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Be The Best.

Silver skies and Silver stars.

Medical update: My sister Grace was discharged from hospital and is home. Great news! Dad continues in ICU. He had a stable day and Docs are cautiously optimistic.  Things will continue to be day by day.  THANKS for all the continued thoughts and prayers and connections as we travel these interesting roads!

I can’t come up to Vernon without thinking about skiing.  A couple of weeks back when we went up the hill before the medical issues escalated.  It was a fantastic time for a number of reasons.  I had a great day with Max and his girlfriend Kiera, I was able to ski on Dad’s skis and have them navigate the mountain on his behalf as he couldn’t be there in person this season.  The last reason was one that I haven’t written about before.

Remember back in the day when you had those wire things that held day passes that you would attach to your jacket?  I would wear those with honour, building them up 1, 2, 5, 10 of them to prove how much skiing had taken place and the mountains conquered.  I guess old habits don’t change too much as I took out my ski jacket for this recent trip and noticed I had a few tags still on my jacket.  The one that stood out was Jan 1, 2010.  We had gone to Silverstar with Chris and a buddy for a few days of snow activity.  It was an awesome trip.  I hadn’t skied since then.  This year’s trip was for Max (and Kiera!), Dad and Chris.

It was awesome.  Here’s a little vid action with a shout out to Chris included.

There will be much more on Chris and remembrance as we head towards next Friday which of course marks one year since he passed away.

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Be The Best.

The best day ever.

There has been an ongoing little joke in our family for years.

My Dad is a pretty positive guy especially when it comes to stuff like ping-pong, tennis and skiing.

The joke is that if you’d ask him how his day was on the slopes for example, he would always say…GREAT, the best ever.

Each trip, it seems, would outdo the previous.

Now where it got funny was we knew some of the days weren’t that great.  If you’ve skied in a minus 20 degree day of an Okanagan winter or the liquid snow of Hemlock Valley or the driving sleet of a December day on Mt. Baker you know what I mean.

On those days if you asked him how his day had been he’d say…GREAT, one of the best ever!

Notice the subtle difference?

On this Saturday, having survived a very tough Thursday night and sensitive emergency surgery, he noted to my sisters Grace and Val that this was one of his BEST WEEKENDS EVER.  He was indeed very alive and got to spend it with his bride…and of course a couple of his kids.

Interesting perspective…and I love it.

That’s a hospital bed BE THE BEST moment direct from the ICU.

Nice work Dad.  We’ll call that your living sermon for this week and give you the day off tomorrow!

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Be The Best.

Chair 32

We spent the weekend at Silver Star in BC’s amazing interior.

If you’ve never been, go.  It’s beautiful.  For families it’s amazing.  Skating ponds, tube town, all levels of boarding and skiing…the works.

Silver Star village centre

Max, his girlfriend Kiera and me spent the day boarding and skiing.  After lunch Kiera and Ingrid relaxed at the condo while Max and I explored the mountain.

We went up a lift we loved skiing in the past with Grandpa (my Dad), Chris and Max.

As we sat down, it was just the two of us on a 4 seater chair.  I’m not sure why, but I looked up at the chair number.  32.

The numbers 2, 32 and 41 are hugely significant for us.

They are all displayed on his jerseys at home.  The number 2 from Langley, 32 from BMS and 41 from the National Team.

Max and I rode that chair 4 more times and the numbers weren’t even close to any of the above.

Fluke? Chance? Just circumstance?

It could be, but these kinds of things happen with the most interesting of timing…and this isn’t the first time.

We ask fewer questions and just accept that in those moments we connect with Chris in a special way.

In this case, I couldn’t help but shoot some video.

Christian, we loved boarding and skiing with you yesterday, even if it was a bit different than before!

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Be The Best.

Yogurt and Toast.

All day long the texts, emails and comments kept rolling in.

We appreciate everything and all of those thoughts and prayers!

The Brookswood gang dropped by in the late afternoon and we had a very unique opportunity to toast Chris.

As I’ve mentioned before, Chris had the ability to eat yogurt without a spoon.  He would sort of squish the bottom of the yogurt cup and slurp and drink the yogurt, usually in one ‘fluid’ motion.

We know there are young readers of this blog and as parents we’re not endorsing this form of yogurt consumption!  We were just happy Chris and Max would pound back yogurt instead of cake.

In this picture you can see the toast just getting underway.  Including yours truly taking the picture, that was an even dozen toasting Chris with a yogurt salute and down the hatch it went.

Ingrid was left wondering how it could be done as she ended up with yogurt in a few places on her face.  I know Chris had a laugh at (or with) all of us!

What an amazing day it was.

I’ve got a few more stories to tell you so tune in tomorrow!

We ended the day knowing that Chris would be very, very happy…and we were too.  As tough as the day was, it was really incredible.

Who knew yogurt was made for toasting?

Ingrid, Cooper, Marshall, Cam, Lucas, Beau, Alan (front), Dylan, Jesse, Max, Devon
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Be The Best.

Vince Gill, friends and the bigger family.

I had heard this Vince Gill song a bunch of times.

In fact I think we own the Vince Gill Christmas CD.

Only thing was, aside from the chorus, I hadn’t really ever listened to the words.

I received an email from someone thinking about us with the song attached.

I listened intently and then looked up the lyrics which I’ve put in below.

Vince Gill is an amazing artist.

His voice is full of feeling, emotion and passion.

When I understood what the song was actually about, it was that much more powerful.

Yes…Christmas is all about family and I love the last line as well.

We’re all part of a bigger family…he states, ‘we’re all children of the King of Kings’.

What I’ve loved (really!), so much about the past 9 months is people reaching out to us from all walks of life.  All religious backgrounds.  All cultures.

When you look at the big picture, we, as in the human race, are all brothers and sisters and truly children of the King of Kings.

Has Christmas been easy?

Nope.

Has knowing that we are connected to a bigger family, literally and figuratively, helped us?

Yup.

Here’s those lyrics.

———————–

It Won’t Be The Same This Year – Vince Gill

It’s time to pack our bags and hit the highway,
And head on out for Christmas holiday,
I’ll fall apart when I pull in the driveway,
It’s my first time home since brother passed away,
His favorite time of year was always Christmas,
We’ll reminisce about the days gone by,
Oh how I wish that he was still here with us,
My memories with him will never die,
(Bridge)

But when the stockings are hung,
And silent night has been sung,
And Christmas is finally here,
It won’t be the same this year,

Losing my big brother hurt so badly,
It’s help me learn what Christmas really means,
There’s nothing more important than your family,
We’re all the children of the King of Kings,
(Bridge)

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Be The Best.

Merry Chris-Max.

I’ve used that greeting for years.

No, we didn’t name the boys so we could have this built-in family pun every Christmas season…it just sort of worked out.

As I write this, we’ve had Ingrid’s side of the family over for dinner tonight.

The Ethanator was intently tracking Santa’s flight across the world via Norad’s Santa Tracking system.

Hey, if you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to check this out.

He’s right on target to visit British Columbia in the next few hours!

Ethan reminded me that we had forgotten to make name cards for the places at the table.  I asked if he could handle it and this sharp Grade 2’er took charge and wrote all the names down.  He then showed me the tag he had made for Chris.  Of course Chris needed a tag too.  I told him to add it to my plate.  It was very cool.

I mentioned at Thanksgiving that we didn’t set an extra place for Chris, but rather toasted him and acknowledged that he was with us always.  Tonight we did the same and raised our glasses and told Chris we loved him.

Then Ethan told some reindeer jokes.

Hey, did you know what the wettest animal in the world is?  Duh.  Raindeer.

That’s how it goes.

I love the eyes of a child.  Poignant. Pure. Powerful…and just plain Funny.

Merry Chris-Max to all.

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Be The Best.

Don’t take the Lacrosse out of Laxmas?

As much as we look ahead and live for tomorrow, there are still times to reflect on history.

I stumbled across some pictures from Chris and the Bantam Box Lacrosse squad from BC as they represented the Province so admirably in August of 2007.

I had written updates for the BC Lacrosse magazine and this was my final piece summarizing the tournament.

In that final game Chris played the game of his life to that point, being a physical presence that helped BC clinch the Bronze medal in a heavyweight showdown with Alberta.  (ok, as heavyweight as 14 year olds can be…which is actually quite heavy…!)

————–

Chris with good bud Brett Dobray

The journey for the Bantam BC boys began months ago.  There were regional selection camps.  There was the Team BC final selection camp.  For those chosen to represent BC, a number of weekends were spent training for the national championships.

The 22 lacrosse players, along with coaches and entourage, jetted out of Vancouver on Thursday, August 2.  After spending 2 days in Peterborough, Ontario for a conditioning camp, the team traveled to the dorms at Durham College in Oshawa, which would be home for the next week.

On Sunday, August 5th, the highlight of the day was the opening ceremonies at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre, touted as Canada’s largest municipal sports centre.

The teams were cheered on by enthusiastic supporters as they entered the arena.  Team BC looked strongly West Coast in their multi-blue and gold jerseys proudly showing the mountains and a west coast ‘feel’.

Chris with Mr. Will VH

It felt like every team would be immediately ready to set up the nets and get playing, but there was one more night to go.

On Monday morning, seeing the Team BC players hit the floor in the warm-up of game one against Manitoba produced chills.  “Those jerseys look awesome”, whispered one onlooker from an opposing team to his buddy.  His friend couldn’t say anything.  They were.  And as good as the uniforms looked, Bantam Team BC looked even better in them.  This was the first official game they had played together and the game ended with a score of 16-1 for the BC crew.

Team BC played Saskatchewan Monday afternoon which was a hard hitting matinee with both teams making their opponents pay the price to get to the net.  Team BC finished the game strong with a final score of 10-2.

With two solid first-day games under their collective belts, rest was the top priority post-game, with a major test against Ontario on Tuesday.

Monday’s muggy weather made the arenas the equivalent of being in a steam room with a parka on and you could add an additional 10 degrees on the floor itself.  The event staff could not operate the exhaust fans either, explaining that by doing so the draw of air into the building would produce dangerous slippery floor conditions because of the moist, humid conditions outside.

Tuesday’s conditions improved somewhat in the morning with overcast skies and less humidity allowing the exhaust fans to run.

Team Ontario plays big and they came out hitting and highly aggressive.  Team BC took the first period to adjust and came back hard in the second with an exceptional effort but the spirited affair ended with a 5-2 loss for BC.

Team Ontario looked strong, but Team BC was immediately hungry to play again.  They didn’t have long to wait as Nova Scotia was the challenger in the 6:30pm game.  Team BC jumped to an early lead and dominated the run of the play.  The final score was BC 10 and Nova Scotia 2.

Wednesday was a rest day.

Thursday’s results were not what Team BC would have wanted.  The morning affair featured a game against a rough and tumble brand of lacrosse from Alberta.  The Bantams got behind early and could never completely recover.  The game ended in an all-out frenzy with Team BC running out of time to mount a full comeback.

Following a brief lunch break, it was ‘game-on’ with Iroquois Nation.  A win in this game meant advancing to the 2 vs. 3 playoff game on Friday with a chance to proceed to the gold medal game on Saturday.  A loss in the game would mean a bittersweet day off on Friday with a run at the bronze medal.

Chris gets ready to take on all comers in that familiar defensive stance.

The Iroquois Bantams showed BC and every fan in attendance a little thing or two about lacrosse on Thursday evening.  Their passing was quick and rhythmic; almost mesmerizing.  Their shooting was beautifully wicked.  It was as if the Iroquois were stating, “Don’t forget who invented this game.”  The symphony of drive, desire, and stick skills mixed with quiet aggression and flawless execution culminated in a 9-1 win for the Iroquois.

This is not to say that Team BC didn’t show up.  They did.  They worked hard and at times their hard work was misinterpreted into penalty minutes that ended up putting them in multiple odd man situations.

Following the unexpected day off on Friday, the Bantam squad had one thing and one thing only in their sites on Saturday.  The Bronze Medal.

They hit.  They ran.  They shot.  They never gave up.  If they wanted to have an excuse to fold their tents, they had one in the first period after out-chancing Alberta but finding themselves down by a couple of goals.

In a battle against a team that plays a mean and physical brand of lacrosse you have to play hard and you have to play smart.  Team BC executed their game plan perfectly.

Building on a 2nd period attack that just wouldn’t quit, goals were scored by Wesley Berg, Drew Millikin, Mason Pynn, Steve Ferdinandi and Michael Henry.  The final score was Team BC 8 and Alberta 4.

The boy’s elation was palatable.  Parents and supporters hugged in the stands.  The coaches high-fived each other as the players swarmed their goalie, Ryley Brown, in an embrace of champions.

“I’m glad we got things done”, said a proud Coach Sean Beasley.  Getting things done was not an easy task.  This team could have easily been very down after losing to Alberta and Team Iroquois on Thursday, but they rallied and came to work on Saturday like a team possessed.

With the Bronze Medals proudly around their necks, the players traded gear with new friends who had been foes and looked forward to the next time they could play for their Province in a National Championship.

The Bantam squad from BC did their province proud and they will inevitably bring back experiences, emotions and skill that will build their club teams and ultimately continue to build the beautiful game of lacrosse.

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Be The Best.

Everyone wins in Sin City

What?

Everyone wins in Las Vegas right?

Of course not.

You’ve heard the other name for the town…Lost Wages.

What better place to take a bunch of underage kids for a lacrosse tournament!  Joking aside, the supervision for Burnaby Mountain Selects is always awesome and last time I checked, the fields weren’t right on the strip.

Guess what.  One of the squads…the U12 (so these are young men 12 years of age and under) won their entire division securing the victory with a come from behind win just hours ago.

That is fantastic and for all the teams, win or lose on the scoreboard, these tournaments just make you better.  The competition makes you stronger.  It’s all good.  Everyone wins.

And now for the completely unexpected.

The winners of this tournie get a cheque for $250.  I can think of a lot of things a team could buy.  All deserved.  Dinner, snacks, souvenirs, lacrosse gear, odor-be-gone for lacrosse bags, etc 🙂

Guess what they just did?

Donated the whole thing to Chris’ fund.

Here’s the pic to prove it just an hour or so ago. (see link below)

I’ve talked a lot about giving and grieving and how those go together.  This gift to us is so amazing beyond any dollar amount.  What an amazing gift.

THANK YOU boys.  THANK YOU Joyce, Brent and Jeff and the entire BMS gang.

Be The Best!

We are humbled, proud and grateful.

I think Chris might just bodycheck someone up in heaven tonight in your honour…if that’s allowed…wait, I’ll check with Rev. Jake (Chris’ Grandpa) cause I’m pretty sure there’s a lacrosse section up there!  In fact I know there is…I just wasn’t sure on the bodychecking rule…

Here’s the link to the pic: http://yfrog.com/h23kqupj

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Be The Best.

Coat Cheque.

Chris, in red, takes on fellow BMSer in practice session.

Late yesterday afternoon we left BCIT and headed up the hill to Simon Fraser University.

We’ve done that drive many times.  Most of those times were to drop Chris and his fellow Burnaby Mountain Selects lax dudes off for a practice.  Then they would beat each other with sticks and run like crazy people and throw a hard rubber ball as intensely as they could at even crazier dudes who were the goalies!  Chris loved it.

Look at these pics from Aug 2009.  This was actually a practice down in New West, but these are all BMS players in a scrimmage.  Chris is red #32.  I love the picture where you can see him smiling through his mouth guard.  He loved playing defense.  I spoke to some of his teammates who said Chris would hurt you in practice and it was excellent, cause it made you better.  You knew he was giving 100% all the time…practice, scrimmage or championship game.

I just LOVE that smile.

Anyways, yesterday wasn’t a practice.

We were heading up to SFU to deliver the cheque that will be presented to the first receipient of the Chris Friesen Memorial Award in January 2011.  Wanda from the foundation at SFU met us and she has become a wonderful part of all the good that is happening and will continue to happen in Chris’ name.  With the fund over $30,000 and the first gift in place, the fund is now fully operational and will provide the first official payout based on interest earned from the fund in January 2012.  We cannot think about the fund or the legacy from the fund without thinking about everyone who contributed directly and indirectly to the fund and our family with love and care over the past 8 months.

That’s the cheque…the coat was today.

Our entrepreneurial marketing students at BCIT were having a fund raiser today with a silent auction and also having a coat drive.  Ingrid had a used coat and we also had one from Chris.  The thought of his coat keeping someone warm this winter makes us feel good, even though the very simple act of giving away his coat this afternoon was not the easiest thing that I’ve ever done.

Coat…Check.

Cheque…Check.

A good couple of days….hard….but good.

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Be The Best.

29,978 reasons to say thank you…wait, make that 30,000.

We had a few amazing emails this week.

The first was from Joyce, part of our Burnaby Mountain Selects lacrosse family.

She had the official total raised for Chris’ fund from the Chris Friesen Memorial Lacrosse shafts.

Ready? $8,261.54.  Are you kidding me?  What an incredible donation from all of those who purchased the sticks, the folks at Harrow and our amazing friends Joyce, Brent and Jeff at BMS.

The good news didn’t stop there.

Just today we received a note from Wanda at Simon Fraser with a new grand total, $29,978.45!!

Our goal was 20k.  When that was smashed, Ingrid boldly told Wanda the new goal was 30k.

When I saw that number this afternoon, the first thing I thought about was hoofing it up to SFU to put in another $25 to get us over the 30k mark.

I didn’t quite get there and then I read another email.

It was from Brent from BMS to Wanda at SFU, personally committing funds to break through the $30,000 mark.

Cool eh?

In the darkest of times we have seen such warmth, light and brightness.

We are humbled and grateful and proud and sad and happy and scared and excited.

I could add more, but you get the picture.

With a fund established at $30,000, we will be helping to change lives for a long long time..forever actually, as this fund will never stop giving money away each year and will continue to grow over time.

The first $1,000 award to a lacrosse playing SFU student will be proudly given in Chris’ name in January 2011 at the Maple Leaf Awards dinner.

What a night that will be.