40 years ago, Lou moved into a triplex off of Riverside Drive in Austin. Soon after moving in, Lou’s daughter, Shae, introduced her to Dave Seideman. After playing with his dog, the rest became history. Lou and Dave got married not long after and have been together ever since.
Together, they had three children: two girls and a boy. The youngest, their son Charlie, was like a lot of other 17-year-old boys. He loved sports and often worried his mom by sneaking out of the house and taking the family car to meet up with friends. He was 6’3’’, but he never moved the seat or changed the radio station because he was afraid of being caught. Charlie had recently gotten his own car, and life was normal until the unthinkable happened. Charlie was killed in a car-crash on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2001.
Suddenly, Lou and Dave were thrust into grief and tasked with navigating life after loss. They learned about The Christi Center through friends. “I didn’t really want to come to an AA type of meeting,” remembers Dave. “I didn’t want to come at all, but I thought Lou needed it. She didn’t want to come either, but she thought I needed it.” They agreed that they would go to at least three support group sessions and then decide if they wanted to keep coming or not.
The Seidemans ended up attending groups for many years. In fact, Dave attended groups regularly for 11 years and assisted with the Teen group, and together the couple continued to assist with The Center’s events, such as the Remembrance Service, The Kids Who Care holiday parties, and hosting retreats. “Now, most of our best friends are from The Christi Center,” says Lou.
The Seidemans agree that giving back to the community has helped them heal. “When you first come to The Christi Center, it seems like none of these people are going through the same thing you are,” says Dave. “But a lot of those people are a lot further down the road in their grief journey, and they let you know that you will be able to laugh again. It takes a while but you get to that point where you get used to the pain, but you will always miss your person. We are grateful for all the people we have met, and are grateful we can now show others that it is possible to live through it, there is hope.
In addition to their work at The Christi Center, you may know the Seidemans for their angel wings stickers. A few days after Charlie died, they noticed their youngest daughter, Kate, used her colored chalk to create a design that featured angel wings with a “C” in the center and a halo above. “We saw the design and said “Oh my gosh, we love that.’” Their oldest daughter, Shae, changed the angle wings slightly to create the final design, and Dave’s cousin helped create the stickers. Later, they produced the wings with all of the letters in the alphabet and started selling them to support The Christi Center. Today, you can still purchase the stickers at The Christi Center in honor of your loved ones.
The couple also purchased a house on Lake Buchanan in 2004 and started having weekend retreats for The Christi Center. They named it “Charlie’s Place”. A few years later, Dave built a lodge on the property from two barns brought down from his grandfather’s land in Wisconsin. The lodge features a mosaic their daughter Kate designed and made that has symbols of Charlie, including the state of Texas and 17 bluebonnet flowers.
When asked about what advice the couple would give to people new to grief, Dave thought for a moment and then answered, “The only way through grief is through it. You can’t avoid it, it’s like learning to live with a broken heart.” Lou agreed and then added, “Take it minute by minute. You can’t rush into things, it takes time. It’s really hard, and life continues to be bittersweet. Coming to The Christi Center, you meet other people who have been in similar experiences which has been so helpful.”