Good bye is never easy. Maybe this is why the Ojibway people do not have a word for good-bye. My Father always tells me see you later because there is no such thing as a good-bye. One someone leaves us our hearts are filled with pain and our minds are left wondering why.
Why is something I have uttered numerous times over the past few days. I got angry with God and dared to ask why the fuck Charlie. Of all the people on this earth you could have called home, YOU chose to call home my best friend. Maybe God didn’t realize how much we needed Charlie. How much Charlie meant to each and every one of us. Like many of you in this room I loved Charlie more than words can say. We’ve been in this place before. We’ve said good-bye before. This is where we said good-bye to Charlie’s brother Connor. Those two were something else and they meant the world to me. Now my world is dim and my faith is hindered.
Our wold will never be the same. Charlie was one hell of a man and he was an even better friend. He stood up for those who could not stand. Charlie gave a voice to the silent and he fought like hell to bring a little justice into this world. When I think of the word ‘Attorney” I will always picture Charlie. He lived and breathed what he practiced. Not to mention he kept me up late at night proofing his drafts and before each court appearance I’d give him a pep talk. I’d tell him “Go Charlie Go! You can do this! You are smart now get in there and show them what your made of!” Charlie would chuckle. I do know he won more cases than he lost. So that is all the proof we need that he was one hell of an attorney.
Charlie was an attorney who loved to play board games and you had to play by his rules. Charlie and I would play board games into the wee hours of the morning. He told me once “AJ all of life’s problems can be solved with a board game and a shot of whiskey.” I think Charlie was on the right track. The outside world seemed to disappear with each roll of the dice. As crazy as it seems board games were the perfect distraction and would often lead to deep conversations. Either that it led to me being tipsy and Charlie’s wild laughter filling the condo. I still say he cheated and I never learned how to drink whiskey like a man.
Charlie had a wild streak in him and was always searching for his next adventure. His adventures found him navigating the streets of Europe, climbing the lime stone cliffs of the midwest, and skinny dipping in Lake Superior. He could make the most mundane things into an adventure. Charlie loved working with the Native Youth and supported out-door adventure programing. I watched him teach young kids how to rock climb, wind surf, and survive in the woods. Charlie mentored and encouraged children to seek a college education. He wanted them to seek adventure and to live a life that dreams are made of. He believed that anything was possible.
Charlie lived a life that dreams were made of and he fought like hell to make sure each one of us had an amazing life too. He was our personal cheer leader always encouraging us on to the next peak. Charlie didn’t believe in settling and if you settled he’d give you hell for it. Life is a journey worth taking.
You may have noticed that Charlie has quite a few things in his casket. A few were put there by me. Connect Four. As we all know Charlie’s favorite game was Connect Four this one happens to be special and goes along with the photo of the Muppet Like Dog. You see late one night Charlie and I were so into our game we forgot about the muppet. So the Muppet like dog took it upon himself to chew on the checkers. That was the only night I ever beat Charlie at Connect four.
Charlie loved Cullen. When he was in town I would come home to a note that read “Kidnapped Cullen. He needed some quality man time. Collect at your own risk as we will be sitting naked on the couch drinking beer! Love Charlie and the muppet like dog.” I am going to miss coming home to a ransom note and having to interrupt man and muppet like dog time.
Charlie was an amazing man and I am greatful that I got the chance to call him my friend. Charlie taught me to reach for the clouds, to bust through glass ceilings, and to have faith again. He was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me and my life will never be the same.
We are lucky because God sent us an Angel and not everyone gets to play with an angel on earth. One thing can be said for Charlie he lived a life filled with risks, love, laughter, tears, honor, and adventure. He lived a life with no regrets and we should do the same.