I have not been shy about discussing the past couple of years of my life on ATS, or anywhere else for that matter. That means that many of you are
familiar with the journey I went through during that period. For those who are unfamiliar the low point came in late September of 2013 when I found
myself, for the first and only time ever, in a "mental health crisis center", having had a nervous breakdown.
It was there that I met a man named Christopher Lewis.
He was a rather large guy with blue eyes and pattern baldness. He was quiet and it took him a few days to come out of his shell.
If one had not experienced it, it is difficult to explain that sort of environment. It is a very emotionally intimate environment with an average stay
of 5-10 days. It is like living life in fast forward sort of. The people who, on your first day, seem to know all the ropes and rules disappear almost
too fast for them to teach you about how to get by. One day you're the newbie and the next you're the veteran. The day after that you get to be the
one that disappears.
Chris came in a day ahead of me but we walked out of the door together. The two of us, both headed for a group facility that offered help for people
who were down and did not have functional or healthy family support systems.
We walked out of one set of doors, together, veterans - and through the next, both novices again. We went through the learning curve all over again,
each relying upon the other for moral support and some semblance of normalcy.
Over the next 12 months Chris and I remained close. A third friend entered the circle and everyone began referring to us as the three musketeers. We
ate at the same table, we always watched TV together, left the property together. Although Chris and the third person ( I am not naming because I am
not sure he would want me to ) had more in common and became closer - we were all still brothers and that is how we referred to one another - as
Chris and I walked in the front door of that place, him sure he was Superman, and me totally convinced that I was dying - literally. I felt awful and
he felt great.
Over the course of the year we both finally got access to doctors and it turns out that, physically, I am in exceptionally good health - despite a
heart condition I was born with. My bloodwork was perfect. My blood pressure was perfect. My everything kept coming back perfect. In fact I was told,
over and over again, that I have the vitals and labwork of a teenager.
Chris, on the other hand, had a different experience. He was actually complaining that they were wasting money sending him off for a physical. He was
a big, robust, strong, healthy guy. He was indignant about having to go to the doctor.
He came back diagnosed with liver cancer.
Every subsequent visit found him returning with more and more illnesses and issues being tacked onto his chart. But there was a lot of optimism. He
was getting medical care and they were getting ready to start a round of chemo when I walked out. Chris was told his tumor was small and that he had
nothing to worry about or fear.
On the last day of September, of this past year, just a week or so shy of my one year anniversary, I got out of the group home. I said my goodbyes and
In the interim I allowed my cell phone to lapse because I was not happy with my service provider. It never occurred to me that this would put me out
of touch with anyone - as I am easy to find online. I never really got motivated to deal with the phone issue. Not having one wasn't bothering me, so
I was in no hurry to jump back into a monthly bill for something I would barely use.
As I was headed to bed, about an hour ago, I did what I always do out of habit. I checked my Facebook page to make sure neither of my kids had tried
to reach me. They had not. But the third unnamed person had.
He said he'd been trying to find me for over a month.
Chris died Thanksgiving day. I do not yet know what killed him. Cancer? Depression? An accident? I just don't know.
What I do know is that one of the few people I have ever truly trusted and loved in this world is gone. He and I shared an experience that few ever do
and we held each other up through it. For a solid year we were part of a three man team that made sure nobody in the group went without. We gave what
we had when one of the others did not have. We always had each others backs.
I wrote, I think at least, a few months ago about my roommate in that community home, Bennie and his passing. That stung, Bennie was a great guy - but
he was not like a brother. Chris was.
The truth be told - Chris and Bennie aren't the only ones. Three other people died during my year in that group home. One on site, and two who had
just transitioned out. They refer to it as "the curse" and apparently a lot of people end up dying their first few months away. This point I want to
drive home for all of the social Darwinists in the audience. These people aren't dying because they're weak or stupid or lazy. They are being killed
by poverty and the woes that follow along.
Forty-five years old is too damned young to die. Too young for a big, health conscious person to simply be gone. Too young for one of the few truly
honest men I have ever met to no longer be with us.
Today my world is a much smaller place.
Wait for me wherever you are, my friend. I'll see you when the day comes for me to get there. I love you brother.
It's never easy to lose a loved one and I believe you had a love for your friend. Few people ever get to experience what it's like to be down and
out not knowing where to turn or who to trust and Chris obviously helped you through a rough patch in your life and helped you overcome your demons.
May he be in a better place and getting to be the Superman he believed he was.
You made me shed a tear and reflect on my life and appreciate even more those who helped me in my times of need and I thank you for that.
Best wishes to you heff.
May I suggest that you do for someone else, what he did for you. You can give him no greater honor than to help others in their time of need. Sounds
to me like they are big shoes to fill though.
No words I can say can change the way you feel, Heff...but I send my Compassion your way regardless. It's hard, but try to keep your head up, okay?
The people on this screen might just be flashes of pixels to most but there is genuine caring and emotion behind posts on threads like this one and
your loss is the world's loss.
Your words are light years away from "stupid" as your title states. They are some of the most moving ones I have read on these boards in the decade
plus I have read.
edit on 4-1-2015 by the owlbear because: (no reason given)
Heff, I am so sorry for your loss. His spirit has escaped his mortal body but he is not gone. Those are not comforting words I suppose but meant to
convey that he is still with you and I do believe fully aware of your love and brotherhood. You are still strong together.
I had a similar incident just six months ago. A dear woman I considered to be like a second mother. Over time grandchildren appeared in her world and
we knew where each other was but just were so busy, I with my child and she with her beloved grandchildren. Then I heard she had passed. I felt lost
for a bit but I know how much she knew that I loved her and I know how much she loved me and it comforted me and I know our love for each other never
But it does leave one with a feeling of - how did a person just leave this earth without my being aware in any way?
I can't take away your sorrow, but I can tell you that you are in my thoughts and heart. I am so sorry that you have to go this this Heff. I am sure
that you touched your friend's life just as deeply as he has touched yours. I believe that he is in a better place, one we will all go to some day.
Gentle hug for you dear man.
I just got off of the phone with the unnamed third friend. He said that he'd invited Chris to his families house for Thanksgiving ( it was not an
inpatient kind of place. We were allowed to leave on visits or vacations if we could ). The third friend said that Chris was feeling good and was
happy when he went to sleep.
The next morning the third friend went to wake Chris up to start smoking the turkey and ham and Chris was laying with his arms crossed and a grin. He
wouldn't wake. He was cold.
Long story short - cause of death, cardiac arrest.
I don't know if it makes sense or not, but knowing that he died in his sleep, smiling ( I guess dreaming good things ) without suffering or in pain
helps a lot.
And thank you all for your kind words. I truly do appreciate them.
It's truly difficult to find words to explain how deeply friendships form in that kind of place - it's like a band of brothers sort of thing.
There's nobody else who cares so you bond and that bond is real and true. A brotherhood that you don't betray because it is all you've got.
Ah, the dance of living souls has little to do with the bodies they inhabit,.....At least that is what ive come to believe.....
And those we find closest to us, will be found again further down the timeline.....Change is the only constant......so don't let the now of it get
you down .....Many of us feel your pain.....remember that suffering is optional.....s
ahh no.. I'm so sorry Heff. Your words are beautiful and truly expressed the deep and fast friendship that formed between you. I've never
found the right words to express such a tearing loss.. perhaps there are none.
It is comforting knowing he passed sleeping and with a grin, maybe he was let in on some cosmic secret on his journey.
Heartfelt condolences and hugs to you Heff
Terribly sorry for your loss.....it's never easy losing someone we loved....Sounds like he was an awesome guy, and he touched your heart when you
needed it most, and you touched his too. I'll say a prayer for him tonight, and maybe he will visit you in your dreams for one last smile, and one
last goodbye. I'm truely sorry for your loss.
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