This afternoon I will be on my way to the visitation for my friend Chris. He died on Saturday, a month before his 56th birthday. He died from a pulmonary embolism. There was nothing that could stop it.
We met just before fourth grade, when we moved into a house across the street and three doors down. We played street football and backyard snow football and Stratego and Dogfight. He taught me poker. I took him to work at a camp. He was my Catholic friend. I was his evangelical friend. He was the high school choir president. I was the band president.
We went to different schools, different grad schools. We met for coffee between terms at JoJos. I had the peasant lunch: French onion soup, cheddar cheese, apple slices. I can’t remember what Chris had. I just can’t see it.
In 1982, Chris and Nancy and I went out to JoJos. It was the first time she met him. Chris and I talked with our usual stream of consciousness. Nancy was a little scared, not of Chris, but of a side of me she had never seen. But she stayed. Chris was my best man. I was his.
A few years later we visited Chris and Mary. I talked about my dissertation. I told him that I really liked the Vatican II documents I’d studied. He smiled.
My friends know I’m not good at staying current. Even in a Facebook age, we didn’t stay in touch more than every couple years. You know how it is. And I’m not sure that it’s wrong. Our lives change.
But I know that it would be wrong to let him go without telling someone that my life was changed by Chris Coulomb. Because it means yours has been, too.