Showing posts with label Abby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abby. Show all posts

Friday, December 21, 2007

Au revoir, pas adieu

Our young friend, Chris Rudloff, lost his fight last night, about the time I was uploading that last post.

Chris was a special young man with a gleaming future ahead of him . . . ahead of them, Chris and the love of his life, Abby. It was just in May that we attended their wedding, then partied through the night in celebration of their future together.

WE JUST DIDN'T KNOW -- couldn't have even believed -- that future would be this damned short. It's not right, and it's not fair. Of course, not a damned thing about life is fair. Death, either.

I write this through my tears this cruel Christmastime, and nothing breaks my heart more than to think that, at such a young age, Abby is living the worst nightmare of any woman who looks upon her husband and sees the love of her life.
And of any man who desperately loves his wife and knows -- absolutely knows -- that it's all true when he calls her his "better half."

Likewise, it goes without saying how devastatingly wrong it is for any parent to bury a child.

This week before Christmas, I don't feel like decorating the tree. I don't want to do a Christmas edition of the Revolution 21 podcast. Particularly for us in Omaha, this season of good tidings and joy has brought in a harvest of death.

And now this for those of us who knew Chris and loved him.

WE WILL, however, decorate the tree. I will now get to work on putting together a Christmas podcast, though it may be a little late. It is necessary to celebrate the baby who came into the world to conquer death.

It is because of that first Christmas, that joyous day so long ago when God became man, that we now tell our friend Chris au revoir. Not adieu.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's not supposed to be this way

In all of my wife's and my years of helping out with youth group at our Catholic parish here in Omaha, there was one band of brothers who were absolute stalwarts in "Connections."

That would be Justin, Chris and Joel. Teen-agers aren't supposed to be that dependable . . . or universally good-natured . . . or selfless . . . or faith-filled, for that matter. It gets your attention when you run across the likes of Justin, Chris and Joel.

Mrs. Favog and I had the pleasure of watching this trio of eventual Eagle Scouts come into the high-school group as 14-year-old kids -- first Justin, then Chris a couple of years later, then Joel a couple of years after that. More than anything, you remember two things. First, that they were always there, and you could always count on them. Each of the three even worked in the church office.

Second, you remember knowing from the first time you saw them that they were going to grow up to be good men. God knows that's not nothing, not today. It's a lot.

OVER THE YEARS, amid the teen-age hustling mob, we watched Justin fall in love with Annie, then stand beside her right after graduation as she fought cancer. We always knew they'd get married, and they did -- we rushed to make it to a hurried ceremony at church, hours before Justin shipped off to Iraq.

He came back in one piece, finished his hitch, and then we watched as yesterday's high-school kids became parents of a dear little girl.

Likewise, we watched Chris grow into a fine young man and fall in love with Abby. I think "Connections," in some mystical Catholic way, must be some kind of institutional Yenta.

And this summer, after Chris' graduation from college, we all gathered for Chris and Abby's wedding. Of course, Joel -- the youngest sibling, now a newly minted paramedic -- was the life of the party.

A couple of us old farts reminded Joel that we
would blackmail him, just as soon as his future children were old enough to hear stories about their old man.

And after the honeymoon, Chris was off to optometry school in Philadelphia, where his bride would join him this winter after her graduation.

NOW CHRIS lies in grave condition in a Philly hospital, having fallen victim to something they call Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Today, the updates have gone from
so-so to catastrophic.

It's not supposed to be this way: Chris and Abby have their whole lives together before them.
Bright futures, successful careers, perfect children.

Grave illness is for middle-aged fat men like me. It's for those of us who have the luxury of thanking God for the grace of a life well lived, or mourning over roads not taken and opportunities squandered.

It's not fair that hopes and dreams, future years of marital love and generations to come should teeter upon some existential precipice, shakily tethered to this world by IV drips and a ventilator. There's something horribly and frighteningly wrong with this picture.

It's one of those mysteries we Catholics keep talking about. I've faced them before, real close to home. Now we face another.

And I hate it.

Please, if you have a moment, say a prayer for Chris and Abby. They need them so much, and life is so unfair.