My cellphone rang exactly at 8pm yesterday. I looked at the caller ID and wondered why she would be calling at this time of night. I answered with hello. I could tell she was hesitant. Her first words were "are you at home". My answer was yes. Her second statement was "are you alone". I answered with no. She asked "the dog". I said no Murray. She said "ok, I'll just come out an say it. Chris N passed away today. I said FUCK in my mind and then asked how. She went on to say he was hiking at his park and some visitors found him. In one sense you think, well at least he was out there doing what he loved. In the other sense, you just ask WHY. And unfortunately the WHY can never really be answered. I mean I suppose an autopsy will tell us something, but to me it still does not answer the question WHY.
He was a great guy. He was a young guy. He was a great park ranger. He loved to golf, but I am not sure he was great. HAHA. He loved his wife, family, and friends. He loved fine dining and a great bottle of wine. But I am pretty sure he could rough it on the range as well.
And in a blink of an eye he is gone from our lives forever. Yes, his memory will forever be with us, but his physical presence is gone.
I made it through the entire phone call strong until the very end when I let the tears fall. I handed the phone to Murray, told him Chris had died, and walked away. And then I started my phone calls. The park service is very small and if you know someone, they probably know someone. When I talked to Mel, she well I'm going over my list of people I need to call.
The worst call I made last night was to Pheebs. About a month ago, Pheebs lost some friends to murder. And I felt that she needed to hear this tragic news from a person and not facebook. Luckily the call went better than I expected. But nonetheless, making those calls are terrible.
The park service has had a terrible last couple of months if not last terrible 12 months. Park rangers throughout the nation have taken their last heartbeat. And the crazy thing is that most of them are dying from normal day occurrences, heart attacks, diseases, and in the case Chris the unknown.
Rest in peace Chris, give Gar-bear a huge hug for me, and enjoy the afterlife with him.