Whether coaching the boys soccer teams, Max playing basketball and Chris lacrosse.
Then there was the fan part of sports.
Tonight Ingrid and I ventured out to our first Whitecaps soccer game.
It was a fantastic experience…aside from the referee who felt he should be the center of attention, but alas before this becomes a sports rant, I’ll stop. (cause if I don’t I’ll probably get a red card seeing as they were being handed out like candy tonight) ((ok, I’ll really stop now))
The crowd was great. The game was great. The atmosphere was great. The company was great.
One of the first things Ingrid said to me as we sat down was what do you think Chris would think of the soccer team, MLS in Vancouver etc. I said I knew he would love it and given the open air atmosphere of Empire Field, he probably had the best seats in the house tonight.
I will never forget the Canucks playoff run and disappointment last year and the anticipation of a BIG run this year.
It was riveting and was a great distraction in very tough times. I think though, it was more than just a distraction. It reminded me of the passion that only comes from sports. The kind of passion that Chris lived with. I think that’s the true attraction.
When the winds kick up and the storm is blowin, there are bound to be a few whitecaps on the water. We’ve seen a few of those in our family this past year!
However, it was the Whitecaps tonight, that offered that wonderful first-hand look into the purity and passion of sport and remind us both of another amazing athlete and son we know, love and remember with every heartbeat.
I needed to get some balloons for the cemetery on Friday.
See any words that don’t sort of go together already?
So, I ‘googled’ dutifully and found a great supplier nearby…’Balloons-R-Fun’. Seriously!?
I actually had a good telephone chat with the small biz owner and suggested she might change her business name as she told me how often she helps people with memorial situations.
Maybe something like, ‘Balloons-R-Fun and Maybe-They-R-Not-That-Fun’…or something like that.
In any event, she was very kind and Max picked up 20 helium filled balloons that afternoon.
One thing one should do when releasing balloons is check the wind conditions. We had other things on our minds so when we released the first batch of balloons at 2:32 and 41 seconds, they flew right up into the big tree above Chris’ Dogwood wall.
What was actually very cool was Ethan’s balloon, which was the only one with a written message on it, got ‘stuck’ on the end of a branch out above the wall. It was sort of like it was saying a special hello. Ethan later sent off another balloon which you see in the video. He’s wearing Chris’ Johns Hopkins lacrosse hoodie which is a lifetime classic and now proudly owned by Ethan.
Things got even more interesting when Chris’ friends let go of the four balloons we had left an hour or so later. I didn’t realize what had happened until I saw the video later. Three of the four balloons stay together and the fourth balloon is also moving upward, just slightly separated.
No, those are not a sequence of numbers uttered by a football quarterback.
Those are jersey numbers Chris wore and was known for.
#2 in Langley.
#32 for Burnaby Mountain Selects
#41 proudly representing the great province of British Columbia
Tomorrow, March 25, is quite a day.
One year ago we lost our son.
Not a day or hour goes by without a thought of him. Most hours the thoughts continue minute by minute.
We have found a place for people to come and remember Chris.
His ashes will remain forever at the Langley Lawn Cemetery at 208 and 44th.
It’s a beautiful place with 6 granite memorial walls in a stand of trees near 208th avenue.
When we went to view the walls, we found that two of the six walls were dedicated to individuals and four to couples.
One was called Maple and one was called Dogwood.
Wouldn’t you know it, Maple 32 was available as was Dogwood 41.
Maple 32 is amazing because the BMS logo is a Maple Leaf.
Dogwood 41 is amazing because Dogwood is the provincial flower and 41 was the number Chris wore for the province when he played at the Nationals in 2009.
Because of a few logistical reasons, we’ve chosen Dogwood 41 as the final resting place.
It’s a beautiful place to go.
Our family will be there tomorrow, joined a bit later by a few of Chris’ friends. We wanted to show them personally where they can go to remember Chris so that they in turn can show others.
The journey continues, but this is a huge step for us.
I know my Dad in the ICU in Vernon is with us in spirit as is my Mom from Vernon and other family that can’t be with us personally. (health update: Dad is inching forward…very slow, but steady right now which is good)
Although tomorrow is a day for family and Chris’ close friends, we welcome anyone over the next weeks and months to stop by and spend a few minutes in thought about how passionately Chris lived his life and how he was determined to Be The Best.
I’ll never forget him writing down the goal of making the A1 Langley Thunder Lacrosse team.
I’ve never seen a kid so driven to achieve that goal. He made it. It was amazing.
Thanks for your continued support and all the thoughts and prayers coming our way this week.
We feel it!
At 2:32 and 41 seconds, we will be looking up at the sky and saying hi to Chris.
If you want to take a quick look up at the sky at any time tomorrow and say hi to Chris, please do! I know he would love it. Dad…that’s you too!! I know you can see the sky from your hospital bed!!
This blog has never been about money and never will be, but some people have asked what else they can do. We will continue to give to Chris’ fund every year via Simon Fraser University’s giving program. It’s a way to remember Chris and also challenge a new athlete every year to Be The Best. The University has just set up a direct link for Chris’ fund. They handle all donation receipts etc directly. Here’s the link.
I’m going to intro you to a couple of people that I don’t know.
But..with the world of social media, the web CAN be an amazing place to connect on the journey of the new normal.
The first is Steve Ewen.
I’ve never met him.
He’s a reporter with the Vancouver Province and he’s battling cancer. It’s a tough battle. He’s called his blog, ‘I’m sad and mad about getting cancer’. Actually no…he hasn’t. His blog is called, Crush the Tumour with Humour.
It’s some amazing stories of someone going through a very tough fight but remaining positive and using humour to negotiate the new normal he and his wife find themselves living. If I can figure it out, I’ll add it to my ‘links’ section, but here’s a quick direct link if you want to check it out. Here’s an excerpt from today:
The bad news is that the new stitches in my back has led to our surgeon, Dr. Robert Lee, limiting my arm movements for the next two weeks. The really bad news, at least for the people at G.F. Strong and the general public around King Ed and Laurel in Vancouver, is that they’ve given me a power wheelchair.
Oh. Mercy. Think of the havoc I can cause with a motor and wheels?
Keep rockin it Steve!
The second link is from Gillian Berg, the Mission mom who lost her husband and father of their four children at Christmas. Her writing is deep, spiritual and an amazing work of strength and vulnerability rolled into one. An excerpt from her latest:
Last night, as my daughter asked for help, begged for prayers that would take her fear away, the fear that something else might happen, the fear that she is still in danger, I realized again that like the work needed to heal the physical wounds, there was going to be gruelling work needed to heal the emotional ones.
We, each one of us, will have to choose to stand slowly, painfully upon the limbs of our broken dreams; to endure the attacks of relentless discouragement of working towards something new; to fight for something better, something healthier.
To Steve and Gillian I would say, we all haven’t chosen our situations. It happened. Life happens. There is no big answer to the ‘why’ question….at least not one that may be evident in this lifetime. We”ll simply stand with you on your journey of the new normal as so many have and are standing with us. This is a link to the first time the term ‘the new normal’ entered our lexicon. It’s been a fixture ever since.
There was a great story in yesterday’s Province Newspaper about Zoe and Bob Longshaw. They’ve been married 65 years and the story of their relationship reads like a slice of history. It’s a great story and I’ve linked it here.
It reminded me of another couple I know who’ve been married over 50 years…I think 55 this September if my memory serves. (If it doesn’t I’m sure my sisters will correct me in short order.) Their names are Jake and Leona Friesen…aka my Mom and Dad.
They were down over Christmas and I had shot some video at Blackie Spit which I had written about at that time, but only put the video clips into a little movie this weekend.
The occasion? A bit of Valentine’s Day and a bit of a birthday…an 80th birthday to be exact.
DAD….HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR FEB 16!
MOM AND DAD…HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
You’ve given your family and so many others a great example of long-lasting relationships.
As has been said many times here, Max and Chris LOVED going to Grandma and Grandpa’s. We are so thankful for all the fantastic memories together.
So with that quick intro, here’s a little peek at a relationship that has stood the test of time.
I can’t tell you how many sunsets I took in last year through the months of April, May, June, July and August.
They were like medicine for me. Whether it was the feeling of the closing of a day is the reminder of a new one to come, the powerful display of dark and light with the clouds or simply getting a little glimpse of life beyond this earth and a connection with Chris. All of those and more.
As we all know our Vancouver weather doesn’t provide us with too many great sunsets between Oct and March and so Ingrid and I set off to find some.
If sunsets bore you, close your browser now! If you like em, here’s a few that happened this past week…so they’re ‘fresh’!
PS You can click on each pic to see a larger view. Feel free to use or share.
Although the winter weather is pounding eastern Canada and the US, the upper west coast of North America has been relatively mild…so far. With a few absolutely spectacular days in Vancouver over the Christmas break, it was a great opportunity to get out to Blackie Spit for a walk.
I’ve posted a previous blog about this place, adjacent to Crescent Beach, and if you can find the time to grab a coffee or tea and head out for a walk, this is an amazing place. Don’t forget your camera.
My Mom loves the ocean and with my Mom and Dad down for a few days over Christmas, this was a great mini trip here in the Lower Mainland.
Take a look at the words on the sign.
‘Imagine this oasis if you were resting during flight.’
Blackie Spit is the home to over 200 species of birds on their migratory routes in fall and spring.
I thought those were interesting words as I reflected on our journey on the new normal pathway and the need to rest during flight.
In many ways, I think that’s what the holidays are supposed to be about. A rest. Not a final place, but a pit-stop along the way. A chance to reflect, eat a whole lot, relax a bit and then get ready to fly again.
I love that last line as well, ‘as you wonder at its beauty, enjoy the sights and sounds; make sure to breathe the salty breeze the wind whips around’.
First point: Not sure when the Surrey Parks Board or a Nature Society began to hire poets to write their sign info, but I like it!!
Second point: Resting during flight and feeling the salty breeze that the wind whips around is really great advice.
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…!)
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you live in the Vancouver area you’ve heard the story of Alexa Middalaer, the 4 year old who died in May 2008 after being struck by a vehicle driven by a driver who had been drinking. Alex and her aunt were feeding a horse at the side of the road. (source: Province Newspaper page A4, Tues, Nov 9, 2010)
This post is not about blame, courts or sentencing issues.
It’s about the parents of Alexa.
You may have seen Laurel, Alexa’s Mom, and Michael, Alexa’s Dad in the media over the past two years. They have honoured their daughter by giving and creating. If you haven’t been there before, check the family’s website. It’s an amazing tribute and they have given others (like us) an example of how to be proactive.
I’ve wondered a few times how they could be so strong.
Their quotes in the Province today shows that incredible ‘polar balance’ of positive and negative emotion and energy that pumps through your body 24-7 after your lives change forever.
“‘In truth, I stand before you today an inherently broken and gutted soul.” – Alexa’s Dad Michael
“Now we are merely shells of what we were before.” – Alexa’s Mom Laurel
Powerful words from such strong people.
But wait. Laurel also states, “God, do I miss her. But I live each day by choice. I have to.”
I read that sentence and almost dumped my bowl of corn flakes…(and almond milk).
We are living each day by choice too.
The Middelaers for their beautiful Alexa.
The Friesens for their amazing Chris.
And thousands more for their loved ones.
As we head towards Remembrance Day, we stand with all those Canadian families who have lost loved ones in the service of our amazing country or illness or tragedy.
And then we choose to live on in their memories using their passion to fuel us, one day at a time…one decision at a time.