A billion, seemingly random events all led to this instant in time. Monday, May 24th, 2010. 9:49PM.
My brother, Chris, closed his laptop at 9:38PM, putting it away in his messenger bag, and donning his motorcycle helmet for the short three mile ride home from the University Hospital Starbucks. He had been studying for his GRE exam on June 1st, and also doing a little coding work on Nexus, a tablet PC sketching application for his employer. They had a product delivery deadline that Friday, and Chris was catching up on some bugfixes (Chris had attended his supervisor’s mother’s funeral earlier that Monday morning).
At 9:48PM, Chris would be approaching his apartment complex at Babcock and Lockhill Road. Two more blocks to go. Only two. At 9:49PM, a 20-year-old underinsured girl would be turning left from Babcock Road onto Hollyhock Road. According to the police report, she saw the motorcycle approaching, but initiated the turn anyway.
SAPD Officer from the Prue Substation on the scene at 10PM. Chris was admitted to the University Hospital Emergency Room at 10:22PM. Transferred to the Surgical/Trauma Intensive Care Unit at 2AM.
I found out the next day from Chris’s coworkers, by 11AM concerned that he hadn’t shown up for work. They found a news story about a motorcycle crash near his apartment, and eventually determined that it was indeed Chris who was the victim in the crash.
My parents were already en-route to Texas to spend time with us for Memorial Day weekend, a family gathering that would never happen. I can still vividly remember meeting my parents at the University Hospital main entrance, where I completely broke down and without any words signaled that Chris was not at all OK, and that this day would be the worst day of our lives.
Chris spent the next month in intensive care at University Hospital. Ventriculostomy to reduce intracranial pressure, a ventilator breathing for him, orthopedic surgery on his shattered wrists.
The brain injury is severe:
With the help of Chris’s friends and coworkers at Apex Software, and my coworkers at UT, we packed up Chris’s life as a software engineer in San Antonio on Saturday, June 26th, 2010. My dad remarked that Chris’s garage was “a shrine to Christopher”.
The most painful thing in the world for a father, packing away his son’s life in boxes.
My brother and best friend, Chris, was truly the most genuine and caring person you could ever meet. 28 years, and only just beginning his life.
We haven’t heard a peep out of the despicable, inhuman person who did this to Chris. She quite intentionally deleted her MySpace account immediately after the accident, and never bothered to inform her mom’s car insurance company about the accident she caused. Her return to social media a few months later had her bragging about being high, and her friends making fun of her ‘bad luck’ with automobiles. It’s astonishing.
A few things about Chris, as I think of them: Chris graduated from the The University of Texas at Austin in 2003 with a degree in Computer Science. He moved to northwest San Antonio shortly thereafter for work as a software developer. Chris enjoyed building and riding classic motorcycles. He became a vegetarian a few years ago, but deeply missed barbeque. Chris volunteered at the humane societies in Austin and in San Antonio.
Chris is a native Texan, through and through.
Chris played soccer and baseball growing up in El Paso and Germany (we’re Army brats). He played on a super social softball team in San Antonio, and occasionally subbed for my softball teams up in Austin. Chris was an avid runner – we’d always go running together on the Leon Creek Greenway in San Antonio, or on Town Lake in Austin. Those hours spent running would have the two of us invariably solving the world’s problems!
Chris got me into riding motorcycles, too. I can’t imagine anything more special than brothers riding motorcycles together in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Chris is the “real deal”, hands down. He is absolutely the most authentic and genuine person I have ever known.
Update – December 2010: After being forcibly discharged from a south Austin rehab hospital due to a clerical error at UnitedHealth (!!!), we’re at a nursing home in north Austin now, awaiting the “next step”, whatever / whenever that is…
Update – March 2011: We’ve reached the “next step”, and it’s at HealthSouth RIOSA, back in San Antonio (a rehabilitation hospital).
Update – June 2011: Chris is now at my folks’ temporary apartment near HealthSouth RIOSA (we were unfortunately transitioned into outpatient therapy only).
Update – September 2012: Chris finally made it to TIRR in Houston.
Update – September 2012 to now, 2014: Chris was able to go back to TIRR in Houston for a second round, which was absolutely outstanding. Unfortunately, that funding ran out, and he now lives with my parents in Alabama, where they continue to take care of him 24 hours a day. Chris is still unable to speak, eat food, move: he continues to rely on my parents for 100% of his daily needs.
Update – October, 2016: My brother passed away – absolutely unexpectedly – on May 14th, 2016, in the early morning hours at my parents’ house in Alabama. My family remains devastated; there are no words to describe what we’ve been through, nor any words to describe the sense of loss. My brother, my best friend.