Nearly three weeks ago my darling Chris passed away and I’ve been humming and hawing whether or not to write this post. Is the internet really the right place for something like that? Is it morbid to write about death and a blog? But then I was thinking of all the support I’ve received via social media and how much that meant to me. I was thinking of all the friends Chris has all over the world, who could not be at his funeral to say goodbye. So many people had come to me afterwards to thank us as a family for making it such personal service, such a beautiful farewell. So I want you all to get a chance to read the words that were spoken. I hope it will give you a chance to have your own goodbye!
Christopher Daniel Corballis as remembered by his twin brother Anthony
Chris struggled with an illness first identified when he was just 15 and by his early twenties he knew that he would need a liver transplant at some state in his 30’s. But true to his nature he never let that affected how he lived his life. He was officially put on the liver transplant list over 3 years ago.We remember in our thoughts and prayers, those charitable, and self less people who carry donor cards or, who in the last actions of their lives seek to give hope and life to others.Sadly for Chris this chance did not come soon enough, instead cancer took hold as can happen, and just two weeks later he had left us. But in his 33 years Chris achieved so much and I wanted to share with you but a few of my thoughts and memories.
Chris was born in Tipperary living his early years on the farm in Coolmore Stud and later in Clonbrogan, the family home. From an early age he had a great love of the outdoors, including a love of climbing. Many an apple, lobbed at me from a height would warn me that he was nearby. Even at this age his perseverance and competitiveness came to the fore always wanting to climb the most difficult trees and go at least one branch higher than me.
Another key part of his life that started early was Taekwondo where a group of us from Moyglass National School would troupe into Fethard twice a week. This was something he continued through secondary school in Glenstal Abbey and finally becoming a black dan and instructor with the UCD Tae Kwon Do club. Other sports like target shooting at UCD was also a draw to his precision and focus although I think the opportunity to re-wire and re-build the range in UCD gave him as much fun as the shooting.
To those of us who knew his joy in making and building lego models (and occasionally taking his brothers model to pieces) his love of all electronics from wiring musical sets, to video recording and editing and the pleasure he took in numbers and analytics it was no surprise that Chris ended up in engineering. In his 4 years in the UCD Engineering Building he met and made so many special friends and had so many great times. In particular his crossword skills will never be forgotten. From UCD he moved to the ESB a job that brought him great pleasure and new challenges. Although his becoming a union rep did result in some lively debates at the dinner table. As a union rep he always fought for fairness and equality for all. He always made a point of standing up for those he worked with to ensure they were well represented and he always got the best for others.
However above all else Chris loved horses and equestrian sports, from the muddy hunting field of Tipperary, though Powerstown race course with the pony club to eventing. So many different ponies, horses & hacks around Clonbrogan, it is a pursuit he shared with his whole family, Tim, Clare, sister Tash and wife Nicole as well as so many of his great friends.
Here his competitive streak and dedication came to the fore again, pushing always up he competed in many international events. Represented the Tipperary Pony Club in the UK and went on to represent Ireland Internationally at young rider level. Always one to give back in later years he became a chief steward with Eventing Ireland. He also loved teaching and was a legendary instructor in Area 3 for this bareback puissance competitions. However his favourite trick was to bring his class through the deepest river and have them practice sitting trot without stirrups, until at least half of them had gone for a swim.
However many of us will remember him for those moments off the horse as well as on. He was ever the life and soul of the party at whatever international he happened to be at. His sense of fun and that mischievous glint in his eye will be well known to us all. These two sides of him found the perfect outlet when he went to his first International Student Riding Competition or SNRC. There are too many gala balls, fancy dress parties and wild stories for me to cover even a part of them here. But his many friends have so many great memories and photos of those wonderful times. He stayed involved well past his own student days and was determined that fun would be enjoyed by many more people.
It was at a Student Riding Competition that he met his wife and soul mate Nicole. Their shared joy of life made them the perfect couple. Together they made their home near here in Timoole and their love and happiness together was equalled only by the recent addition of Ciaran to their family. As those of you who have met Ciaran and spent time with him know, that cheeky grin and mischievous glint lives on in a son who already is so much like his father.
Chris was so vibrant and full of life in all that he did and I will always remember his energy and dedication to everything he did. His determination, friendship and compassion is an example to us all and a reminder to cherish every day we have. Farewell my twin, someone has tripped that final fuse, and you must go now. But I know you are working up there to get the lights back on and I promise you that your light and memory will continue to shine in me and all those who love you so very much. You will be missed but you will never be forgotten.
Just a little over four years ago Chris and I were standing in a church together. All dolled up and giddy with excitement. We promised each other to love and to hold – in sickness and in health – till death does us pt. Never did we imagine how soon this was going to be.
When Chris was first put on the transplant list he asked me: “Had you known that this was going to be our future, would you still have wanted to be with me?” I replied: “Honey, I’m a nurse. I knew! And yes of course because the only alternative is not being with you and that is not an option”. Chris hugged me and said: “Awe, I should have married you sooner”.
I meant it then and I mean it now. I’d rather have had eight years with Chris, than fifty with anybody else. Yes eight years might not seem like a long time but boy, did we not waste it. Chris has given me everything and anything I could ever have hoped for. The biggest gift and blessing of all was making me the mother of our beautiful happy little chappy Ciaran. There could not be a better legacy for my darling husband.
As soon as the news of Chris passing was shared, the tributes started pouring in. My phone kept buzzing with heartfelt messages from all over the world. All the friends Chris’ has made over the years, trying to come to terms with this and describing him as they knew him: An awesome human, the kindest man, an amazing person and a true gent. They were thanking him for all the joy, care, wisdom, fun, laughter and dancing he has given them.
Yes, to me he was all of that and so much more. And today and want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being here and carrying me and us through this very difficult time. One friend sent me a message ending with: He really loved you, remember that. I gives me great comfort to be able to say: I know – I really know. And I love him and he knew too!
One of Chris’ favourite songs for sad times is called “two island swans” and he always joked that he will play it at my funeral. Well – my one and only – my everything – today I’m gonna play it for you!
Two island swans, mated for life,
And his faithful heart would not consider any other wife.
For three years peaceful joy midst the rushes of the pond,
Proud and gentle was the loving of the last two island swans.
Their love was like a circle, no beginning and no end,
With his lady by his side a treasure and best friend.
The pond was all so peaceful in the rising of the sun,
Young and free at the island breeze their life had just begun.
‘Til a dread day in November when the searing cold did start,
Stalked the hunter with his bow and put an arrow through her heart.
Husband come to my side let your feathers warm my pain,
For I feel I will not spend another day with you again.
And the cold winds blow,
He was brave but he’s laid low.
By her body in the isle of mist,
I saw him give her one last cold kiss, one last cold kiss.
Of swans the people talk of only one in this days tide,
Through they brought him twenty ladies he would take no other bride.
They say he will not move from the place where she did fall,
Once so proud he’s beaten now and he will not rise at all.
And to round it off I’m sharing this link with you. It is a weekly podcast of two very dear friends of mine. In this episode they’re remembering Chris. So have a listen if you fancy…just make sure you have the tissues ready!!
Liz + Lina: #10 > it’s ok to feel what you feel: in loving memory of an incredible man.