Not like this.
That’s what Dylan Mackey, a student at Rogers Middle School in Affton, said as he walked uphill up to the school basketball courts. Sure, it’s the end of summer, and school starts in a week. He expected to be here soon. Just not now, not like this.
At the top of the hill, Mackey joined a crowd of more than 100 gathered to honor Christopher Marks, the 12-year-old Rogers student found dead this week in the Meramec River. Perched on lawn chairs and holding back tears, the group applauded each time a child, teacher, parent or friend took the microphone to share a memory of Christopher.
“I know he was someone you could trust,” Dylan told the group when it was his turn to take the mic. “I know he was someone you could look up to.”
As the sun set behind the school building, attendees put on glow bracelets, a family-friendly (and drought-friendly) alternative to candles. But Kathy Brooks, Christopher’s Cub Scout den leader, gave the bright yellow, blue and pink glowing bracelets a special significance.
Sleeping alone in a tent on a camping trip can be scary, Brooks said, so each night, when the fire went out, her cub scouts hung glow bracelets by their heads for comfort and bravery.
“Chris was such a brave boy,” Brooks said. “If he knew you were scared and sad, he would reach out to you.”
Before one weeklong camping trip, Christopher’s mother Elizabeth Combs said her son—like any other pre-teen in front of his friends—didn’t want to kiss her goodbye. Brooks refused to leave until Christopher kissed his mother, Combs said, and now, she only wishes she’d done the same before he left for the last time Sunday.
“When your mom and dad say, ‘Give me a kiss before you leave,’ you kiss them,” she said. “I don’t care how big of a boy you are. I didn’t get to kiss him goodbye…and that’s the one think I will never forget.”
Find more about Christopher's disappearance and death in Patch's past coverage.