A Letter to Chris Smith, 30 Days Later…

One month ago today I lost one of my best friends, Chris Smith. He was only 26. 26!

I tried to write this after Chris passed away but couldn’t. I like to say that I am doing fine – and I am moving on and adjusting, as I am sure his family and other friends are. But it hurts so, so much. If I think about Chris or what happened too long, I still have difficulty breathing and feel like crying.

I want to mourn and I want to share because Chris was such an amazing person, quiet, but in his own way someone who always smiled and had a gentleness about him that was infectious. I don’t know a better way of doing this than writing a letter to Chris:

Dear Chris,

Hey buddy. I haven’t seen you in a while. I feel like we need to go to the park or something and catch up. I have a lot to share with you and get your input on – work, life, you know ;-). And I want to hear about the latest craziness with all of the machines at work and where you decided to live next year.

Well, I guess you made a decision about next year though, didn’t you? I just wish it wasn’t so far away….

I miss you so much Chris! You were supposed to be here and we were supposed to grow old together and have more crazy experiences together. I always assumed we would be in each other’s weddings and be Boy Scout leaders together, watching our own kids grow up. Remember all of those camping trips? Or when we used to go sledding together on snow days? So many things I probably shouldn’t really share publically, right? We had so many experiences together. And I still have your home phone number memorized even though you haven’t lived there or used that number in a while.

I talk to you Chris. And I think about you everyday. I hope you can hear me and know that you are missed. At your funeral I called you one of my best friends – and you are, but it feels more like I lost a brother. So much of who I am has become intertwined with you. I still have the eulogy I wrote on my desk at home, underneath a picture of you. I haven’t been able to put it away in a drawer; that seems too final.

I know it will get easier, but it’s going to take some time. I probably do just need to sit down, think, and cry. Maybe I am trying to hold on to you? I know you’ll always be around and I will think about you often. It’s hard but I will get there – I know you would be strong.

After the funeral we went to your parents house and I saw your old friend group – I haven’t seen some of them since high school! While there, I noticed the record player in the corner of the living room and I saw a record on top with a picture of two people lying in a field, looking up at a blue sky. I went home and bought the album and I have listened to it often. I think you would like this song:

You are in the seat beside me
You are in my dreams at night

That picture pretty much summarized what I want to be doing – being outside with you and reflecting on life past, present, and future. And that song is pretty emblematic of how I feel.

Chris, I know you aren’t Jewish but I want to offer a traditional Jewish funeral prayer for you. I figure you may like it:

O G-d, full of mercy, Who dwells on high, grant proper rest on the wings of the Divine Presence – in the lofty levels of the holy and the pure ones, who shine like the glow of the firmament – for the soul of Chris the son of David and Janet who went on to his world, because they will contribute to charity in remembrance of his soul. May his resting place be in the Garden of Eden – therefore may the Master of Mercy shelter him in the shelter of His wings for eternity, and may He bind his soul in the Bond of Life. G-d is his heritage, and may he repose in peace on his resting place. Now let us all respond: Amen.

I hope you enjoy yourself up there Chris. To be honest, I hope I don’t join you too soon – but when I do, I look forward to hearing about all of your adventures and filling you in on mine. I trust that God has a plan for you and I am sure you will do it well.

I miss you Chris. You’ll always be my best friend and my brother. Keep it real.


An Old Campout