Tuesday, August 7, 2007

David's Tribute to Chris

This heartfelt and beautiful eulogy was delivered by David, one of Chris' closest friends and his Best Man.

Chris was my best friend. We were soul mates. "Soul brothas" he would probably say. We often joked about being brothers separated at birth. The fact that I am 4 months younger than Chris makes this a certain impossibility. We both grew up as sick children, me with my juvenile arthritis and Chris with his condition. We were self-motivated achievers that surprised and astounded our parents. And despite growing up as outsiders we shared a deep love for our own families and for humanity.

Chris and I were drawn together over many shared interests, not the least of which was an equal passion for music. Music is the shorthand for emotion. It can express the inexpressible. And as we all know, Chris was always trying to express the inexpressible. He was the only one I knew who could out-talk, out-analyze, out-categorize anyone on a subject he felt truly passionate about. He could go toe to toe with you on anything, because he had the brain, the heart and passion to match. Some are blessed with one of these talents, but Chris had all three in glorious abundance.

Chris had so many sides to him. He could at one moment talk about the most serious subjects and the next be a complete goof. I never quite understood where this came from. My inner goof is so badly underdeveloped. But Chris had a profound understanding of opposites as a natural law of the universe. "Without orange there is no blue." Without light there is no dark, without day there is no night. Without death, there is no life. Death brings meaning to life. Chris always knew this. He was given an early expiration date on his life, and that made all the difference in how he chose to live. He lived life to its fullest. He burned bright, with passion, with knowledge and most importantly with Love, because he knew on a deeper level than any of us, life's most precious value.

In the words of Tolstoy: "Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world."

I was there when Sandra entered Chris' life. I saw a spark in him light and become increasingly brighter through the years. I was honoured to be part of Chris and Sandra's wedding day last fall and rejoice in such a happy time for such a truly amazing couple. Sandra brought out the very best in Chris. They were a perfect match of opposites and this only strengthened over time. Recently I saw their relationship blossom even more as they continued to plan a future together. There is no doubt in my mind that Chris was at his happiest right at the end. And of course, Sandra had everything to do with this.

We are all struggling with the sudden, unexpected, unfair loss of such a wonderful and unique person. As I grieve with you, I'm also as a friend, rejoicing right now for Chris. Rejoicing in the way he left the world, full of life, full of hopes, full of dreams, and full of love. His heart was so full it literally burst.

He protected us so often from the realities of his sickness. He accepted his fate, but he didn't want us to dwell in that world. He wanted us to live life. He used to tell me that he hated being called a hero. He just wanted to be. Day after day, week after week he would go into dialysis and see his future staring back at him. He knew what lay ahead. We all had hopes for him, but he did not shy away from the cold hard facts. He dreaded the deathbed scenario, wasting away, thinking not only what it would do to him and his spirit, but what it would do those closest to him. If he had one wish, it would have been to leave the world in a blaze of happiness, in a blaze of hope, in the arms of his beloved. For all he did for the world, and for us, the universe gave him this very special reward.

I used to tease Chris about his sometimes cheesy taste in music. He didn't shy away from things that were over the top. Give him a 12-minute large anthematic rock song and he was in his glory. If it was sung in falsetto by an Icelandic singer all the better. He would sit on the edge of his seat and point out places of crescendo, drumming passionately as the guitars and music swelled to even higher heights. With Chris there were no limits. He would air drum or air guitar his way to the final chord, smiling, happy and at one with the universe. I like to think of him now, that way, and think that this is how he played out his last days with Sandra and with the rest of us.

If Chris could speak to us now, I'm sure he would like to use the words of Shakespeare's Puck, featured in Chris favourite film Dead Poet's Society:

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends."

* * *

Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.

Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.

Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:

And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.

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