Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

Last weekend, a friend of ours from medical school and a fellow Pittsburgh parent, was killed in a horrible accident.  He was young, had two small children, a beautiful wife, and a career’s worth of patients to help.  It was tragic.

The last time that I saw my friend it was earlier this Fall, during the strangely warm Indian Summer that gave my family beautiful memories such as this one at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in October:

 

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I last saw my friend on a similarly gorgeous autumn day.  It was evening.  I was walking with my kids on the way to a friend’s house when I noticed him and his children at one of the local playgrounds. Barefoot, he was chasing them around and laughing mischievously.  I remember stopping and watching him for a couple extra seconds, remarking to myself, “Wow.  He really is an excellent parent.” I was most struck with how much fun he was having with his kids.  It wasn’t fake or forced or distracted.  He wasn’t checking his Smart Phone on a nearby park bench or glancing habitually at his watch as it approached dinner time.  Instead, he was giving his kids his utmost attention and was having a BLAST with them.  Meanwhile, I was impatiently tugging on my kids’ hands, telling them to, “Hurry up!” so we could make it to our friend’s house in time for dinner.  It was a humbling comparison, then and now.

I wasn’t surprised by his merry-making that day.  After all, he was someone who really embraced his life in every one of its contexts.  And now, I think back on that evening and wonder: “Did Mother Nature give him those few extra weeks of warmth and sunshine this autumn so that he could savor it with his family just a little bit longer?”  I like to think it must be so….

That evening, he invited us to play and my kids wanted to stay, but I declined because I didn’t want to be late.  I think I will probably regret that moment forever.  I ask myself now: “Why didn’t I slow down and enjoy that evening with him and our kids?”

I’m trying to process his death, but I’m having a really hard time with it.  It’s partially because life has been crazy.  I’m balancing too many things and I’m rushing my kids through their days, impatient and frustrated.  I just haven’t had a moment to really reflect on his death and ponder the obvious question: “How could the universe do this to someone so young, so needed, so full of life and potential?”

So this morning I took a step back from my life and spent the early morning hours alone at Beechwood Farms with my friend, In Spirit.

It was amazing how different Beechwood looked in December in comparison to this scene, captured in a photograph from only a few short months earlier:

 

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Such a perfect moment.  So verdant, so vibrant, so happy and full of love…

And now, this picture taken this weekend of the same scene, just without the ones I love:

 

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It was peaceful and quiet. But now, barren, frigid, dark, sleepy.  I sat for a long time this morning and reflected on the snowy scene before me.  I really wanted to hate it.  After all, I was cold, uncomfortable, lonely, and sad.  But, I couldn’t.  My friend wouldn’t let me.  He reminded me of that evening, at the playground:

“It can’t always be a picture perfect situation,” his Life told me, “But you can still slow down, chill out, and appreciate the moment for what it is.  Otherwise, you might regret it.”

****

To his children,

Although I wasn’t as young as you, I lost my father too soon as well.  As you will find out, the pain never really goes away. But, I have every confidence that you will follow in your father’s footsteps and make the best of this experience.  You will become better people because of it.

 

To my children,

I’m sorry I’ve been rushing you through life without appreciating you.  It can’t always be a perfect autumn day, running through the forest in a fairy costume. But, I can always find room to savor these precious moments of my life with you.

****

Wise words from my husband the other night as we were drifting off to sleep: “Let’s take this experience, and let it help us become better people…”

To my friend,

Although my life’s journey will be a little bit colder without you in it, I will be a better person because of you…

RIP, AF.

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