Christmas with Chris

Last December, I was visiting Somik (my fiance) at Stanford. I wanted to visit my dear friend Chris who had worked with me as a scientific researcher in Washington D. C. I quit in February 2006 and moved back to India. Chris, meanwhile, had serious health issues and discontinued working. We had kept in touch and I watched with alarm as he kept slipping further and further. His kidneys had failed and he was on dialysis for survival. I had already decided that if I ever went back to the US, I would go see him in St. Louis. Somik did his act of kindness by booking our tickets to spend our Christmas with Chris and his family. December 2006 was the best Christmas of my life. I called him after landing in St. Louis and he said he was unable to pick us from the airport because he wasn’t feeling too well. When we arrived at the apartment building, Chris was waiting at the door for us. I was shocked to see my tall, healthy, full-of-life friend on a wheelchair. His mom and brother received us with so much love. Initially we had planned to attend the midnight mass with them but since Chris didn’t have the energy to stay up that late, we instead ate out in a nice Indian restaurant, and then got a tour of the city as we drove back with them. We took a lot of pictures that night. On Christmas day we spent most of the time at home with his family and then headed out later that afternoon for our flight. At the airport, when I hugged Chris to say goodbye, I felt that this might be the last time I’d be seeing him. I flew back to India after a couple of days and we stayed in touch. I’d update him on our wedding plans. Initially, he had planned to attend our wedding in India. He was rather heartbroken when he realized he couldn’t make it due to his health. I got married on June 21st, 2007. On June 30th we received a call from Jerry (Chris’s brother) that Chris had passed away. From the time I first met Chris’s mother in DC, I bonded with her. Time and again, when I would call Chris to chat, I’d also share a few words with her. I kept in touch with her after Chris’s demise and this Christmas, we thought of doing something special for her. We took some pictures from last Christmas and some others with me and Chris and put them together in a poster which shipped to her. She received it today. She cried all morning after receiving this, and was in tears when she called early afternoon to thank us. She spoke to both of us and said that this was the best Christmas present she has ever received. She wished us many happy new years to come. We were both touched by how much a simple present could bring joy to someone we cared about.

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