(Given at the Funeral, Church of the Advent)
This place, this music, all of you gathered here are what and who Chris loved most. He appreciated the majestic, ethereal, and transcendent so it is fitting to celebrate his life here. Yet it is also true that Chris never wanted things to be about him. His first concern was others. He was a guy who simply loved to be with his friends and family. As someone posted online “Chris was the embodiment of kindness.”
My brother’s obituary, so beautifully written by Nadia, begins with the phrase that he was a man of strength and integrity. This is so true even though we come together today to wrestle with the fact that his strength was tested and he succumbed to powerful forces beyond himself. And while we cannot make sense of this now, we gather to remember and celebrate him knowing he is at peace.
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.
We take hope in the strength of God’s mercy and graceand lean into the promise that what we only know in part now we will know fully then. This world is a difficult, and at times, dark place, but Chris by his boundless curiosity, his care for others, and that irrepressible smile was, no IS, a radiant reflection for us of who God is.
As a family, we have been enveloped and bourn up by the love, prayer and support of so many. We cherish a lifetime of memories with Chris and have been privileged to see him through your eyes, through memories of the countless lives he has touched. And that is a lot! Whether it is someone who met him after a show or a dear friend, the accounts of who Chris is for us match up. He was so consistently and genuinely thoughtful, generous, and kind. As a friend recently wrote Chris “wisely chose to be obstinately joyous and grateful and full of wonder.” This consistency in his nature is a true sign of strength, integrity, and character; a way of living imparted to him (and me) by our parents and grandparents and grounded in a deep and abiding faith. As Chris’ big brother he may have looked up to me. Yet it is I who hope to be more like him.
While he has gone from us physically, his impact on our lives thunders on like the rumble of his bass lines.
I want to share a few thoughts with you from Chris’ wife Nadia.
There was a glow in Chris’ eye when he was ready for an adventure. His sarcasm was smart and subtle. He loved to correct my grammar and was the only American I knew who felt “peckish” when he needed food. Chris felt like home to me from the minute I met him, and he felt like I was home for him, too. Life with him felt like an Elizabeth Goudge novel, and I loved him for that.
Chris was an exceptional judge of character and integrity, who never gave up on someone over a disagreement. His friends span across the globe, and they could each could say they knew him after an evening with a beer at the bar. He once told me, “If you want to get to know somebody, ask them questions and listen to what they have to say. People like to talk about themselves.”
Being around Chris made you happy. Being around Chris made you feel loved. Being around Chris made you feel comfortable and gave you the freedom to be yourself. He exuded joy; the kind that people have when they are young, and often lose when they begin to grow up. He was a listener; a confidant; the bestfriend I ever had. He loved people, despite their negative qualities and judgmental tendencies; he led by example and thought that words were cheap.
Chris’ hunger for knowledge was insatiable. I once threatened that if he bought one more book from Manchester-by-the-Book, I would begin to secretly donate them to Beverly Bootstraps. He was one of the only people I knew who read Anna Karenina, in three days, and who read The Divine Comedy from cover to cover six times. The peace that Levin felt in nature and pureness of the love he shared with Kitty was something Chris desired and strove for in his own life. Yes, he was a passionate dreamer; but his passion, hope, and restful love of the simple life carried me through some of the greatest challenges and most stressful times in my life.
He gave so much to his job, to his friends, to his family, and to me. May we all keep his blue eyes and his contagious smile in our hearts, until the day we all see him again.
On behalf of Nadia and my family I want to express our gratitude for the outpouring of love, support, generosity, and kindness, all of which are fitting tributes by you to the man who embodied these things and whose life we celebrate today.