a hug, a bottle of bourbon and the grilling of some kind of meat

Today, I don’t want to focus on one person in particular, but rather the inspiring friendship of two of my favorite people. My husband Chris and his best friend Erik have known each other for 36 years. They grew up in the same small town in Virginia as neighbors. Along with Chris’ brother, Pat, they explored and played in the surrounding woods and fields. To this day, they are like 80-year old men never tiring of telling those stories and adventures with great pride and laughter.

For Chris and Erik, that was just the foundation of a tremendous friendship that has grown and never wavered over the past three decades. They shared fun and innocent childhood years, awkward adolescent years, fun and not so innocent high school years, even more fun and really not so innocent college years,

Erik’s graduation from JMU- 1991

supported one another as their lives took them in different directions, stood by one another as they got married (fortunately to Sandy and me and not to each other), helped each other out with their first homes, have shared 12 years of the joys and responsibility of fatherhood, celebrated each others successes, and listen endlessly when there is disappointment or heartache. They have grown into these renaissance men who live very different lives but share an incredible friendship.

 Chris and Erik at our semi annual 4th of July camping trip. Secret-spot, CO- photo by Ryan Giglio

What strikes me most is the unconditional love and respect they have for one another. It is off the charts. On account of their careers, passions, interests, beliefs and families, they view the world through very different lenses. Even though their politics, religious ideas, and how they fit in the world are contrasting, they don’t allow them to be conflicting. They both have compasses that point due north. They both have a ridiculous work ethic. They both take great pride in their families. They both have a love of nature and the outdoors. And, they both have a respect for the other that they should be so proud of. Not once will you hear the other say a negative word about his friend, ever. They seem to be able to get each other on a level of authenticity that allows only for support and gaining perspective. And after all of these years, the core understanding they have of one another inspires me.

Tough times are greeted with a hug, a bottle of bourbon, the grilling of some sort of meat, a supportive shoulder, comic relief (often relating to farts), advice when requested and again another hug. Good times are celebrated with a hug, a bottle of bourbon, the grilling of some sort of meat, heartfelt praise, comedy (often relating to farts) and more kind words and again another hug.

Erik and Chris, Fort Collins, CO 2011

As for many years, Erik’s career right now has him on the other side of oceans. Chris isn’t on Facebook, but whenever Erik posts pictures or videos of one of his grand adventures, Chris comes running to the computer. This past week I watched Chris scroll through pictures of Erik’s latest adventure of a solo back country ski trip in Germany. I could see (and hear as Chris literally talked to the computer) his pride and joy of Erik. He was soaking up glimpses of Erik’s adventure by taking in the gear he used, how very steep the tracks Erik had made were, the breathtaking views and finally a self portrait that put Chris right there with him for a moment. I am sure he came up with a hundred questions to ask him the next time he sees him.

 I have no doubt these two have decades of memories still to be made. Erik will have Chris jumping out of more airplanes and camping at 11,000 feet. Chris will be cooking gourmet meals to enjoy along with a bottle of wine and lots of catching up. These two Virginia boys who have grown into Colorado men will sit decades from now, just like the picture above and tell story after story after story.  Sandy and I are going to need lots of wine!

But when all is said and done, their friendship will truly be a life’s work and a tremendous success. It already is and speaks to their character when my boys acknowledge and know how special it is that  “Dad and Uncle Erik are BEST friends.”

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