In Memory of Clayton Sechrist
February 1, 1980 to February 20, 1996
Words that family and friends used to describe Clayton......artist... gifted...smart... humble...funny... special...prankster...shy...quiet...respectful...fun-loving...a character...friend...gentle...kind... humorist...helpful...and the most used..."creative".
Tupperwear lids being train wheels as a toddler, paper clip sculptures, unusual guitar music, original cartoons and drawings...all equal Clayton...creative Clayton. Clayton had his own unique way of doing things and living in this world. We will always miss you Clayton...your beautiful smile... your laughter...your zest for life.
Clayton's final gift on this earth was organ donation. 42 people are living healthier lives as a result. The heart recipient said, "When people ask me where my heart came from, I tell them it's a gift from God. It is! It came from one of God's angles."
Watch over us Clayton.
Other Memories of Clayton
Music is an expression of someone's soul, something as spiritual as one's personal faith. Anyone who has found himself or herself following a creative path will attest to the long hours, and sometimes struggle, associated with attaining their musical and artistic goals. Clayton was one of those people, a creative young man on a journey that only music can take you on. We would regularly joke about the fact that each week, as his lesson began, he would have to retune his guitar due to his fondness for experimenting with what are referred to as alternate tunings, tunings often used by musicians to break free of musical cliché's. Musically, Clayton was a tinkerer of sorts. He liked to explore different musical ideas, tunings, effects processing, rhythm, and even noise to create a musical landscape. Much like many well known guitarists, I believe Clayton saw music more in shades of color than in notes or theoretical concepts. Clayton and I studied many varied topics together, the music of Hendrix, discussions and exercises about jazz and blues, songs by bands from Sonic Youth to Nirvana. Clayton seemed to approach each idea with the same level of enthusiasm.
I will always remember him, not only as I have lost a good student, but also because I have lost a fellow guitarist and, a good friend. Mostly I will miss his laugh, a laugh I heard quite often as I described the more amusing side of being a working musician. He and I shared a lot of laughs and a lot of music along the way, and Clayton will always remind me of why I teach. I ask the Lord to bring Clayton into his grace, and to keep him till we meet again.
and life goes on,
yet the path is rough and hard to follow.
the questions, never ending
and never answered.
why, why him, what next;
thanks for taking my best friend.
and Faith is needed to survive,
yet Faith is a distant friend; though the door's been open I had walked on.
too many questions, too much left unanswered.
depression joined by too much anger;
the thoughts to join him have entered my mind,
it'd be so simple so quick... and so wrong.
more pain would come, for others.... maybe.
and I'd be a coward.
suicide sucks, my best friend told me so himself.
to live for him is an honor 1 have accepted
….and life goes on......
Thoughts About Clayton
Ann, thank you for asking me and giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts about Clayton and his art spirit. On behalf of the other art students and myself, we feel privileged to have spent our times together begin creative, doing the thing we most love.
Clayton was truly gifted. His talent came from within. For a young artist like Clayton, he always strived to be completely original. In this time of life for Clayton, he explored his artistic gifts with passion. Even when Clayton was blocked, even when he was having difficulty expressing his ideas, he never gave up, he always had the patience to work through it.
We remember you Clayton, your tousled wavy hair, your dark blue long-john top, your tennis shoes peeking out. We can't remember you not smiling. Shy and quiet and respectful, but you always managed to not miss any of the camaraderie. We miss you, we miss your humor, and we miss your presence in our lives.
Clayton, how do I tell our friends today what art is, what it means to us, why we are going to miss the possibilities of your creativity? Stopwatch moments stunned by God's handiwork, manna for thought, fingerprints from the creator! The by-product of our souls being filled to overflowing, seeing the divine in human kind and nature; to catch an echo of God's eternity in a flickering star. How foolish of me, Clayton you are doing these things right now. You are wearing your dark blue long-sleeved top, the label says God's own, because that is the only label in heaven.
On this plane Clayton, you ached to communicate your deepest thoughts, to reap a flowering of your abilities, another aspect of yourself. Yesterday, Michelle came by and Elliott and Kim. Michelle brought you a bud because it is almost spring and some ancient angel with gentle giant hands took you now from this physical world like the bud just so full of promise. And your beautiful artist's eyes see now the spiritual eyes and now it is your springtime and you are blossoming. The moving ingredient in God's timer is sifting you with grace into everlasting life.
Everyone here in this holy place today is bound by the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of friendship, the spirit of hope and faith. We all stand here now in the middle of our own gifts, and own talents. It is as if the gates of heaven have opened and the perfumed light of worlds past, present, and future sing on a tender breeze to guide us each on our sacred paths. Clayton, you are quiet still and see how we are all responding to you! You are a miracle in our lives with profound consequences. You are my angel now, like the roots of heaven, it is called faith. And in your passing, it is a force that pulls me like a great oak tree listening with every leaf stirred and moved by the whisper of God.
Clayton, your young friends here saw you as innocent and fun-loving, self-effacing and kind, and now they are grieving. It is difficult when life is perilous and meager and joyless but we know in our hearts this is the reality of the outside transient ever turning wheel of time. We all remember being suspended on the ferris wheel, stuck, not in control, artist's block. Help us God with this test. Clayton, we want to commemorate your sojourn with us. We want our work and gifts to be a blessing to others like yours Clayton have been for us.
Clayton, you have become like the child who is father to the man and the mother to the woman. Help us to see with spiritual eyes, God. Give us the gift of Clayton Sechrist's art spirit.
We artists wish Clayton's Mom and Dad and Brother and loved ones and friends peace of mind and comfort, direction and hope. Clayton we have all been touched by the beauty of your presence short but rich in our lives.
I see you, Clayton Sechrist as one white perfect column that fell from this life, before you held up the sky for us and part of our lives, now you have fallen from this world and the pieces have risen up like a thousand cooling doves with silk threads pulling our hearts to have that most important virtue of courage to help along all the rest.
Saying goodbye is a sweet sadness because I've been filled with the confections of your loving company, a lingering taste, emptied with the last moments of being in your presence. Oh Clayton, you have become my teacher now. God bless all of the young people who have been touched by Clayton. In closing, this poem I wrote called My Precious Angels expresses that though our lives change as the seasons, God is constant through-out eternity. God is as close as our faith and so is Clayton.
MY PRECIOUS ANGELS
In the summer of heaven
the angels shed
A downy snow for souls
and the winter halos
Warm their heads
glowing in the cold.
When the budding wings
of spring sow the greens
Of growing , through to fall
they gather all and
Beat their hearts to overflowing.
Deep in my skin
They breathe me in
their frost can melt
The following clips were taken from an article that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution which was titled - "Organ Donations Pass on Love of Life"
Email Clayton's Family
Background Music - "Another Brick in the Wall" - Eric Clapton
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