I met Chris Engstrom at his parents’ house on Cape Cod. He was my age, handsome, scrawny, his strangled voice mostly unintelligible. He was an artist educated at Yale and loved hiking in the woods, but he could no longer walk or hold a paintbrush in his hands. The hiking boots on his paralyzed feet broke my heart. But he could raise his eyebrows to say yes, and he could still communicate—at first using a rollerboard strapped to his arm, his hand placed by someone else onto a computer mouse, later with only his eyes using a Tobii. He had a beautiful smile and a twinkle in his eyes—I’m pretty sure he was flirting with me.
Chris became my dear friend. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your fears and frustrations and anger, your hopes and beliefs and love. I’m in awe of your artwork and poetry. I’m still envious of your writing! Thank you for reading the first many chapters of EVERY NOTE PLAYED, for offering me insights and spot-on feedback, for not letting me get lazy with even one word. I love and miss you. Chris Engstrom died on May 7, 2017.