Yesterday was one of those days that feels like Chad never left. Maybe he was out of town or something, but he certainly wasn’t gone.
I spent the evening with his “brother” Jesse Hawkins and wife Nicole (if you’ve read the book, they are Chad’s best friends from Louisiana who visited somewhere around page 305). They were back in Vancouver for a visit and I was so pleased when they got in touch. I know how hard it is when visiting your home town for a short period of time, and so many people to make time for, I was so happy to see them.
I had met them when I was 20, but I was really only “that young chick hanging out with Chad.” Though they knew how serious Chad and I had become in those following next three years, I didn’t see them again until they visited during Chad’s last November. It was then that I got to know who Chad’s “brother” really was. After one of their afternoon visits, I walked them to the elevators, and as we kept talking, I rode with them to the main floor, as the conversation continued for another 20 minutes (only occasionally concerned I should go back upstairs and check on Chad).
We all were worried about Chad. Jesse and Nicole, maybe more than I, understood how serious the situation was. And though they made sure that Chad never felt like they were in Vancouver for him; they were. In confidence, they explained they didn’t want to wait until, or if, things got worse. The wanted to get time with him as he was. Whether or not Chad would admit it, he needed his friends and that visit did wonders for his spirits.
Less than a month after that visit, Jesse and Nicole were back in Vancouver – for Chad’s Celebration of Life. We were all glad they had come when they did.
I still have the Saints shirt they brought me when they visited in November (it remains in the do-not-throw-out-pile in my room at Mom and Dad’s house). I still wear one of the wonderful knitted “prayer blankets” someone in their Louisiana community sent with them when they heard about Chad. The other prayer blanket was with Chad when he took his last breath, and was still on him when I left him for the last time.
Being around Jesse and Nicole last night felt like I had just seen them last week – certainly not four years ago. The banter was the same, and talking to two friends who knew Chad so well, felt like I was just standing in for Chad while he was out of town.
In the same way that yesterday’s visit made me miss Chad more, it brought him a little closer today. And when Nicole said, “The same way we used to see Chad in Vancouver, we have to see you now.” I felt heavy with gratitude for the good people Chad left me with.
Thank you Hawkins for staying as close to me as I feel to you.
One of my favourite notes from Jesse on Chad’s blog – a pretty good character reference I’d say.
Last week was timeless. Sitting and talking with you was a real pleasure; a genuine honour. While it was a little less manic than our time in Holloway-Smith, it reminded me of the friendship and guidance you always provided to me. Thanks for being a brother to me, then and now.
While your fight alone is enough inspiration for me to lift more weight during lunchtime (it is like you are there spotting me), to send chills throughout my body, to simply be better, I like to send you the energy I draw from Drew Brees’ pre-game rally cry and substitute the wording for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0Hv7Tc1VoE&feature=related
Today, we take a hold of this cancer!
Today is the start of our recovery!
When I say who are we, you say Chad!
When I say are we ready, you say Ah-yoo!
WE ARE TEAM RALLY CHAD!!!
The WHO DAT NATION and TEAM RALLY CHAD are behind you. Let us lift you up. You will stay strong because it is who you are, but lean on us. We will support you. You are loved.
Your approach is that of a true CHAMPION; one step at a time. Keep stepping. I know you will because you have the biggest balls I have ever seen, literally and figuratively.
See you in Nawlins soon, Hawk.