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20 years of memories and wanting for more

Delivered on September 29, 2018

Remembering My Friend Chad

I met Chad at the bus stop in high school. We had a mutual friend and gradually started talking together, not surprisingly, about baseball. We became convinced we had the know-how to create a top-notch fantasy baseball team to compete with anyone. While the baseball team never got out of the gate, our friendship did.

We started hanging out occasionally and chatting on the phone. I had recently joined the school's theater and convinced him to join me on the lighting team. We hung lights for all productions and operated spotlights during them when needed. We became bonded through this and volunteering through the school's "Key Club".

What I remember most about those early days was the fun we had just hanging out each other's house. He quickly became part of my family, depleting our Cheez-it and Coca-Cola stockpiles when he'd come over and I the sugar cookie stash, that Shirley kept at their house. From the beginning, it was pretty clear Chad and I were an odd couple. Our personalities and interests often didn't align but we took delight in each other's company.

So many things come to mind in those early years. Volunteering as dishwashers on Saturday mornings at Operation Food Outreach, twilight golf outings and one particular night senior year when Chad unknowingly called his parents from his cell phone while playing Truth or Dare in our friend Nadia's basement. Being Ed and Shirley, rather than hang up, they listened in on the proceedings then called us back to let us know.

As our friendship wore on, it was Chad who first suggested we celebrate our birthdays together. When one of our birthdays came around, it became the job of the other to take them out for a surprise evening. I remember one in particular when we went to a place called Piccadilly at Manhattan. Determined to make sure I had no idea where we were going, Chad took me through the backroads of Maplewood and Ellendale to a part of town I wasn't aware existed. The comfort food we enjoyed was delicious and the conversations with the bartender were hilarious. But more importantly than that, Chad delighted in having found this off-the-beaten path place for my dinner. Chad understood me. He knew what I was looking for more than food was a story and we certainly had one that night and so many others.

After 20 years of friendship, I have certainly have more than just great memories of him. He taught me important lessons and served as a role model.

I see one through the lens of his beloved Cardinals. While it's looking like they won't make the playoffs, if Chad was here I know he'd already be looking to next season. Always the optimist for his favorite team and more importantly, his family and friends. When it came to the people he cared about, Chad was unconditional. He was always by your side and rooting for you. In my travels near and far, there are few people, if any, I have ever met who were more charitable and genuine. Chad lived for his people and we adored him as well.

Our lives were lived at two different speeds. Mine much faster-paced than his. In this Chad taught me two things. One thing I saw early on was the value he placed value on making time for himself. If something wasn't Chad's speed or he'd had a busy week, he would be a hard fought yes at best. And Sundays? Sundays were for relaxing, sweatpants and sports.

But I'll never forget one Sunday in particular a couple months ago while we were chatting on Sunday. Chad had been busy the entire time and I had no obligations and had taken great care to leave it all open for myself. I joked with him, "See! I've finally taken your lesson to heart!" It was our own Freaky Friday moment.

Last Sunday was hard for me. This Sunday will be the same and so will the one after that. My phone won't be ringing with him on the other end. Sundays were our day to catch up. This was the case because it was the day Chad decided long ago would be when we would catch up if we hadn't seen each other recently. My phone would ring on a Sunday, I'd smile and answer hearing him on the other end, "Hey bud!"

The stories I have are countless. How to begin to wrap something like this up, saying goodbye to such a dear friend is hard. If I can make it through it, here is a poem I came across a couple weeks ago about friendship. It feels fitting and comforting for today,

“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, The ultimate touchstone of friendship is witness, The privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence another To have walked with them and to have believed in them and sometimes just to have accompanied them, for however brief a span on a journey impossible to accomplish alone”

I stand here as a witness to the incredible human being that my friend Chad Edward Radford was. And he was a witness to me. I am forever changed because of him and honored to have been his friend. I miss him dearly.

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