Charli to Chandler
(Shared by Chandler’s little sister Charli at his celebration of life service, January 13, 2019.)
You know, if you were to search “origin of the name ‘Chandler’” on Google, you might finally understand Chandler’s infatuation with fire. You would find that “chandler” was a Middle English term for someone that made and/or sold candles. The Middle Ages was not the brightest of times, neither figuratively nor literally. In fact, the early Middle Ages is sometimes referred to as the “Dark Ages.” While people did not generally thrive in darkness, candles did. Thanks to chandlers, workers and families in the Middle Ages could function for more than 10 hours a day. They could take safer steps at night. They could see. And just like these chandlers, our Chandler gave us the chance to thrive in the darkness, allowed us to persist through uncertainty and adversity, protected us from the consequences of our own missteps, revealed our blind spots, and directed our focus from the past to the potential progress directly in front of us. He opened our eyes.
Light does not discriminate. Light gives hope to a dark room and makes a bright room brighter. Light does not judge. No matter how dark our rooms got, Chandler was not afraid to light them up. Chandler’s light—that is, his love, his influence, his investment—was unconditional. How fitting that his name should reflect his purpose.
But even with this understanding of how Chandler made us feel, I’ve noticed family and friends pondering, “Did I even know Chandler?”
Did we know Chandler?
Unfortunately, etymology won’t help us here. The word “know” is neither applicable nor appropriate to describe the way that we were connected with Chandler. One could not know Chandler as one knew someone else. He loved to defy the laws of physics with his BMX, diving, surfing, and other extreme sport endeavors. He loved to defy the laws of fashion when he would go clubbing in mixed patterns and women’s shoes. He loved to defy the laws of society by refusing to exclude anybody. It only makes sense that he would love to defy the laws of language. “Know” is a box, and we can’t put Chandler into a box. There is no umbrella word like “know” for our relationships with Chandler, for each one was unique.
With so many interests, so many friends, and so much zest for life, we cannot bind Chandler to “know.”
If you learn something new about Chandler today, which seems inevitable by the looks of this populous and diverse crowd, don’t feel as though you didn’t know him. You did. And you do. You just don’t know how to describe it. Because his effect surpasses human reason and time.
Now, for my letter to you, Chandler,
As I have sat here, writing this into the late hours of the night, I have found myself peeking at the front door. Somehow, I expect you to come inside, stroll through the kitchen, peruse the refrigerator, and then ask me what I want from Taco Bell, or the occasional, last-resort Jack in the Box. You know me; I’m all about logic, reason, rationale, and concepts of the sort—so much so that I used a thesaurus for the words succeeding “logic.” This being so, I know in my brain that this memory-induced vision of you is only a coping mechanism—so why entertain it? But that’s just it. You made us question our previously held beliefs, priorities, values, judgments, insecurities, and outlooks. Thank you for that.
Thank you for showing me what it is to be adventurous. Thank you for showing me what it is to love unconditionally. Thank you for teaching me that I have to paint color onto this grey and white world; but that I also have to be willing to switch out one of my colors for someone else’s.
Thank you for your late-night talks, your rants, and your life updates. Thank you for playing soccer and basketball at the park with me one last time five weeks ago.
Your life came full circle. I think that your injuries at the end were a summation of all the injuries that you had acquired or experienced throughout the years, and they came to you on the bike that you made. It sucks that you had to go so early, but you did so much more than many people accomplish in a lifetime. You affected more people than anyone I’ve ever met. And the end of it all began when you were doing what you loved, riding to a place that you loved, on the bike that you loved. Thank you for fighting to the end through pain and suffering, undoubtedly to allow your loved ones to say good bye.
You defied the laws of science and of reason.
And so, you defy time.
Every light flicker
Every open flame
Is a reminder—no, a remainder—of you, the candlemaker.