Life, Death and Friendship – RIP Chris Dufresne

My phone rang at 9:12am this past Tuesday morning and I saw it was the son of a good friend calling. The initial joy I experienced upon seeing his name soon turned to curiosity. Did my friend’s son have an issue his dad suggested he run by me, or perhaps the back pain his dad was having was getting worse and he wanted the name of the chiropractor I had mentioned to him previously?

One thought that did not enter my mind was that he was calling to tell me that his father had passed away unexpectedly the night before. Chris was active and much more physically fit than most 62-year-old men, so this news was not only shocking, it also seemed unfair.

My personal Achilles heel has always been dealing with death. This is probably a result of losing my mom when I was 3-years old and my father a year after I graduated from college. As much as I struggle in dealing with deaths, there is a silver lining…. It has given me a perspective that has taught me to take time to appreciate the people in my life more. I often tell my clients, ‘There are two major self-inflicted pains in life. The short-term pain of self-discipline and the never-ending pain of regret.’

Years ago, I started a somewhat unorthodox practice of expressing gratitude to people in my life. This is to both let them know how fortunate I feel to have them in my life, as well as to protect me from having regrets when they are gone. This is the first time someone passed away before I expressed that gratitude. I may even subconsciously be writing this blog in an effort to make up for that error.

I have no doubt that Chris valued our friendship as much as I did, but I have found that expressing it more directly usually surprises people and I regret not having had the chance to do that for Chris. So many nuances in friendships are not a big deal to one party, but mean the world to the other and I would have liked to share some of those moments that Chris probably never gave a second thought to, that still resonate with me.

Chris was the National college football reporter for the LA Times and Tribune Company for I believe well over 20 years. He also covered many other sports including golf and the Olympics. He was a brilliant writer and used his sense of humor to the benefit of his readers. He also had a knack for the human side of sports and used it to make you feel like you were there with him sharing in the experience. I highly recommend you read some of his old articles on the LA Times website if this has piqued your interest.

Chris trusted himself so much that he enjoyed taking chances in his preseason rankings, rarely picking the consensus top team for his number one. He seldom got it right, but often came up just short and almost always discovered household name coaches before they were household names.

Chris was genuine and all about good people. I saw him write very fair and positive stories about people I know he did not especially care for as human beings. Chris treated people as individuals and enjoyed interacting with people of all levels. Like all good friendships, he brought perspectives to me that I had not considered.

Although sports were integral to our becoming friends, they soon took a backseat to our lives. One especially memorable time we shared was the unlikely event that we each had a child who suddenly and unexpectedly ended up in Children’s Hospital at the same time. Although this was an experience neither of us ever wanted to go through, it was nice to have someone to talk to who was going through a similar trying time with you.

Like all good parents, Chris minimized the pain he was feeling but could not hide the pain he felt when a loved one was hurting. Chris’s love for his wife and sons was palpable and my heart goes out to them.

Although Chris may have physically left us, the profound impact Chris left on my and so many others lives will live on in us. Thanks for making me a better person Chris! Love you brother.


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