Friday, June 9, 2017

Chris King - An Ode to Love

I open the fridge and I see the Peach Preserve that Chris bought one Saturday morning. As usual he had been up earlier than me. As I opened my sleepy eyes, I saw an already showered and ready to go Chris telling me he was going to the corner store to get some milk. When he got back, he had bought not just milk, but fresh bread, this peach preserve and a bouquet of flowers. “You don’t need an occasion to buy flowers for your woman”, he used to say. 

Chris was full of such lovely surprises and acts of kindness. I remember one time I was coming back from a work trip and he asked if he could pick me up from the airport. I told him he did not have to as I could take a taxi and it would be covered by my company. He insisted that he really wanted to do this because he knew how great it was to see a familiar face after a long transAtlantic flight. He was right. Every time I get back from a work trip, I do look through the crowd, even when I know no one is picking me up, to see if someone has suddenly decided to come and surprise me! That afternoon, as I walked out of the arrivals lounge at SFO, I saw Chris with his beautiful big smile standing and holding a sign that read “The most amazing and gorgeous Ms. Maryam Keyvani”. I love surprises and this one was out of this world. I could not stop laughing. Oh, how I miss his great sense of humor and his big heart. 

A short time after I met Chris, we went to the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, together. It was his first and my third time. It was a last minute decision and we had made no preparations, but Chris was a man with a mission. He found a trailer on Airbnb, drove down to Santa Cruz to pick it up and then back to San Francisco to pick me up, all in the same morning. He had already taken his car to have its towing lights and electronic system checked out. When he picked up the trailer he realized it did not have safety chains, so he went ahead and bought those as well. All of these without even telling me, or complaining... We had such an amazing Burning Man experience together. We laughed and danced and made so many friends. He sent me the picture below a week before he was killed. He was excited that he had found the perfect coat for the next Burning Man... I am so sad that he will not be there to wear it on the playa. Burning Man will never be the same for me.
Chris had a genuine interest in hearing everyone’s story and an eagerness to help them out, especially if they had health related issues. He would ask every waiter or bar tender what their name was, and made friends quickly. He really cared. If someone had a medical issue, he would always listen carefully, get a full history, and offer advice. "It is all in getting a comprehensive history", he used to say. If he did not know much about the topic, he would go and research the latest medical articles and come back with a recommendation that was always spot on. He had saved so many lives by doing this. His recommendation to me to tape my knee before exercise and to strengthen my VMO muscle relieved me from a chronic kneecap pain that no one else had been able to fix over so many years. 

You see, Chris had a mission in life. He wanted to eradicate all the chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, that are plaguing our civilization due to excessive use of sugar and specifically Fructose. He was planning to go to New Zealand for the second time in a year to work with the native Māori people of NZ. His goal was to help them adopt healthier diets that would prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and so many other illnesses. He had a big vision and had designed elaborate studies for schools, communities, and prisons in New Zealand. His decision to move to Boulder was based on this big vision too. He believed in the work that Dr. Richard Johnson -one of the world’s prominent researchers on the negative effects of fructose- was doing and wanted to collaborate with him. I did not want him to move away from me, but I loved him and wanted him to be happy. I knew he would not be happy unless he pursued his passion. He sacrificed time with his kids, family, friends, and me to pursue his life purpose of helping heal the world. How many people can you say that about in this world?

I got back from Europe right on the day that Trump signed the first travel ban executive order.
I was lucky to get in despite being born in Iran and having an H1B visa. A few hours later, people like me were held up at SFO.
The next morning, I saw a friend’s live post on Facebook showing a crowd protesting the travel ban. The words “I wish I were there protesting with them” had barely left my lips and he was standing up, telling me “Let’s go”. I was so taken by his willingness to spend his Saturday afternoon like that. It had nothing to do with him. He was a fifth generation American, born and raised in the Bay Area, and yet so passionate about standing up for what was right and just. Here he is holding up the sign that we made together; “No ban, No hate”. How tragic that we lost him to the very hatred he was protesting that day. 

The taste of the peach preserve that he bought that morning and my tears get all mixed in my choking throat as I burry my head in the cushion and cry. Even this amazingly soft cushion and blanket are Christmas gifts from Chris. As I feel the softness of the cushion, my heart aches knowing that I will never feel him, smell him, or hear his vibrant laughter. I cry more and more - for days... I am still waiting for when waking up in the morning will be easier. It has not happened yet, but I have noticed there is a gradual sense of humility growing in my heart -as if my tears were watering a tree of humility or gratefulness in me. I feel so much gratitude that I had the honor to love him and to be loved by him for a while. I am grateful that the universe gave us this wonderful human being and although he was taken away from us too soon, I know he will live on through the lives of his two beautiful Children; children whom he loved more than anything in this world, and whom he was the proudest of. “The world is a much better place with these two amazing human beings in it”, he used to say. The world was a much more amazing place because you lived in it too, Chris. And despite the hateful crime committed against you, I will not let hate and fear rule my life. I will follow your example and love passionately and deeply, and will cherish your memory for as long as I shall live. As Helen Keller said, “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved, we can never lose. For all that we love deeply become a part of us.”

Last picture I have from Chris.. On a hike in Boulder on May 27th, the day before he was killed
It breaks my heart that you won't be here to wear this new jacket you were so excited to take to the next Burning Man

Cabo San Lucas, Thanksgiving weekend, November 2016

San Francisco, Feb 2017

Mendocino, March 2017


  1. maryam it reminds me of "cry the beloved country." maybe it would be helpful.

  2. I am crying hard while reading your story. There is so much beauty and love between the lines of sadness. I am proud to know you for who you are and for the fact that you knew such an awesome person like Chris, M. Love

    1. Thank you. I miss you my dear Polina. Hope to see you soon.

  3. Maryam jan,
    Throughly and geniunly touched realing this.
    Chris was lucky to be with you and his legacy of love and passion for healing the world will live on...
    You must have been throught so much pain which I'm sure will only make you stronger and and an even more wonderful person.
    I cannot find the words to say how sorry I am to hear this painful tragedy.
    But I know that Chris was the happiest man and the luckiest one to have you and that you WILL grow out of this pain and will have evem more capacity and willingness to love.

    1. I can't tell who this is, but thank you for your kindness and heartfelt comment. It has been a difficult journey. Grief hits at random times and becomes debilitating. I am not sure if I am stronger yet (or ever will be) but this experience has definitely given me a lot of compassion for those who have gone through similar experiences. Unfortunately in today's world, there are too many people having to live with the pain of similar violent losses.