Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

Hi there, I'm now posting my regular blog at, but I wanted to put this out there to all of you on CaringBridge. 

If you have a Chandler story or memory to share, please videotape and email it to Please try to keep it short--preferably 30 seconds or so. If it's impossible for you to tell your Chandler story in such a short amount of time, you can always video your longer version and send to me directly. These short clips are for a compilation video.

Please help us get the word out. We want anyone who has a Chandler story or memory to share to be able to participate. We love hearing your Chandler stories!!!
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Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

A few days after Chandler’s accident, my friend encouraged me to start a CaringBridge site. I didn’t really want to. Now 47 days later, I am beyond grateful for her kind urging. Each day, my heart, my thoughts, my feelings, my soul, and sometimes just my musings have poured out onto my keyboard, sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in a flood. It has been healing for my heart to process in this way. 
More importantly, this has become a conversation. You have told me of your own loss, pain, grief. To hear from you that somehow my words are an encouragement or an inspiration – I truly cannot tell you what that means to me. Whatever your reason for continuing to read, I want you to know I am grateful for you. I know I’m not alone. And I see points of redemptive light through a season that can seem so very dark. 
CaringBridge has been a home, of sorts, for me -- a safe place where I return each day to write and continue our conversation. But the purpose for which CaringBridge exists has been fulfilled, and now it is appropriate to no longer use that venue for daily blogging/journaling. I am really SAD to think of leaving that home. I’m actually AFRAID to leave. But it is time. HOWEVER…
I would be honored and delighted if you would join me as our conversation continues on my website First, Brush Your Teeth -- Finding a New Normal After Losing Chandler  Thank you, Julia, for setting this up for me. Your generosity astounds me. 
I will continue posting just as I have on CaringBridge. You can subscribe to receive notifications when I post, and you can still leave comments and “like” a post. 
I’m not sure what all God is up to, but for now, I just know I need to write. Thanks for being my companion on this journey. If you know someone who could benefit from this blog, invite them to come along too.
We all experience adversity, pain, loss. Going it alone never works. We are better together.

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

I really do need to put the pictures on my phone in albums. Then I can have some illusion of control over when I come face-to-face with the realities of December 15 - January 1. Today I was scrolling through looking at pictures of my home decorating projects when my eyes landed on a picture of Chandler in his special bed that kept him immobile and automatically turned every 20 minutes. I wasn't expecting to see that today, at least not with my physical eyes.

 So many different lives during those 18 days.

 Dear God, will I ever see my son alive again? Will he make it out of surgery? What will they tell us when they come through those doors?

 He’s alive, but it’s touch and go for the next 72 hours. He will never walk again, and he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

 He’s strong enough for spinal surgery and foot repair. Hope.

 Surgeries went very well. Moving toward our new normal. We will convert our downstairs office to a bedroom and put ramps to the front door and living room. I will go with him to Craig Hospital or Casa Colina for intensive spinal rehab. We will do whatever we have to do to get him to his best life. I will probably get a call someday that he’s been injured doing a backflip off something in his wheelchair.

He’s not responding as they’d hoped. We’ll just keep praying and trying. Chandler, show us something, anything, that lets us know you are here.

No more days with Chandler. No hope for flips in a wheelchair. No more lives to live in Mission Hospital SICU Room 6.

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

*Grace and strength to get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, and go to work.

*One of my sweet kiddoes at the clinic crawled into my lap and used his words to ask for bubbles.

*Kept warm at work with a cozy neck warmer given to me by one of my Adventure Sisters -- a HUGE blessing because being cold is on my top 3 list of things I HATE.

*Met for coffee with a friend who lost her daughter last year. We both agree that we hate belonging to this club. We also agree that we believe more deeply than ever -- God is real and He is WITH US.

*Enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared with love by a long-time friend who has been with me throughout this ordeal. We sat and talked about everything -- Chandler, the loss of her dad, decorating, relationships, raising kids, and what's next. 

*The best gift of this day, thanks to Brendan...seeing my gravity-defying son do his thing on the beach. My heart.

Chandler, I miss you so much. Your flips on the beach remind me to embrace the moment. To enjoy the gifts right in front of me. To breathe deep and take it all in. 

God, thank you for the gifts I enjoyed today, each one tailored just for me.

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

Before and after. That's how my life is divided now.

Before and after December 15. That's when everything world shattered and the pieces hung, suspended in air.  

Before and after January 1. That's when the pieces came crashing down. 

Today I went shopping with a friend for some things to freshen up the house -- pillows, rugs, and such. As I do much of the time now, I found myself referring to "before all this happened" or "after Chandler was in the hospital." 

Tonight I texted my friend about a pillow color to match a beautiful rose-colored candle. I explained that the candle is special because it was given to me "after Chandler died." As soon as I typed and sent those words, my brain was assaulted. No, you can't type that! You can never take it back! Is it even real?!!!

I got home and placed some of my special things together in a new little reading nook by the stairs.

Cozy rose-colored blanket -- after December 15. Fragrant rose-colored candle, "Blessed" pillow, wool "grief" heart -- after January 1. 

Friends, and even people who don't know us, have given us so many beautiful tokens of support and love. Each time I look at one of them, my brain categorizes automatically. I don't even think about it. We received that after Chandler got hit. We received that after Chandler died. I wonder if there will come a time when typing those words does not stop me in my tracks?

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

Today I woke up with a sore throat, feeling really yucky. I drug myself out of bed because at 9:45, Chandler's alma mater and Charli's current school (SMCHS) was mentioning Chandler in their mass service. I dreaded the moment when they would say his name during the prayer for those who have departed. Then it would be more official. More real. "Chandler Espinoza, class of 2012." They said it.

I came home, sat on the couch, and cried. Then I went to work.

Once again, I found myself at the clinic saying to a young mom who had three little boys, "Oh, I have three boys...and a bonus girl!" I've decided it is just fine to say that. I'm not lying.

Before my last speech client, I got a text from Aunt Cho indicating she wished she had been able to be here to pick up Chandler's remains. I texted back, "Crap! I didn't know that was happening today!" My sweet husband had arranged to do that himself to shelter me from the pain. As Aunt Cho said, it's like an umbrella-in-a-hurricane sort of shelter. I felt punched in the gut. This made it more official. More real.

When I got home from work, the first thing I wanted to see was Chandler...what remained of his physical body. On a desk, in a clean white paper bag, was a box. Nothing in my mind could wrap itself around the reality that for 25 years, the contents of that box had been home to the spirit of a young man who inspired so many by virtue of his openness, his honesty, his sense of adventure, his playfulness, his passion for life, his generosity, his compassionate heart.

Chandler could never be put in a box. And his influence is far outside the box even now.

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

Hello, spinach smoothie. It took me four times longer than usual, and I almost cussed out loud when I couldn’t find the peanut butter. But I finally found it tucked behind the tomato sauce, hit the start button on my Vitamix, and enjoyed my first homemade spinach smoothie since December 14. A step (or in this case ten) at a time.

 Grief is not busy work. What used to be automatic takes immense energy.

 There is no formula to follow that guarantees safe and speedy exit from this tunnel. I can’t check off some things on a list today and know that I’m one day or month or year closer to feeling normal, whatever the heck that will come to mean. This is hard work that engages the very ligaments and fibers of your being, your gut, crevices in your mind you didn’t know existed.

 From The Worst Loss – “You are hard at work. Your mind is actively, intensely engaged in the hardest work that human beings must ever do: coming to terms with loss.”

 I ask myself, “Am I feeling what I’m supposed to feel? Am I crying enough? Too much? Should I be with people more? Less? Should I read more books on grief or just sit on the couch and be still?”

 Because I did everything wrong the first time around when my mom died, I am trying to lean into this process and be healthy about it. I know I have to feel the pain. But there’s a balance.

 If I just look at pictures of Chandler all day, sit in his room, read through his journal, watch his memorial video, I am afraid I will become paralyzed by the pain of losing him. I can’t take it in all at once.

 A friend will come and sit with me while I read his journal and the memorial service sign-in book. But not yet. We will eventually make his room into a bonus room. But not yet. I may take an entire day to just soak in the reality of never being able to hug my boy again. But not yet.

 I have to take it a step at a time.


Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

I haven’t had a spinach smoothie since December 14. It requires too many steps.

I love spinach smoothies. They were my go-to breakfast on my way to work for years. Frozen spinach, chia seeds, peanut butter, almond milk, coconut oil, maca powder, frozen banana, frozen blueberries, protein powder, and sometimes if I was living large, a heaping tablespoon of cacao. I don’t have the energy to do that right now.

Today I was reading a book called The Worst Loss, and it said, “The simplest tasks leave you fatigued. Chronic fatigue and exhaustion become constants…You hear yourself sighing. Breathing hurts.” The author read my mind.

So I’m trying to be gracious to myself and forego things that require too many steps. For now.

Maybe you are feeling the same. It’s OK to skip some steps. For now.



Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

I want Chandler to live on. Of course, I want him to just live and be back here with me in the flesh. But since that can't happen, I want his Chandler-ness to live on. A fourth grade boy from Mission Hills Christian School who never met Chandler captured the spirit of my son as well as anyone could. He was to write a poem for a creative writing competition, and he chose to write about Chandler, a young man he had never met but who has saturated the atmosphere around him for the past 44 days.
There was a guy I never had the chance to meet
But from the stories I’ve heard, he sounded neat
His passion for life cannot be denied 
And the light he gave off, no one could hide
Adventure was his middle name
Extreme sports was his game
Jumping off buildings and flying through the air
Something scaring the Chan Man was rare
Being athletic was a gift he had
He also knew how to cheer up people when they were sad
He had a way of making people feel like they were number one
We can’t forget that he was an amazing brother, friend, and son
I think having Chandler as a friend would’ve been great
I know that I will be able to meet him in heaven and I can’t wait
Chandler left many lessons for us to live by 
Be kind, compassionate, and in life try to fly 

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

Chip and I hung out this morning. We agreed that we both feel somewhat schizophrenic---sobbing one moment, then laughing the next. Countless people have lost loved ones. But there is only one other person besides me on this planet who knows what it's like as a parent to lose Chandler. This is our own very exclusive one but us can belong. Our initiation into this club involves oceans of tears, deep conversations about the details of Chandler's 25 years, and a mutual conviction that we would do anything on earth to have our son whole and happy with us again.

Later in the morning, I ran (literally) to the store in my brand new running shoes that Aunt Cho bought me last night at Road Runner. Moving my body keeps me sane. And new shoes -- when is that ever a bad thing?

Dear friends came to help me redecorate our bedroom. Let's just say we'd had the same decor since Martha Stewart went to prison. It makes me happy to have such amazing friends.

Speaking of amazing friends....when I got home from shopping for our bedroom, several of Chandler's friends were hanging out at the house.  I loved hearing their Chandler stories and just laughing together. 

Not one minute of this day passed when I wasn't thinking of Chandler or holding an all-too-familiar tightness in my chest because I miss him so desperately. But most minutes were spent with people who know what it's like to lose someone or who knew Chandler and feel the unique pain of not having him in their lives any more.

I'm so thankful for God's very real and practical presence in my life today demonstrated by people who care. Even when everything in me feels paralyzed with pain and fear, God puts His arms around me, and I am able to just keep rowing.

Journal entry by Lisa Espinoza

Chandler is still stable, and they are keeping him well sedated so that he doesn't get agitated and try to move--a big NO-NO until his spine is stabilized. So spine stabilization surgery was originally set for Monday. We now have a new neurosurgeon who has changed the surgery to tomorrow (Friday) at 3 pm. I will spare you the details of the drama surrounding our original neurosurgeon breaking up with us. Suffice it to say, there may have been a few utterances of the F-word involved. I won't say by whom. 

Please pray that all of Chandler's numbers stay good and stable so that surgery can take place as planned. Pray that his intracranial pressure, blood pressure, heart rate, and all his other bodily processes remain stable during surgery so that we have the best possible outcome. Pray for Chandler to be calm and to sense deep peace and the Lord's presence. 

I don't want to physically put on paper the medical prognosis we've been given. I'm not in denial. I just prefer to wait and see the outcome of the surgery and the next few days. There is medical reality, and I will accept what comes when it comes. There is also the reality of miracles. I'm praying for eyes to see and appreciate the big and small miracles every day. 

Thank you for praying with us for miracles.
Chandler’s Story

Site created on December 19, 2018

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.  Please do not donate to Caring Bridge.  We will be setting up an account for Chandler shortly.

On December 15, 2018, Chandler Espinoza was riding his BMX bike to work in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA,  around dusk.  After entering a crosswalk, he was struck by a car.   There appears to have been no reckless behavior on behalf of the driver,  who stayed at the scene.  It was just a tragic accident.

Today, Chandler is at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo in the surgical ICU.   He's completely sedated in order to keep him immobile and resting until he can undergo surgery to stabilize his spine.   A portion of his skull was removed Saturday night to relieve the pressure in his brain.   Our biggest concerns are brain function/injury and possible spinal paralysis.  

On Monday, December 24th, Chandler will have surgery to stabilize his spine.  There is a T-4 injury to that needs to be addressed.  Once they stabilize his spine, they will bring him out of sedation. That will be the point at which they will be able to assess the extent of his brain injury.  We are praying for the best possible outcome for Chandler.