Nate Gaede

(In response to a conversation with Adam Caress)

I second everything about Chris feeling like a younger brother. Not only because Dave and he were clearly part of our Gloucester family and because he was my good friend’s kid brother, but because of who and how he was. He was a person with so much wonder and joy in every fiber of his being that you couldn’t help but be taken in by him in the best possible way. He had this childlike innocence that he somehow magically carried into adulthood when the rest of us felt and looked and acted like the world had kicked us around a little. And it wasn’t because he was 18 when I met him – that never stopped. All his life you could tell hime the sky was green and he would go “oh really? Wow!” and not tell you you were a moron even though he knew you were.

It always made me feel like I shouldn’t take things for granted, that being jaded was a choice, not a consequence of getting older and Chris was choosing wisely to remain obstinately joyous and grateful and full of wonder. You could tell him anything and he would give you this look like, “really? that’s amazing!” He didn’t have a snide, condescending or confrontational bone in his body, and never made people feel bad about what they had to say. If you wanted to talk about it, he was interested.

Long after he stopped being just this kid with a hot car with a loan he couldn’t possibly afford and a smile that he had no idea how to turn off who needed a place to stay, he was still a man with a smile that he had no idea how to turn off. Whenever I would go to Caspian shows there would be the whole band, up in the dark stage with mood lighting, playing dark soulful symphonic music and these serious looks on their faces, casing about for dramatic emotions. And then there was Chris in back with his bass, smiling from ear to ear. If you watched him long enough, you could see him think about it and decide that he should have a serious look on his face, so he would wear a serious mask for a couple of minutes. But then of course it would gradually crack, and the look of joy would creep back onto his face, and he would be up there, beaming away again as he played. You couldn’t contain who he was and he couldn’t fake it. Life never seemed to beat down, coach out, betray off, drink away, shout out or disappoint away his unbridled optimism and joy.

And for me that’s why his passing rips me in half. If feels particularly cruel to lose a friend, a family member, a brother in Christ, who had and was something really unique in my life – in all our lives. I know none of my friends is irreplaceable, but Chris seems to me particularly irreplaceable. He had qualities that defied the lies of this World about how we are supposed to look and act, and it had a massive impact on people around him. You didn’t have to know him well to know he was special, and to love him disproportionally to the time you had invested in him. He was a light in dark places, and I cannot believe that light is gone from us. For now, anyway. There is no doubt in my mind that as I walk my million billion miles, I will see that light in the distance, and in a far greener country I will find Chris again. Beaming from ear to ear. And when I see him I know exactly what he will say to me: “isn’t this cool?”