Sunday, July 31, 2011

A brother remembers

This is the memorium that my brother, Tim, read at Chris's service on behalf of my siblings and myself. It's such a true, honest and touching reflection of the time that he shared with our family and the first time I've ever heard people actually cheer and applaud at a funeral before!

Moving here from Canada, one of the things that I loved the most, was that my siblings never treated him like "Oh, he's Kirsty's partner, we should be nice to him". They loved him as a brother, and their friendship was obvious from the amount of times they all hung out together - often without me even being there.


Sometime in early January 2000, my sister Kirsty and I, who were both living at home at the time, started fighting over using the internet.

Before long I found out it was because she was chatting to some guy from Winnipeg, Canada.

Three years later, in September 2003 we said goodbye to Kirsty as she headed off to spend a year exploring the Great White North and to meet the love of her life.

In 2004 she brought him back home for us to meet. Chris and I hit it off like a house on fire, he loved music and his love for Kirsty was obvious; it wasn’t long before Chris made it apparent he was not going to leave.

And we gained another brother.

We also gained a deeper appreciation for John Williamson (who knew Home Among the Gum Trees was actually a ‘cool’ song), koalas, wombats, the ocean and all the other natural beauty that Australia has to offer. And before we knew it Chris taught us more about cricket then we ever cared to know.

But it was never one sided. Thanks to Chris we were introduced to real mayonnaise, Canadian bacon, kitchen table hockey and hot wings with blue cheese dip.

The one thing though that broke across all cultural barriers was our mutual love for the UFC and all forms of Martial Arts.

Chris loved his Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do training, as well as running. His positivity was effective and influenced us all.

Chris never judged, Always accepted and never condemned

Except in the case of mixed martial artist, Brock Lesner because that guy is a terrible trainer that grated on Chris’s love for people who tried.

Chris was a true martial artist. He didn’t train to be a fighter; he trained to improve himself and we all admired Chris’ never ending determination to better himself and to encourage those around him to do the same.

Chris was our hot chili loving Canadian, who appreciated a great bottle of scotch, a good glass of wine and could cook a dish that would impress even Masterchef’s George and Gary.

And if we had a BBQ, and steak was cooking, Chris was the Tong Master. You can be assured if he was taking Kirsty on a date it would be to a restaurant that served only the finest.

Since Monday messages have been flooding in around the world on Facebook for Chris that has brought great comfort to us, Kirsty and Chris’s family back home.

From 13 year old Cody Cashin in Carmacks, Canada “I’ll always miss and you are one of the nicest people I've ever met. You taught me almost everything i know... I'll miss you.”

From Rafael in Seville, Spain “I am only sorry now I can not myself carry him to the Elysiuum on my shoulders. I don’t know what I would have been without him”

From Jaci in Perth, Western Australia “A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone. You sir, were a king amongst men, if this quote is true!”

From Zulieka in Switzerland “Through facebook he was a part of my everyday with his silly little quips, cheesy quotes, and humorous tidbits of information. He often made me drool with his culinary experiments and I could always count on seeing Snoopy and the Peanut gang replacing his profile pic during the holidays”

From Jennifer King in BC, Canada “The world lost one of its brightest stars today. RIP Chris Friesen. Your generosity of spirit and kind heart touched many and was an inspiration to me. You will be missed by so many.”

Reports are flooding in for candles being lit for Chris today from Innisfail, Queensland through to Adelaide. South Australia. From Camberly, Britain to Southern California.

Further to this donations are being made from Sydney to Vancouver to the RSPCA on behalf of Chris. Chris’s passion and love for animals was evident to everyone starting with his obsession with wombats to his and Kirsty’s much loved fur-babies Ollie and Milly.

While Chris and Kirsty never had children of their own, you could never say they were child-less. With great pride he talked about his nieces and nephews in Canada and he actively maintained a special relationship with his Aussie nephews.

His title of Uncle was one he wore with pride.

While everyone knows what a great aunty Kirsty is, it was Chris who taught Noah to play golf in the backyard, supervised watching YouTube video clips and showed him how to scratch it up on DJ Hero.

Chris – my friend, my brother.

We will always miss you, We’ll never forget you

And when we see you again

We know it’s going to be


Wait for it



Monday, July 25, 2011

Where the Kookaburras laugh

As recently as this past February, when my beloved Grandmother passed away, Chris and I had talked about what we wanted if something happened to either one of us. Chris had said that he wanted Australia to be his final resting place. Of course, we never imagined that this decision would need to be made only a few short months later. Fortunately, his family members agreed. It would be hard for them to not have him in Canada, but they knew that he had made Australia his home and they never had any doubts as to this being the right decision.

Chris loved Australia. From the moment he arrived he fell in love with the year round sunny weather, the animals, the music, the ocean and the laid back culture. It took him 3 summers but he eventually even fell in love with the game of cricket. The day I knew he was a true Aussie was the day he walked into the kitchen and said something about "Warnie" instead of "Shane Warne".

This is one of my favourite pictures of Chris. It's not a posed picture in front of an Australian iconic building but rather Chris as I loved him the most, just a typical Sunday mowing the lawn. Because of all the rain we'd had the lawn had gotten really long, and to our amusement as the lawn starting getting shorter, row by row a kookaburra started following along as he could finally get to the lovely food (grubs, worms, lizards) that the long grass had been covering.

I love this picture so much because to me it just says "home".

And here with me, was definitely where Chris had made his home. While the decision of Chris's final resting place was made by myself and his family, the final decision of location was left up to me. A decision I never, ever thought I would have to make so soon. And as hard as it was to do, I knew I had to find a place and a way to honour his legacy with the respect and love that he deserves. As a partner, everything you do is to make sure he is cared for, and that doesn't stop when their life ends.

There are beautiful crematorium gardens only 5 minutes from where I live, where sadly, amongst others, rests my brother who I lost 18 years ago. I know without a doubt that Chris would want to be laid to rest next to my brother. But would it be too hard for me to visit two graves of people I loved dearly at the same time?

No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn't get an answer. Too much grief was swirling around my head. I knew that I would need to go there and let the place, Chris, Michael and God speak to me because I couldn't hear what I needed to hear from my kitchen table.

At my brother's memorial site, I sat on the park bench, with quiet tears streaming down my face, devastated at the decision I needed to make, whether this was the right spot for Chris. It was then that I heard from a nearby gum tree the uniquely Australian sound of a kookaburra laughing. And I knew, without a doubt, this is where he would want to be.