It was just after midnight and I had just finished binging several hours of Disney+ animated movies. I was starting to drift off to sleep when my phone rang.
I looked over to see the call was from Keirsten Greggs and my anxiety immediately rose. I’ve known Keirsten for 25 years and there’s no way she would call me that late unless it was something really, really seriously bad.
She was already in tears when I answered. I heard her say the words “Chris is gone” but it didn’t register. I’m pretty sure I rattled off the names of other Chris’s that we know because I couldn’t believe it. Finally, she composed herself enough to clearly say to me,
“Chris Fields died today”
We spent the next half hour on the phone crying and combing social media to get more information. I think we were hoping that we would find out it wasn’t true more than looking for confirmation. But when we found posts from his best friend and his brother and his aunt confirming his passing, we knew it was real.
And it was devastating. Gut-wrenching and devastating!
At some point, we agreed to try to sleep and to get together first thing in the morning to start calling our other friends to tell them the news. We didn’t want our friends — Chris’s friends — to find out this news on social media if we could help it. We knew he wouldn’t want that.
I don’t know if I can call what I did that night sleep or rest. And the next morning, KG and I made a list of names and started calling. Everyone was shocked. Everyone cried.
It was Easter Sunday, too. A joyful holiday for many. But I cried more in those first few hours of the day than I have in a really long time.
I also spent several hours on video chat with Keirsten, Tiffany Kuehl, Janine Truitt, and Justin Harris reflecting and remembering our friend. I’ll treasure that video call for the rest of my life. People who don’t think friendships born out of social media are real simply have no idea how wrong they are. That’s for sure.
For those who may not have known him, Chris Fields was a career coach and resume writer, who owned and operated The Resume Crusade. He also operated the MVP Presenters speakers group, which sought to bring more diverse voices to HR Conferences. And he was the creative director for the multi-contributor website Performance I Create.
And ever since we met on Twitter in 2011, he was my friend — and the brother that I never knew I wanted or needed.
We started our blogs within a few weeks of each other 9 years ago. And because we were both Black and outspoken about the challenges we faced in the workplace, people immediately began to compare us and try to create a competition. Chris and I refused to buy into that. Instead, we vowed to be friends and support one another. That vow led to the first of our collaborations with our crossover Halloween themed post on HR Ghouls & Goblins. He guest posted here again during my Star Wars tribute with this amazing post about Darth Vader.
We didn’t always get along. We are both stubborn and opinionated in our creativity. We butted heads. Often and a lot. But we never disrespected each other and we never stayed mad with each other for long and we never held grudges … and I must give Chris all the credit for this because I’m petty and, if holding grudges was an Olympic sport, I would surely hold a gold medal. He showed me differently.
Chris showed me that giving people second wasn’t always a bad thing. He showed me not to take myself so seriously. He showed me how to accept apologies and extend forgiveness without feeling compromised. He showed me that a loyalty code can have soft spots in its hard core.
Chris showed me how to be a better aunt — because he was the OG of fun uncles. He showed me how to let love in again after getting my heart broken and happily ever after dreams shattered so many times. He showed me the importance of checking on and checking in with the people you value. He showed me the importance of letting even your platonic friends know that you love them.
And if there is one comfort in this loss, its that I know we left nothing unsaid. Chris knew that I loved him as my friend and that I respected and supported him as a growing entrepreneur.
Now I am committed to working with his closest friends and family to keep his legacy alive and thriving.
Chris wanted most in this world for people to have the tools and skills they needed to find meaningful employment where they would be paid fairly, treated with dignity, and given opportunity to grown. He worked tirelessly to help people improve their resumes and LinkedIn profiles and prepare for interviews so they could land their dream job. Those who loved him most will continue this work … #TheCrusadeContinues
I’m honored to be able to do this for him. I believe his spirit is happy about it. I trust he will rest more peacefully knowing what he started won’t just end.
It still doesn’t change that he’s gone, tho. It doesn’t make this loss any easier. And it doesn’t make me miss my friend any less.