Saturday, November 26, 2005

Remembering Chris:
(Mournful musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Last night, I did not sleep more than an hour (if even that) due to a phone message I received about my friend Chris. We were five months apart in age and back in the days when titles such as "best friend" were used, he was my best friend. And the phone call was to say that Chris died the day before Thanksgiving in a hospital in Arizona. Pardon me if what I am about to write is disjointed...I am working off of virtually no sleep and because of the news from last night, my mind may not be clear. (Certainly my emotions are not stable as I write this.) Nonetheless, a few facts about my old friend seem particularly apropo at this time; ergo that is what I am about to set down in this post.

I am still in contact with some friends from school I have known since eighth grade I talk with a few times a week as I do with one I have known since fifth grade. (The latter currently lives in California and was the author of the most recent guest editorial to this weblog.) Another friend I have known since first grade is still someone I am in touch with on and off and we have recently started talking again after a lapse of time in contact with one another. (Though we hardly saw one another at all for most of the 1990's and the new millennium except for 2004.) But Chris was my oldest friend -both of those I still considered friends as well as in reality.

Chris was born in Canada but had American parents; thus he had "dual citizenship." He was also born with a hole in his heart and had to have heart surgery as an infant to survive. (If memory serves, he was one of the first people to survive the kind of heart surgery he received at so young an age.) He and I knew one another since before preschool. There was about a four year period very early in my life when Chris and I saw one another seemingly on a daily basis (from the ages of five through eight). We got into more than our share of trouble of course and had a few personality quirks in common which probably explains why we generally got along. (I say "generally" because we also fought a lot too.)

When I was in my eighth year, Chris' family moved to Arizona because of Chris' problems with the moist climate of Washington State. I would see him in the summer months of second grade after that and he moved back here for the third grade school year and the summer. After that, his family moved again to Arizona and we only saw one another on rare occasions...he might come up for a couple of days or a week in the summer or something like that: a pattern that continued throughout grade school but ceased sometime around junior high if memory serves. We both for that reason grew up apart from that point on but every time we would run into one another, two things were in common: (i) the visits were never very long for various reasons including "time constraints" and (ii) it was like putting on an old pair of shoes. We did not fight anymore but that could probably be chalked up to getting older and realizing without verbalizing it something I spoke about in a recent audiopost viz. the scarcity of time. And while so much more could be noted than this (and I may do that if so inclined in the coming months), what is noted there will have to do for now.

Chris and I went for the better part of the 1980's and 1990's without seeing each other more than a few times...though in recent years that was starting to change a bit. The last three times I saw him were in 2001, 2002, and 2003 -the first was shortly after my father's funeral and the other two times were about a year apart from one another. The last time we spent probably four or five hours together talking about many things including old times. He had moved back to Washington State and was living in Everett in 2003. Unfortunately, I was still coming out of the throes of the tsunami of family deaths and other tragedies (circa 2000-2003 mostly) and was not inclined for a while to go out of my way to see anyone.

Sometime in 2004, he had gotten an artificial valve put into his heart and had additional problems with his health which resulted in him being flown back to Washington for his sister Michelle to look after as his health was not good. (I learned this from a newsletter that his sister sends myself she is in the real estate field.) As one who was going through business realignments in that period, I chalked up my failure to go see him to just that: not enough time. He had not taken very good care of himself for some time and even did not quit smoking after his heart valve replacement as he should have. (Whether he stopped drinking or not I do not know.) But my reasoning was that Chris had always been a tough old bird and that I would be able to see him "tomorrow" or "someday" when things had gotten more stabilized on many other fronts (both mine as well as his). I say this because it was true but I am also not making excuses for my negligence: I could have gone out of my way on a few occasions but I did not do it and for the life of me I cannot figure out why.

I have had in mind for a while to see several people I have not spent much time with in recent years in the coming year (2006). And while I still intend to do that; nonetheless, I am hardly saying something original in noting that we all have those people whom we are close to who for a variety of circumstances we do not see much of over what can be a long stretch of years. Of course when this thought comes to our minds, many of us defend ourselves by saying that we will get back in touch with them "someday." Well, one of the first people on that list (if not the first) was to be my oldest friend Chris. But he died before I could do that and I will be asking myself for a long time when I think of him what I could have done there anything I could have set aside as truly less important to focus on what truly was more important.

One would think after all the family deaths in recent years that I would have gotten over putting friends and family aside as I did with my oldest friend. I told myself that I would see Chris "next year" aka "someday" and just because it was supposed to be next year does not remove the beam from my eye. For as John Fogarty once wrote in an old Creedence Clearwater Revival song:

Well, I'm here to tell you now, each and every mother's son,
That you better learn it fast, you better learn it young,
'Cause someday never comes.

I am profoundly sorry Chris...that I did not make that "someday" I was planning to see you again happen a long time ago. I will always cherish the many memories of our times together. May you rest in peace and it is my hope that we will meet again in a world beyond this valley of tears.

From left to right: Sarge, Chris DiSomma (d. 11/23/05) and Shawn McElhinney (circa a long time ago).

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

It seems since this thread was posted that someone was sending some of the links below to other people using my email addresses and misrepresenting it as if I sent those links to them. For the record, I did not do so. Therefore, whomever did send them, kindly do not do so in my name or with my email address in the future please.