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Pride Means Nothing If It Gets In The Way Of Love

September 21, 2011

“Pride means nothing if it gets in the way of love.” ~ Chris Belanger

Chris Belanger was one of my best friends growing up. We played hockey together. We went to school together. He was my mate.

Chris has an older brother, Roger Belanger, who was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins the same year as Mario Lemieux. All of the kids in the hockey community of Welland, Ontario, idolized Roger when we were young punks. He was a stud in Junior hockey, and was drafted into the NHL! When he signed his first contract Roger bought a black SS for his parents with his signing bonus, which at the time, was one of the coolest cars, and coolest things I’d seen someone do for their parents.

A few days ago Roger passed away from a heart attack.

His brother Chris made a Youtube video remembering his “great big brother”-it is painful, terrible, and beautiful all at once-and at the end of his tribute and pain, around the 7:20 mark, Chris makes some simple yet profound observations.

People really need to make an effort in life to be nice to people. To tell people you love them when you do. To take care of your family. To set little petty things aside.

Pride means nothing if it gets in the way of love… pride is nothing when it gets in the way of love.

I have cried with Chris a few times the last few days…

I really wish I was in Welland today. I wouldn’t say anything. But I wish I could give my old friend a hug and sit silently with him as he mourned…

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 22, 2011 3:17 pm

    Wow… what a shock. I’ve been a friend of the family for a lot of years, and this was a little overwhelming.

    After reading this today, I received this email:

    National Public Radio’s Goddess of Conversation, Terry Gross, had a simply outstanding, incredibly moving interview with the author Maurice Sendak on Tuesday’s Fresh Air.

    Sendak, 83, is the beloved author and illustrator of children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, and has just published a new book — Bumble-ardy — the first he’s written and illustrated since 1981’s Outside Over There.

    Bumble-ardy is the story of an orphaned (and mischievous) pig who reaches the age of nine without ever having a birthday party. So, Bumble throws himself a party and invites all of his friends — some of them a pretty sketchy lot — after his aunt, who is his caregiver, goes to work.

    During Sendak’s interview on Tuesday’s Fresh Air, the writer revealed that he was working on the Bumble-ardy picture book while his partner of 50 years was dying back in 2007, and that, perhaps by virtue of his age, he’s outlived many of the people he loves most, most recently his publisher and his publisher’s wife. Sendak told Gross:

    “I’m not unhappy about becoming old. I’m not unhappy about what must be. It makes me cry only when I see my friends go before me and life is emptied. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I still fully expect to see my brother again. And it’s like a dream life. I am reading a biography of Samuel Palmer, which is written by a woman in England. I can’t remember her name. And it’s sort of how I feel now, when he was just beginning to gain his strength as a creative man and beginning to see nature. But he believed in God, you see, and in heaven, and he believed in hell. Goodness gracious, that must have made life much easier. It’s harder for us nonbelievers.

    “I’m finding out as I’m aging that I am in love with the world. And I look right now, as we speak together, out my window in my studio and I see my trees and my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old, they’re beautiful. And you see I can see how beautiful they are. I can take time to see how beautiful they are. It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music. You know, I don’t think I’m rationalizing anything. I really don’t. This is all inevitable and I have no control over it.

    “Bumble-ardy” was a combination of the deepest pain and the wondrous feeling of coming into my own and it took a long time. It took a very long time, but it’s genuine. Unless I’m crazy. I could be crazy and you could be talking to a crazy person. I don’t know anymore and I don’t care!

    “I cry a lot because I miss people. I cry a lot because they die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. … I’m a happy old man. But I will cry my way all the way to the grave.”

    Sendak bid adieu to Gross at the end of their interview with these words — words to live by:
    “Live your life, live your life, live your life.”

    You can listen to the entire Sendak interview on the NPR site http://www.npr.org/2011/09/20/140435330/this-pig-wants-to-party-maurice-sendaks-latest

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