That Last Walk

Just over a year ago – as it ultimately turned out – I took my last walk with my very good friend Chris Gulker.

As last year’s post notes, Chris, Lily and I had been walking almost every Tuesday and Thursday morning for two years. Our walks together were such good fun. We solved all of our problems on these walks and came away invigorated. Very much kindred spirits, Chris and I had only met a year or so before we began our walks.

Chris Gulker

When I wrote last year’s post, I was traveling in India – having left for that trip just after having taken what turned out to be my last walk with Chris. I remember writing my thoughts then from far away – about how we’d had such good times together on these morning walks. About what an inspiration Chris was for me – learning new things, sharing our thoughts, just enjoying each others’ company. Thinking back now, also about how he had such patience with Lily, much more patience than I.

And, I especially remember very much not wanting to title that post The Last Walk. I hoped I’d be able to come home from my travels and do a few more walks with Chris. I’d hoped our walk had been just a milestone – two years walking. But, that wasn’t to be. It had been our last walk. When I got back home, we shared new times together as he bravely dealt with the harsh realities of life – but we didn’t walk together again.

Chris was a great teacher for me in so many ways. His zest for life, his infectious laugh and smile, his love for his family and friends – all stand out in my memories. Plus his great talent as a photographer and his love for learning. It doesn’t get any better.

I’m not exactly sure what it was that brought us together – for that first breakfast meeting – but it was something very special. I’ve come to appreciate this kind of special serendipity when it happens. And, to respect it.

Two Years Walking

Beginning on July 15, 2008, Chris Gulker and I (along with Lily, our Cavalier King Charles spaniel) began a regular walk routine every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Most days, we walked a 1.5 mile loop around Chris’ neighborhood – chatting about all manor of things, events, life and just generally enjoying each other’s company. Lily always managed to keep us moving – tugging as she always does on her leash and helping to protect Chris and I from the big SUVs she’s convinced are barreling down on us.

We became great pals along the way – as we logged what I figure is over 250 miles of walking together. We finished our walks and conversation over coffee – just a great way to begin a morning!

This past Monday – marking our rough two year anniversary of these morning walks – Chris, Lily and I took another one of our walks around the neighborhood. But, our walk this particular mid-July morning was a short one – just around the block.

As Chris wrote over the weekend on his blog, there was the terrible news last week that several new tumors had appeared in his brain. The physical effects on his stamina had begun to weaken him – so we kept this walk short.

I’m now in Asia traveling on business – but I’m looking forward to getting home again soon for what I hope might be a few more short walks with Chris. He’s a great pal, helping me get some much needed exercise, teaching me a bunch about so many things – photography, cooking, technology, faith and more – but, most importantly, sharing his wonderful perspectives on life.

As he and Linda bravely confront this terrible disease, they are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Riding Shotgun

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, when our mutual schedules permit, Lily and I take a short early morning drive over to Chris Gulker‘s house so that we can take a 1.5 mile walk together. We’ve gradually been kicking up the pace – I think this morning we actually set a record time!

Lily Riding Shotgun

The walk feels great – gets me a nice incremental dosage of weekly exercise (that I undoubtedly otherwise wouldn’t get). Chris and I always solve many of the world’s problems along the way – and really enjoy each others company!

Lily benefits from all that exercise too – so many new smells! – and she’s always very excited about heading to Chris’ house. This morning, for some reason, she had her head up looking out the window almost the whole way over. This picture of her (appropriately blurry and noisy!) captures some of her excitement – as she rides “shotgun”.

PS: Don’t worry about her being loose in the car – she’s always in her crate for anything beyond this few block ride!