When a friend dies

My friend Chris Albee will be gone from this life four months the 20th of this month; the tears are streaming down my face right now as I write. I am only one of a number of people whose lives were — and I do not use this word lightly — blessed by his presence. He died from t-cell lymphoma.

Some times at night, during the day, it doesn’t matter, the knowledge he has died will strike hard, my fists will clench and I want punch death square in the face with savage fury — again and again and again. Chris was only 49! He had a wonderful wife and family, he had a nine year old son!

It is so hard to find people in life you know you are safe being yourself with. I was always safe with Chris and he would be the first to tell you he was safe being himself with me.

I cannot change the reality of his loss. What I can do is tell you this. Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell them. Tell your children, tell your parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins; tell your friends, tell the person you are in a relationship with. Say it! Tell them. And please, remember to hug those you love, and let them hug you back. Be kind, be kind, be kind. And if you are in possession of behavior patterns that wound yourself and others, do your best to get free of them. There is little doubt they may have kept you safe at one time, but maybe not so much now.

If there is a heaven, Chris is there. I have no doubt of it because if there is a heaven, he damn well deserves to be there.

I love you, Chris.

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For Kim & Joshua

 

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Break for freedom – Day 15 (Chris Albee)

Day – 15 Friday, August 25, 2017  (Chris Albee)

Today is the first in a third week of solo walks for me. These walks would not be happening at all were it not for my late friend, Chris Albee. Chris died this July 20 at age 49 from a sudden, ruthless, fast-growing mass in his brain. I’ve known no one who exceeds Chris’s honor, humility, loyalty, and love for family and friends. For those of us with disabilities; it is well worth noting it would never cross his mind to experience any one of us as someone of less value or import than others.

These solo walks are the first time in more than three decades I’ve gone for walks in a community without, what for me, feels like protection, for more than 30 years, started when Chris was alive. I took my first solo walk on July 12. I told him what I’d done and I told him I’d done it because I was unable to climb inside him and join him in his fight, and I had to lash out at something, and I thought the crippling fear that made a solo walks feel impossible was a target in need of pulverizing. I also told him that were it not for him, I wouldn’t have tried. My voice broke a couple of times.

When I finished, his response was a muscular, loving, “Oh man, that’s so cool, Pete.” He meant it. He was my friend. In my heart, he always will be.

7:58 a.m. – Back home.

If you’ve been an athlete or dancer you know you can go into a task feeling great, sure you will dance beautifully, or cover a 20-mile training run with so much gusto you stop, legs astride, fists jammed into your hips, scowling at the reality the run wasn’t 20 miles longer one. Thing is, if you’ve been an athlete or a dancer you know damn well the aforementioned scenario is a load of rubbish. You never know what the experience is going to be until you’re in it. I felt great going out the door this morning, which may well explain why the entire was intensely uncomfortable; breathing and stride patterns felt out of sync, sweat poured like it did earlier in these walks.

How did I manage this? I accepted it, offered myself guidance-phrases like, Stay in the walk; if it’s uncomfortable, allow this discomfort, and keep going. And so I did.

I miss you, Chris.

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For Joshua Albee