there was so much to explore. In the summertime we found ourselves escaping the heat of the dry desert by exploring that magical highway on weekend family trips.

Luke, now a teenager, loved taking road trips in his Jeep. He took many excursions on this same welcoming highway in search of adventure. He would come back home with stories of secrets revealed by this highway when taking back road trips to unseen destinations.

Yearly, when fall arrived, our little family of four would journey this special highway to experience the spectacular display of nature. At various enchanted spots along this breathtaking road we would picnic on a quilt cushioned by a ground cover of golden aspen leaves.

In early summer, while cruising the back roads off of this wise old highway, we happened upon a little 2 acre spread of land, nestled between the mountains and covered with aspen trees and ponderosa pines, all the while inviting us with an irresistible "FOR SALE" sign.

The following year involved preparations for the building of our little log cabin. This would be our ultimate family retreat. Upon completion we indulged in family gatherings that included croquet, horseshoes, hiking, campfires, cookouts, and memorable family times.

At thanksgiving we once again journeyed this magical road to our little cabin hide-away. Upon arrival a blanket of sparkling snow welcomed us. As we said grace that Thanksgiving, I thanked God for bringing all four of us together at this special place and time.

Christmas delivered even more snow. This was our first white Christmas since that snowy Idaho Christmas twenty-one years ago, just a few months after Luke's birth. As the snowflakes were gently falling, Luke & Emily burst through the front door of the little cabin into a room warmed by a crackling winter fire. As they stood there, Luke (now my 21 year old son) was brushing the snow off of his strong shoulders, looking all around as if it were his first time to see this place. Luke said "Wow Mom, this looks like those lodges we used to go to on vacations." The he said "I want a cabin." Those words still echo through my mind and squeeze my heart, because this would be the last time that Luke would cross that threshold. This road had once again delivered something very special that would have to last a life time.

Months later Robin and I had gone up to our little cabin alone. We were driving down this memorable highway and had just turned on the forest road heading to the cabin. As soon as the tires left the pavement and touched down on the dirt road, I knew without a doubt, that Luke was no longer on this earth. I felt it deep within me as if the road once again revealed a secret, but this time a secret I did not want to know.

Shortly after Luke's death we sold our house in the desert and moved to our little cabin in the mountains. As we drove down this now lonely highway to the dirt forest road, I thought about how Luke must have his very own cabin in Heaven, just as he had wished for at Christmas only months ago. As we drove through the gate, passed the sign announcing LUCAS LODGE, I knew at that very moment, that I was where destiny had led me.

Many years passed and the winters became too difficult with the only transportation to the paved road was by snowmobile. We decided that after all those years to move to a place in Northern Arizona, away from Destiny Road, that had plowed roads in the winter and would make access much easier. So we moved to our new house in the woods... but we never forgot our little Cabin of days gone by.

We sold our little Cabin in the woods with very mixed emotions. Another turning point in our lives. We no longer own a place that Luke has physically been. We saw the little cabin one last time before the new owners took possession. As I stood there on the front porch, gazing at the mountain view, shadowed by the pines, I said my last goodbye to that little Cabin in the woods that represents a lifetime of experiences.

Then, as fate would have it, Emily was married. She chose their wedding place to be in a wildlife viewing park, with a view of the majestic mountains and in the background there was that wonderful stretch of highway. As we drove to her wedding site, down that highway of dreams, we passed Luke's Adopt-A-Highway sign that said "The Family of LUCAS CHRISTOPHER ROSS, LUKE". We had all come full circle.

That fateful highway will always be a symbol of years and years of collected memories, placed safely within the hearts of four destined souls that will forever be a part of ......DESTINY ROAD.

© 2012 Christine Ross
~ in memory of Lucas Christopher Ross 1979 - 2001


Tears fall and the sweet memories of Luke,
Flood through my consciousness so fast.
Just memories remain so I begin,

Our desperate search for Luke has ended,
He is in his room all alone.
We are speeding along so anxiously,
Trying so hard to get back home.

We seem to move down the road so slowly,
Through the warm and stale April night.
I hear only the hum of tires and stare,
Straight ahead at the red taillights.

The scene grips my soul as we park the car,
Home sweet home as never before,
The eerie shadows of bright flashing lights,
Police tape across the front door.

We want to go inside and see our son,
We're not allowed is what we are told.
We wait forever in the heat outside,
Although the desert seems so cold.

Murmurs and voices are muffled and drift,
Across the still dark desert air.
The hours of endless waiting linger,
As I go to my God in prayer.

I ache in the dark and lonely silence,
As I shed my own private tears.
While in my suffering mind I relive,
All of those fond wonderful years.

I finally enter the house alone,
My footsteps stop cold at his door.
My heart is heavy with sadness and pride,
I want to hold him just once more.

Luke's Dad joins me and together we stand,
Holding on to each otherís clutch.
We can only gaze in dull disbelief,
Because we're not allowed to touch.

Outside his only sister cries: "No Luke!"
As it echoes throughout the night.
I painfully watch the coroners van,
Until it is out of my sight.

We enter our home once again and search,
For answers of what took his life.
Nothing is found but shattered hopes and dreams,
Stabbing through our hearts like a knife.

Somehow morning arrives and seems to move,
At an unexplainable pace.
Suspended we make unbearable plans,
That time will not ever erase.

Oh my God! I just can not believe it,
Twenty-one years old and he's dead.
Numbness absorbs me and everything feels,
So misplaced in my mixed up head.

The autopsy is done and finally,
I touch his soft beautiful skin.
Within my chest is a horrible pain,
Because of the absence of him.

Final good-byes before his cremation,
We give him an eternal kiss.
Once more I ask God to please bring him back,
This is my last and only wish.

But my only wish is never granted,
Once again he's warm in my lap.
He's back home again but only ashes,
Oh when I will wake from this nap.

Family members arrive for his service,
They all come from so far away.
To honor our Lucas Christopher Ross,
On this his everlasting day.

We are gathered with loved ones and flowers,
Within a never yearned for place.
There are hugs and precious words of comfort,
As tears stream down each saddened face.

Now solemnly his friends fill the chapel,
As they each enter one by one.
Words and music then the service concludes,
The emptiness has just begun.

After endless weeks of waiting to know,
We get an answer to our why,
Pneumonia crept in and left him to stay,
All alone in his room to die.

Our little family is not apart,
In some strange unusual way.
We share Luke's imperishable spirit,
Each day after day after day.

Our love, dreams and unfading memories,
Still make us cry and make us laugh.
And the FOUR of us spend a lot of time,

© 2001 - Christine Ross
~ in memory of Lucas Christopher Ross 1979 - 2001


as performed by The Head and the Heart

A year from now we'll all be gone
All our friends will move away
And they're going to better places
But our friends will be gone away

Nothing is as it has been
And I miss your face like Hell
And I guess it's just as well
But I miss your face like Hell

Been talking 'bout the way things change
And my family lives in a different state
And if you don't know what to make of this
Then we will not relate
So if you don't know what to make of this
Then we will not relate

Rivers and roads
Rivers and roads
Rivers 'til I reach you

Rivers and roads
Oh rivers and roads
Oh rivers 'til I reach you

Rivers and roads
Rivers and roads
Rivers 'til I reach you


Rivers 'Till I Reach You


On April 3, 2019 we went to brunch at a creekside restaurant in Sedona, AZ. We had a wonderful meal in Luke's honor and memory. As we were leaving the resturant this little boy about 10 years old said..."Look Mom, that man has a shirt that says LUCAS on it." (Robin was wearing one of his special LUCAS shirts) Then the little boy jumped up and ran down the hallway as his mom called out...."LUCAS come back here". We were amazed that Luke ONCE AGAIN found a way to send us a special sign. THANK YOU LUKE!!!!


Spooky is our little Basset Hound Mix that died on January 23, 2019 from abdominal cancer. We miss him so. He was named SPOOKY because of Luke being born on Halloween and because Spooky had a spot of white hair on his side that looked like a ghost.

(click on photo below)





18 years in Heaven

17 years in Heaven

16 years in Heaven

15 years in Heaven

14 years in Heaven

13 years in Heaven

12 years in Heaven

11 years in Heaven

10 years in Heaven

9 years in Heaven

8 years in Heaven

7 years in Heaven

6 years in Heaven

5 years in Heaven

4 years in Heaven

3 years in Heaven

2 years in Heaven

1 year in Heaven


Last Entry in Luke's Journal:

"When there is love in my heart and a smile on my face,
I need nothing else." ~ Luke Ross


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