We went on an epic road trip as a family in the summer of 2004. We drove 10.5 hours the first day and ended up in Boise, Idaho for night.
We found a Super 8 or something and fell into bed.
This photo was taken the next morning which came too soon. I just love this picture. It says it all. Chris not wanting to have anything to do with the morning and Max chomping down some cereal in a sleep filled haze. As per the Christmas Tree vid (2009), Randy taking pictures and Ingrid somewhere asking where her help was…!
Those road trips were epic. Got yours planned for the summer?
I was at the bank the other day dealing with Chris’ account. It’s one of many things you have to ‘take care of’.
My bank rep was very understanding and kind.
She shared with me a story of loss in her own family and then described how she had processed and proceeded to the future. She called it THE NEW NORMAL.
I really like that term. Nothing will ever be the same. There is no such thing as normal. Every day for the rest of our lives we will remember. However, we need to continue living…and more than that we need to continue to live with purpose, desire and a sense of urgency to help shape the world (through people) in a positive way.
Short-term, that means we’ll focus on the Chris Friesen Memorial Award and providing young lacrosse playing SFU students a chance to concentrate more on their sport and studies through this fund…with the purpose of challenging them to make the world a better place.
Their challenge will be to Be The Best.
We’re not sure what the future holds exactly, but we choose to live with purpose.
Firstly, let me say that going through the loss of a teenager is brutal. People have called us strong and positive and we ARE aiming to make positive decisions and we will. But the underlying fact that we’ve lost our child will of course never go away. One major thing that is helping us however, is that we did not have many regrets about how we lived. It’s not that we didn’t have busy work lives and professional lives, but we made sure we had fun and spent a lot of time together. Take Chris’ 12th birthday. We modified his morning cereal box to include a message about a ‘free gift’.
We then inserted a ‘gift card’ telling him about a new bike waiting for him. He would be devastated to think I would ever show these pictures, but if you stick around, I’ll show you some more!
So we have a very simple act that parents have repeated thousands of times the world over…buying a bike for their kid. The only change we made was to turn a simple act into an event. It didn’t cost a lot of money. It really didn’t take that much time….but what it did do was create a memory and experience. These were the experiences that Max, Chris, Ingrid and I would laugh about and in fact during Ingrid’s birthday dinner on March 22, we laughed many times sharing stories about family activities, adventures and misadventures.
My point (yes, I’ll get there eventually) is that creating memories and experiences doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. The payoff, however, is simply priceless.
When my nephew Steve and his wonderful wife Meggan were contacted about Chris’ passing, I did not expect them to be at my doorstep 24 hours later. Not because they wouldn’t want to, it’s just that they live in Charleston, South Carolina and Steve was consulting in the New York area at the time. Multiple planes and over 5,000 km later, they were in our Langley home (near Vancouver, BC) helping us deal with events as they were unfolding. Steve’s dedication to the eulogy videos was incredible. Meggan did everything from dishes to vacuuming to listening and supporting and everything else in between.
On Saturday they had to leave for home. After 3 more planes and a long day of travel, Steve ‘rested’ for 8 hours before jumping on yet another plane for an entire week of consulting work in New Jersey. Tired yet? Not Steve. He has helped me immensely this week with patches and logos for lacrosse stickers and jersey patches and even had time to create the desktop background you see above…(picture taken at his hotel workstation).
People constantly ask us how we are doing. If the situation was reversed, we would do the same. It’s part of being human. My first answer was, “we’re doing ok…a day at a time”. I changed that to, “an hour at a time”. I then came to the realization that neither a week, day, hour or minute at a time was really what was happening.
Time by itself was curing nothing. It certainly helps to dull the ache maybe a little (or not), but just time by itself was not working. What is helping, however, is the amazing power to make decisions. I’ve changed my answer and so has Ingrid and Max too. Ask us how we’re doing. We’ll probably tell you, “We’re moving forward, one DECISION at a time”. The cool thing about a decision is that you control it. It is exceptionally empowering. We’ve made decisions about how we would work as a family unit, how we would help others (via ChristianFriesen.com) and how we would help each other through the passing of Chris and the unknown that lies ahead.
Thanks for standing with us. How are we doing? We’ll get there…one decision at a time!
The generosity of people in the past 13 days has been amazing and remarkable. My sister Grace took on the major task of organizing food for the 500-800 people we felt may attend Chris’ service. As the phone calls, emails, Facebook page kept building, we realized that we could have over 1,000 people at the funeral. As it turned out over 1,500 attended for which our family is so amazingly grateful. It was simply stunning. More on that later, but back to the food! Grace made some calls and things snowballed. Companies like Tracy Cakes, Kin’s Farm Market, The Butler Did It Catering, and colleagues from BCIT all came forward in a huge way. Staff from Wardell chopped and cut vegetables for 6 hours straight. So many individual families, lacrosse moms, relatives, church groups and complete strangers (friends of friends of friends) kept providing food and wanting to help. I am probably missing some because even those I mentioned weren’t looking for shout-outs…I just know who you are and we are humbled by your support!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
Chris loved to eat. Just last month we had come home from work and noticed the frying pan on the stove. We asked
him what he had eaten after school. “Nine eggs”, was his nonchalant reply. After the funeral service, we were delighted to see hungry teenagers eat and talk and mingle…(oh and maybe text…that’s what they do!). Here’s where the story gets even more interesting. There was enough food that we needed to call in the Salvation Army. Additionally, we brought food home to feed family and friends at the house, but even that was too much so we made contact with an organization that takes food to Vancouver’s downtown eastside. But yet another twist. My sister Grace who started all this, went home to Vernon and made soup from vegetable leftovers. She knew of a Grandma (unrelated) in Vernon who had just returned from Prince George and a family funeral of her own. Her grandson had lost his life serving with our Canadian forces in Afghanistan. Grandma’s favourite soup? Cream of celery. What soup had Grace made? I think you know.
The generosity of people was overwhelming. I wanted to tell you that beyond feeding hungry teenagers and the masses of supporters who stood with us on April 1, that spirit of generosity fed literally hundreds of the poorest and hungriest around us and provided a moving connection with a Grandma suffering a family loss in Vernon.
We will simply never understand the extent of our actions. Be The Best. Another amazing example of what that means. Go change the world, one bowl of soup at a time!
I did not trust myself to complete the eulogy ‘live’ at the service, so I decided to write the eulogy (working with Ingrid (amazing wife) and Max (18 yr old son)) and then with the incredible effort of my nephew Steve Lacoursiere, this 18 minute production was developed. (2 videos below) I must mention that Max insisted on being involved in the narration, a decision that I deeply respect and cherish. That kid has been a rock. Max I love ya.
I completely understand that Chris’ passing causes questions about ‘who was that kid?’, ‘who is that family?’.
We want the world to understand that Chris Friesen was a passionate person who was also a perfectionist. He was his own worst critic. At its best, that pushed him to the next level, constantly raising the bar. At its worst, he would get mad at himself (you’ll hear the story about his driving exam) when he didn’t achieve the level of success he felt he should.
On March 25, 2010, Chris had a car accident driving out of the school parking lot in which he hit a fence with the car and sustained damage to the vehicle, but it was still drivable. The impact of this one event was massive for Chris. You’ll understand more if you have watched every video in The Back Story – part 1 and the full and complete videos below. Chris wanted to Be The Best. Chris, your passion WILL fuel us!