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Eric Christiansen: Recent losses

Chairman of the Boards

Posted: July 23, 2009 10:01 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.
It was 1982, an “El Nino” year of record with surf and soaking rain.

That year I rode surf breaks never seen before and surfed bigger waves than I had ever surfed, even to this day.

It was the year Michael Jackson released his album,” Thriller.”

Queen Elizabeth forded streams in a four-wheel drive to visit President Ronald Reagan at the Western Whitehouse near Santa Barbara.

It was the year I first caught a glimpse of my own mortality when I became gravely ill with a seemingly unknown sickness.

Sores covered my body, I could barely see and I lost at least a third of my weight. I was put into an isolation room at the hospital. My visitors had to wear masks.

Stephen Johnson’s syndrome was the prognosis, an extremely rare sickness that can be deadly, and those that survive will most likely suffer blindness.  

At nineteen my spirit was unphased as I confronted this malady with humor and optimism. Coming out of this mishap fairly unscathed,

I naively and brazenly shrugged it off.  It was a brush with mortality.

The last few weeks have been startling.

With the passing of my favorite comedian Dom DeLuise, then Ed McMahon and the one/two punch of Farrah and Michael. I have noticed that my era is fading away.

I just saw one of my favorite films, “Cannonball Run,” (kind of embarrassing to admit, as a filmmaker myself) on TV last night. Dom DeLuise seemed so young and alive, frozen in time on celluloid.

I remember seeing that film in the theater with my friends. Where has the time gone?

It is quite difficult for me to get my head around the idea that was 30 some years ago. I watch as time washes over me and my era fades away.

Facebook has a crazy way of folding time back on itself. It’s like a string of time and all of a sudden we can bring the two ends together.

I recently ran into an old high school buddy of mine on Facebook and we decided to get together for lunch. I walked in and immediately recognized him, but he was different.

We sat, talked, ate and caught up. During this meeting, I found that I had a tough time accepting who he was. What’s up with the gray hair, the lines around the eyes? He looked so adult!

I pictured our times back in high school and that’s who he was.  Then it dawned on me that it is this denial that is the root of my inability to see time pass. I am holding onto something, wanting things not to change.

Alas, time marches on and I am stuck trying to hold running water in my hands.

It is almost impossible for me to grasp the passage of time. It tears at my heart to move through it so fast and glance back over my shoulder at the days gone by. I recently went through a box of old photos and found that the years have changed their meaning and impact.

I see pictures of my mom and dad as a young married couple. I see them with their first babies. I am jilted to realize that my wife and I are now doing the same things. These historical documents now pop out in three dimensions.

I see a pattern emerge accentuated by time. I now look at my photo and the pictures of our kids and family differently. I see a cycle being played out.

We all have our appointed time that we will leave this earth. Only our Creator knows when that will be. My bout with Steven Johnsons syndrome was not my time and since then God has seen it fit to pull me out of many other life-threatening situations.

It has produced a desire to use the time God gives me wisely. If this week has taught me anything, it is that nobody is immune from death. It is my goal to live life aware and in the moment, which is not an easy task, and to build a legacy of love and caring to pass on to my children so that they in turn will pass it on to their children.

My oldest son Peter, 11, has a camera and loves to take photos. One day Pete will be looking through some of his photos of our family and reflect back to the “day.”

It is there I hope he will make the precious connection that it is his time and soon to be his children’s time. 

Through all this, one thing is very clear to me: my world is passing away to be replaced by the one my children are building today.


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