There is a little rhyme by an unknown author that starts out, “I remember the day; I remember the place” that always come to my mind when I think about my friend, Christopher. I remember the day I met him vividly.
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Christopher approached me as I was working in a retail store in the mall in 1999. He had on a tan suit and the biggest, brightest smile I had ever seen on a white person! He stuck his hand out formally and cheerfully stated, “Hi! I’m Christopher! I’m your new co-worker. I look forward to working with you!” He shook my hand quickly and ran off to the next associate to introduce himself in the same manner. I stood there bemused by his quirky little pace and mouse like appearance and genuinely honest approach. It was apparent by his facial features and style of introduction that Christopher was very young. As it turned out, this was his first job. He had just graduated from high school.
I remember the day I met Christopher so well because we went on to become great friends. We spent time hanging out after work, and after we both had left the department store, we still found time to go to get beer and hot wings when he was old enough or to chat about life at the café. We would run into each other in passing and always stop and take time to fill each other in our lives. We never rushed a conversation, and we always greeted each other and left each other with a hug.
Our friendship was intimate, you could say. We discussed love, life, sex, desires…anything close friends would normally open their hearts and minds and talk about. I was there to hear all about his first love and the first time he had sex. I learned all about his father abandoning him when he was a baby. I shared my world with him and offered him advice as well.
The last time I hugged Christopher was in the café directly after our conversation about his joining the Marine Corp. This was in 2001, a month after the September 11 tragedies. I said, “You did WHAT?!? Christopher, you could get killed!”
July 31st, 2005, Christopher was killed in Iraq by enemy fire. I still see his innocent and beautiful face as the boy who approached me seven years ago, not the face of the thin Marine that headlined our local newspapers.
Christopher’s death didn’t change my life, as I’m sure it has for many. Meeting him did. I have never met such an honest and caring person in my life. Just knowing him had made me view things in a different perspective and in a brighter light. Now that he is gone, I realize that he was a gift to me and I cherish the time we spent as friends.