About My Dead Friends and the Sheer Awesomeness of Life


That is in all probability the toughest weblog publish I’ve written.

It’s a reality of life that typically dangerous shit occurs that reminds us of how downright superior our lives are.

That is gonna get somewhat darkish. However there’s magnificence to be discovered right here as properly. And I promise, this publish comes straight from my coronary heart.

In 2002 I used to be working at a craft retailer referred to as Tall Mouse, making minimal wage.

Throughout my lunch hour I’d research for my private coaching certification within the break room. Whereas I buried my nostril in my textbooks, my coworkers—principally little previous women—would eat their sack lunches and speak about their husbands, grandchildren, and what occurred on American Idol final night time.

The employees was made up of a bunch of cute-as-a-button grandmothers, youngsters who labored there after faculty, and dudes of their 30s and 40s whose goals had died.

Christina Smith was 19, inventive, cute, and shy. She had an harmless little crush on me that she made recognized in the best way bashful women do.

Nevertheless, I used to be extra into dangerous women on the time, and despite the fact that she was 19, an age I had nothing towards going after, to me she was nonetheless only a child.

I additionally knew that if I ever whilst a lot as flirted together with her, Denise, her mother—who additionally labored on the retailer—would have my head on a stake and doubtless put it on one of many endcaps as a warning to the opposite 30- and 40-year-old dudes who labored there.

Once I wasn’t busy with clients—serving to 75-year-old ladies find the bead aisle, schoolkids discover artwork provides, and households discover frames for the photographs of their houses—Christina would come and strike up conversations with me whereas I mopped flooring, stocked cabinets, and re-arranged the endcaps.

C201073E-7FDD-4366-A943-1AAC7259B0FA-w800-h600We had some nice talks about life and I attempted to move on what restricted information I had on the time about goal-setting, going after your goals, strolling your personal path, and never caring what anyone thinks.

However there was actually solely a lot knowledge I might cross on, since on the time I used to be a 32-year-old man who lived together with his mom, made minimal wage, and spent my free time operating round with strippers and numerous different confused females with low vanity, breast implants, and daddy points.

As quickly as I acquired licensed I set off to start out my very own coaching enterprise, and was comfortable to be shifting on from Tall Mouse.

On my final day of labor Christina got here as much as me with a glance in her eyes that appeared to be one in every of each unhappiness and embarrassment, and handed me a sketch of a horse which she had drawn for me as a goodbye current. It was one of many sweetest issues anybody’s ever finished for me.

I hugged and thanked her, and advised her I’d miss her and our little talks.

To construct up my coaching enterprise I educated a bunch of shoppers free of charge, sometimes in teams of 5 or 6 individuals at a time. And together with a number of different staff of Tall Mouse, Christina turned one in every of these free shoppers.

She gave it her all, and one time throughout a exercise she even handed out. Wanting again, I understand that I used to be coaching her—and everybody else—too exhausting. I had one thing to show once I first began, and thought that driving my shoppers into the bottom was how I’d make my bones within the business.

How naive I used to be.

When Christina handed out, that was the final time I educated her. The fitness center was about 30 minutes from her house and it was arduous to suit the exercises into her schedule. At the very least that’s what she stated—however extra possible she didn’t need be pressured right into a nauseous state of unconsciousness simply to get toned up. She was already lean and fit-looking anyhow.

Three years handed and I paid a go to to Tall Mouse to trot across the woman who would turn into my future trophy ex-wife.

I requested the little previous women who labored within the materials division how Christina was doing, and their faces dropped.

They advised me how her neighbor, a 19-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrom, in a completely random act of violence, had thrown on a darkish cape and paintball helmet, walked into Christina’s home with a shotgun, and killed her and her father

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 6.26.32 PM-w800-h600Subsequent he blasted away on the home throughout the road and tried to kill one other neighbor, however thankfully the shotgun jammed. He then walked house and shot himself.

Apparently he had posted his plans to do that in a discussion board for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome within the days main as much as the occasion.

I used to be heartbroken.

Now, I promise you, there IS a constructive message coming. However we’re gonna should go on a bit experience collectively to get there…it’s gonna get bumpy, nevertheless it’ll be value it…

12 years earlier than this occurred—on Might 22nd of 1993—a few mile from the place Christina lived in the identical upscale group of Aliso Viejo, I lay sleeping after an extended night time of throwing drunks out of the bar I bounced at.

Proper throughout the road from me, certainly one of my greatest buddies in all the world, Shannon Stevens, was cooking up some hard-boiled eggs so he might get some protein into these rising muscle tissues of his.

There was a knock on the door and Shannon answered it. I want he hadn’t.

He was tied up, crushed, dragged to his protected, pressured to empty it, and shot lifeless proper there on his bed room flooring.

It was a deliberate residence invasion theft over marijuana cash, territory, and vengeance. Shannon was simply 22 years previous.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 6.36.55 PM-w800-h600

I took this pic of Shannon in Europe making a humorous face.

I’ll all the time keep in mind the journey he and I took to Europe 5 months earlier so we might smuggle some European steroids again into the states.

Invoice Phillips—earlier than his e-book ‘Physique for Life,’ again when he was a steroid guru—stated Europe had higher stuff than what we have been smuggling in from Mexico. And in contrast to these days, a lot of the black market stuff was completely bogus. So Europe it was.

When Shannon’s roommate received residence, he noticed cash laying everywhere in the flooring of the home like confetti and—because the water had evaporated from the pot the hard-boiled eggs have been in—the eggs have been simply burning within the pan, filling the house with smoke and the odor of burnt egg shells.

That’s when he discovered the physique.

After Shannon’s homicide, I married his sister Cindy who I’d met on the wake.

I’ve written about some unusual occurrences that occurred after Shannon’s homicide right here and right here

Now, shortly earlier than his demise in late ’92, I used to be making a video about steroids for sociology class. It was a no-holds barred, behind-the-scenes documentary I made exposing the taboo underworld of performance-enhancing medicine.

I felt like I used to be Chris Hansen or one thing.

Within the movie I interviewed a bunch of my buddies within the bodybuilding subculture, all sporting masks to guard their id. I attempted to get Shannon to be in it however he backed out on the final minute because of the implications it might have on his profession. He was shifting over 1000 kilos of weed per thirty days, so I utterly understood.

There have been 5 guys within the video. Dave, Invoice, Steve, Randy, and Jonah.

Dave died of a coronary heart situation in his sleep about 12 years later. A pal advised me he thought it was from a nasty batch of progress hormone Dave had simply gotten in from India

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 5.58.48 PM-w800-h600

Randy Kravinit Baron

And Randy, AKA Kravinit—who was one probably the most social and genuinely likable individuals I’ve recognized in my life—died of a mind tumor in 2010.

Randy used to name my mother “mother,” despite the fact that he was a black dude. (Wait a minute…there was a black mailman in my neighborhood once I was just a little child…mmm, I’m gonna should ask my mother about that.)

Randy was truly the primary individual I ever knew who made his dwelling as a private coach. He taught me a few of the ropes 10 years earlier than I ever turned a coach. I even used to assist practice a number of of his shoppers.

He later went on to develop into a well known and completed photographer.

Randy wrote a letter earlier than he died…

“I used to be lucky sufficient to know that I might be leaving quickly. Two months in the past I used to be recognized with a terminal sickness. I stored it to myself as a result of I didn’t need everybody feeling sorry for me, or individuals appearing totally different round me.

In case you are studying this, it’s as a result of I’m already gone. I didn’t need to cope with all of the tears and the goodbyes and all of the dangerous stuff..I needed individuals to recollect me as all the time smiling, all the time taking footage, all the time having a good time!

and ends…

I’ll be on the BIG social gathering upstairs with my digital camera ready for you guys to return up, and if I’ve to make a particular journey down for you, I’ll hahahha! I LOVE YOU ALL!!”

The remainder of the letter is posted right here.

Randy left behind a teenage son.

Again round 1985, once I was 15, me and my buddy Bryan have been body-boarding at Salt Creek Seashore in Dana Level California, which is the place I presently stay.

On the seashore we bumped into our good friend Graham and arrange a meet to get some hits of LSD from him afterward.

My mother picked me and Bryan up from the seashore and was driving us house in my household’s burgundy station wagon once we noticed a automotive smashed towards the middle divider out in entrance of what would quickly grow to be our native Goal retailer.

There was a physique mendacity on the street that appeared prefer it had flown although the window of the crashed automotive. We noticed a limo driver get out of his limo and run over to the physique.

cross-w800-h600The subsequent day at summer time faculty we discovered it was Graham who we had seen mendacity there lifeless on the street.

One night time about 20 years later and 80 or 90 yards from the place Graham died, a buddy of mine named Invoice Nastasiak —who I’d recognized since highschool and was undoubtedly the funniest pal I’ve ever had—parked his truck within the parking zone of that Goal as a result of the lot of the condo complicated in he lived in proper throughout the road was full prefer it usually was.

(Proper earlier than I labored at Tall Mouse, Invoice and I had labored collectively for a similar printing firm. There have been many occasions I used to be having a shitty day and Invoice would simply stroll up and make me giggle, pulling me out of my tormented head and placing an enormous ol’ smile on my face.)

That night time, after parking his truck, Invoice jumped on a BMX bike which he stored behind his truck, went tearing throughout the road, bunny-hopped the curb, was thrown from his bike, and landed on the bike’s handlebars, crushing his proper lung and ribs and killing him.

Bill Nastasiak

Invoice Nastasiak

Invoice’s teenage son James, who I’ve recognized ever since he was a younger boy, got here strolling up the road together with his girlfriend, and noticed a gaggle of individuals and paramedics all huddling round and went as much as see what was occurring. He noticed his father dying on the street.

Invoice left behind a spouse and three sons.

Once I was 5 years previous my household used to go to the neighbors’ home and watch previous films utilizing this projector set-up that they had. I keep in mind my brother and myself crashing out of their waterbed whereas my mother and father stayed up with them, drank, ate, and laughed into the night time.

475CF15B-8B64-49F4-AAF0-0062F8D0782A-w800-h600We moved away, and shortly after that, on June 12th, 1976, that neighbor was killed by mass assassin Edward Charles Allaway with 6 different harmless victims within the Fullerton State School Bloodbath.

I keep in mind being actual younger and my mother making an attempt to elucidate it to me. I don’t assume I understood. I nonetheless don’t.

Again within the late 70s, once I was eight or 9, the primary child I ever knew who lifted weights was my pal Jim Sikee. He was additionally the child who obtained me into racing BMX.  Jim was killed in his early 20s when John—the driving force of the automotive he was in—ran a pink mild. I used to be pals with John as properly.

Once I was 15 my pal Becky was run over by a lowered mini truck whereas leaving Knott’s Berry Farm. I keep in mind the music “Want You Have been Right here” by Pink Floyd being performed at her wake. Each time I hear that track I consider Becky.


Imran Khawar

About 2 years in the past, my good friend, bodybuilder and private coach, Imran Khawar, died in his sleep whereas preparing for a bodybuilding competitors. 7-figure Sam and I had lunch with Imran in Laguna Seashore shortly earlier than his dying. Imran left behind a younger son. I blogged about his demise right here.

About 5 years in the past, my good friend Courtney, who truly turned my first paying private coaching shopper (after I provided to coach her totally free however she insisted on paying me), overdosed on painkillers.

Like Courtney and me, my long-time pal Jeff Clark additionally struggled with painkiller habit. Jeff died of liver issues associated to his drug use across the similar time Courtney died. (And truly, Randy, who handed from a mind tumor, is the man who launched me to Jeff.)

After which there was Greg. Greg was a lawyer I knew who used to like to journey his Harley. On a street journey to Northern California together with his longtime mistress—who I additionally knew—Greg crashed his motorbike, killing each of them. I feel which will have been when Greg’s spouse and household first came upon about his mistress.

In ’92 or ’93, my good friend Brian, who I used to journey dust bikes with, purchased a bag of weed from me for a motocross journey he was taking right down to Mexico together with his greatest pal.

A few month later, I referred to as his home to see what he was as much as. That is again earlier than everybody had cell telephones. All of us had beepers and landlines. Brian’s step-mom answered the telephone and advised me he’d fallen asleep on the wheel, crashing his truck in the midst of the night time down in Mexico, and had died.

A few yr later his greatest pal—who had survived the accident—jumped in entrance of a practice a number of miles from my residence. Some individuals assume he was truly the one who was driving the truck in Mexico and by no means acquired over the guilt.

I felt responsible about Brian’s demise too. I all the time questioned if the the weed I bought him performed a task within the accident that night time.


Me on the left, Chris Payne on the correct

After which there’s Chris Payne—my greatest good friend from third grade by way of highschool. For the final 6 or 7 years I’d been making an attempt to trace Chris down on-line. I hadn’t seen him since I used to be about 15 or 16 years previous and needed to catch up. Final I’d heard he’d moved again to Australia the place he was initially from.

Nicely, lately I discovered his mother on Fb and despatched her a message. She informed me that regardless that Chris had a ton of nice issues going for him, he took his personal life in 2005.


These are all individuals who went approach earlier than their time—they could have went in God’s time, however they every had a ton of life left forward of them; most went of their teenagers, twenties, or thirties.

And these aren’t the one ones, they’re simply those I keep in mind probably the most. There are such a lot of extra.

I’m positive you’ve misplaced lots of people as properly.

In the future they’re right here, and the subsequent they’re gone. And someway Keith Richards lives on.

Now, I’ve additionally recognized lots of people who’ve taken the lives of others—on objective.

I knew the man, Jason, who murdered my pal Shannon. We didn’t realize it was Jason till years after the homicide. At Shannon’s wake Jason truly got here up, hugged me, and requested me if I knew who’d achieved it.

He’s now doing to 26 years to life in jail for Shannon’s homicide.

There was a man I used to speak to in AA named Ethan—I didn’t know him properly, however I knew him. I feel he might have had schizophrenia or one thing.

Nicely, in the future I used to be studying the native information and noticed Ethan’s image on the entrance web page—for killing his mom, wrapping her physique in a mattress sheet, going to Starbucks and shopping for a espresso on her bank card, after which calling the paramedics.

Ethan is now in jail.

prison-w800-h600Once I was locked up within the mid-90s for trafficking marijuana, I knew no less than 20 guys who have been in there for homicide. These are guys I ate lunch with, performed handball with, and talked to each day.

That they had killed mothers, girlfriends, wives, gang rivals, and harmless individuals they didn’t even know.

And, identical to my buddies, their victims by no means knew their time was gonna finish so prematurely.

As we grow old, we lose extra individuals. I think about if we make it to our 80s or 90s, we’ll have recognized a heck of much more people who find themselves lifeless than are alive.

Now, I didn’t write this submit to unfold any sort of doom and gloom or put dangerous ideas into your thoughts. It’s not about that.

I wrote this for 2 causes…


I miss my pals. Some greater than others. However I miss all of them. Every one touched me another way and I’ll always remember ’em.

And two…

Life is superior, man.

Nevertheless it’s really easy to overlook simply how superior it’s.

We get to stay, breathe, and love at the moment. We now have buddies, household, youngsters, and pet canine.

Simply the straightforward incontrovertible fact that we exist is way past a miracle. There’s actually no approach to describe it. Phrases can’t do it justice. Nor can the thoughts completely perceive it.

Right here we’re on this superb journey, and we don’t actually understand how we obtained right here or the place we’re going.

But right here we’re. We’re alive.

However don’t overlook, life is brief. We will go at any time. Actually.

flower-w800-h600It’s simply type of constructed into the deal. Everybody and every little thing that’s born dies. Now it’s my very own private perception that an important a part of us—what we name our soul—lives on and is everlasting. At the least this seems like the reality deep down inside me.

However our our bodies and our egos are momentary. Right here someday, gone the subsequent.

In the present day is all we get. It’s all there’s. When tomorrow comes, it is going to be as we speak, and it’ll nonetheless be all we get.

I hope this weblog publish serves as a reminder so that you can…

Concentrate on what’s essential. Let your loved ones know you’re keen on them. Go on superior adventures. Cherish what you’ve gotten. And stay in at the moment with every little thing you’ve fucking received.

I gotta be trustworthy right here; this weblog publish was robust for me to put in writing. I sat right down to do a brief publish on Christina, and 3000 phrases simply kinda spilled outta me.

After scripting this, a part of me needs to crawl right into a darkish closet and cry. However I did most of that way back.

There’s one other a part of me that may’t consider how good my life is, and is way past simply grateful for every part I’ve. That a part of me needs to cry too—tears of gratitude.

I’m additionally grateful for the time I obtained to spend with the buddies I wrote about on this publish who’ve moved on.

I’m grateful for my life.

In case you misplaced anybody too younger and miss them, be happy to inform me about it down under. Or when you love your life and are grateful for what you will have, I’d love to listen to about that too.

Speak quickly,

Chris McCombs

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