Chris Severy Day (Weekly Inspiration)

On October 12, 1998, I was deeply impacted by the death of a friend Chris Severy.  He was one of the brightest, friendliest, and most talented people I have ever known, and he was far too young to die.  It was a morning like any other when he hit a tree while riding his bike down Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  I am pretty sure when Chris woke up that morning he had no idea that it would be his last.  I had a hard time coming to terms with the idea that in one moment life can seem long, full of possibilities, and dreams waiting to come true, while in the next moment it can just end.  I had just turned 28, and for the first time in my life, I think I understood my own mortality.  If Chris could die in an instant, anyone could.

About two years after his death, I started an annual tradition with my high school students  to help me deal with a loss I still didn’t understand.  Each year on October 12th, I would tell a few stories about some of my memories of Chris and share how he died.  I pledged, along with my students, that once a year we should set aside a day and let all the important people in our lives know how important they are, how much we love them, and how much better our lives are because we know them.  It was a way to get straight with the world, resolve petty conflicts, and forgive wrong doings.  I would remind myself, and my students, that none of us know when we will meet our tree or have our time run out.  We are crazy not to take a few moments every year to get straight in our relationships, and make certain that the people we love the most, know how we feel, and that we appreciate them being in our lives.

I no longer have a class to stand in front of and tell these stories, but I have many former students who read this blog and remember the stories.  I know there are other readers of this blog I have never met, or had in my classes, but you are still invited to celebrate this day and this pledge with us.  Post a kind shout out on your facebook profile, send out a few emails, hand write a note or two, make a phone call you have been putting off, or whatever you feel you need to do just in case you meet your tree sooner than later.

I am so thankful to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who have added more life to my days than I can quantify.  I love all of you!  To my former students – Know that I learned more from you over the years, than you ever did from me!  You have shaped my life and the person I am today!  To the friends I have yet to meet – I love you too and look forward to our adventures together!  Happy Chris Severy (Sev) Day!

    • Valerie Goodin
    • October 12th, 2010

    A very moving tribute and a lot to think about. Thanks, Tim!

    • Rick Phelps
    • October 12th, 2010

    I came to a similar realization regarding mortality several years ago. I was driving down the highway, taking my son to a friend’s birthday party, when through my rearview mirror I saw a car come out of the sky and land on top of the car just behind us. We were close enough that I heard pieces of the car hit the back of our car. The car had lost control coming from the opposite direction, crossed the bowl shaped median, went airborn, and crushed the car behind us when it came down. The 2 people in the crushed car were killed. I had a couple of days of “the shakes” and ended up with a different outlook on life.

    Happy Chris Severy Day!

    • Ma Gouch
    • October 12th, 2010

    Tim, Of all the beautiful stories you have written and posted, this is by far the most beautiful! Chris was an amazing young man, with so much to live for. He inspired so many people! It was such a heart-wrenching day (and the days to follow) when he died. I woke up this morning thinking about him, so thank you for this blog today. You’re the best!

    Happy Chris Severy Day!

  1. Tim, thanks for sharing your memories of Chris in such a beautiful way! Sev was one of my closest friends in College. He inspired me and taught me things in that I carry with me to this day. The pain and loss of that day 12 years ago still makes me numb, but my memories of Chris still bring a smile to my face!

    Happy Chris Severy Day to everyone!

    • Kevin Dorr
    • October 12th, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Tim. Your action of making this day a day to remember, reach out and remind friends and those you love that how important they are to you is very inspiring. I plan to do the same today. Thank you.
    Happy Chris Severy Day!

    • Amy Benson May
    • October 12th, 2010

    Hi Tim,

    I don’t know if you remember me, but I was an FHS student you coached, and I remember this day 12 years ago. Even though we didn’t personally know Chris, I remember our entire team going to his memorial service, and how inspired we all were by Chris’s remarkable life. Thank you for writing this and reminding us all of the importance of reaching out to the people we care about and telling them how special they are in our lives.

    Happy Chris Severy Day

    • Lorie
    • October 12th, 2010

    Tim thanks for Chris Severy Day! I think of Sev often! Today I am smiling thinking about him!

    • Henna Jodha
    • October 12th, 2010

    Mr Catalanooo….

    This blog brought a smile to my face.. definitely remembered that special psych class where we got to hear the stories !!! Im gonna spread the love now but thanks for bringing back great memories 🙂

    Take careee


    • Pa
    • October 12th, 2010

    Tim. I remember too. I echo the sentiments from Ma Gouch. I am so so proud of you, and the fact that you care so much. Happy? Chris Severy day.

  2. Tim, great post and a great idea. One of my all time favorite books is Running with the Buffaloes. I grew up in Colorado Springs and have been a Buffs fan for years – when I became a runner, I instantly became a CUCC fan. I went Boulder last year for the Bolder Boulder – I made sure that I made it out to The Buffalo Ranch and visited Sev’s tree. I have a some leaves from his tree that I have saved – they are a great keep-sake for me.

    Although I only know Sev from the book, I was touched by his life and death also – nothing like you all were, but still he enriched many lives.

    May his memory live on!

    • James
    • January 10th, 2012

    After finishing the book Running with Buffaloes, I was extremely touched by the book and what a loss it was to lose such a man like Chris.

    I am just 15 years old but I will make sure I remember Chris Severy Day for the rest of my life.

    • Anonymous
    • December 10th, 2012

    I remember October 12th, 1998 as well. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, it was 3 p.m . in the afternoon. The CU Buffaloes Cross Country team was stretching their legs and chatting in the CU track and field indoor gym.
    However, something was wrong.
    Our coach appeared at the door way, head down looking solemnly at the floor. He quietly asked us to take a seat on the bleachers of the gym. No one was prepared for what we were about to hear. Our coach began to softly speak breaking the news of how our team member, Chris Severy lost his life that Autumn morning. A valuable team member and special friend was suddenly gone. Some of the team members began sobbing others were simply shocked. It was hard to come to terms with understanding hat someone so young and with so much to offer to the world was suddenly taken away from us and the world…
    Your tribute page is wonderfully written.
    Thank you!

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