If you don't know the sad news about Razz (real name Chris), please go and read it now, then come back here.
I can't remember exactly how I came upon Chris, I think he started following my blog, or maybe I clicked through a comment he left somewhere. It was in January sometime. I do remember being impressed with his attitude though, although I was confused by some of the people he was talking about, particularly Ste. I wasn't sure what the relationship was, and I didn't have enough time or was too lazy to read further back in his blog. So I asked him, and he pointed me at a post which told the story of how he and Ste became best friends. It was a really touching story, but I think it has now gone from his blog, sadly.
After reading that, and more of his newer posts, I really was awestruck at what a fantastic young man he was - intelligent, mature, confident, well adjusted and with such a positive outlook and an excellent sense of fun. Not only that, but you could almost feel the love exuding from all the people he talked about - friends, lovers and family. He clearly had a profound impact on all those who knew him.
I barely knew him at all - we exchanged a very small number of mails, and had only one very brief online conversation. By this stage his treatment must have already been well underway, although I thought he 'only' had a broken leg.
With his break from blogging and the content of his posts after he returned, I, and others, were concerned that there was something a lot more seriously wrong than just the leg, particularly after his post about being depressed and scared, and the medical conference call. A short while later I mailed him, suggesting that he add Ste as blogging co-author, to help write things that maybe Chris would find difficult writing himself. Later that same day he posted 'The Scoop'.
My post that day was for him.
The discovery of his illness and the resulting life upheaval, returning from University in America, to say nothing of the treatment he endured, must have been unimaginably scary to deal with, yet he faced it with courage and determination and still kept his sense of humour.
It's good to know that Jay and Chris' other American friends were able to spend spring break in Brighton, although, my God, it must have been tough to see the physical changes in only few short months. You could feel how happy he was at being able to spend that time with his friends.
And then, only a few days later, surrounded by his loved ones, he was gone.
A new day dawns and life continues, apparently as normal, but with a Chris-shaped hole in it. Many people will be very sad at his passing, yet at the same time they will feel richer through having known him in some way.
I send my sincere condolences to Jay and Chris' American friends and housemates; to Ste and Cate and, of course, to Chris' parents, sister, relations and other friends. I can only imagine the grief you must feel. My heart goes out to you.
It always seems desperately unfair that someone as young as Chris should pass, but also very unfair that people as young as Jay, Ste and the others should have to deal with this level of grief at their age.
I didn't know Chris well enough to know what he would have wanted, but I suspect he would not have wanted people to grieve for too long, and would rather they celebrated his life. From what I could see, there was plenty to celebrate.
And so, Good People, the next time you've got a drink, raise your glass and give a nod to Chris. Give thanks as we remember the life he had, and think of the special people who are left behind.
God bless you Chris, may your spirit continue to have a positive influence on all you touch
from Brighton Pier, April 19th 2009
from Brighton Pier, April 19th 2009
I think it's only right that Chris himself should have the final words in this tribute:
"i’ve just had a bit of time to think and reflect, and i came to realise that up to this point, i’ve actually lived the life that i wanted. and that’s what makes it perfect. that makes me happy."
be at peace