His funeral was last night, at a place in Knoxville that seats 400. There wasn't even standing room. There were people six deep outside the building. While we were going through the line to hug his family before the service, I was looking around at the flowers and the people and the slide show of pictures of Chris, and fighting against my instinct of denial, trying to get myself to believe what was happening. Then I glanced toward the front of the line and there he was, cold and grey in the open casket. I just lost it a little bit when I saw him. I'm having a hard time really keeping it together now. Even though, even as I write this, I still can't wrap my head around what's happened, when I saw him lying there I knew for that moment that it was all real, all undeniably true, and it was unbearable. It is unbearable. I literally can't bring myself to think about it for very long.
He was in some debt, which evidently seemed insurmountable at that moment.
He and his girlfriend, with whom he was in love and with whom he was very angry, had broken up.
He had been out drinking.
He hanged himself in the garage after he came home, and was found by his mother when she returned from the gym in the morning.
I think his youngest brother (Paul, 14 and normally effervescent) put it well when he spoke at the funeral: "Chris William Duncan would never do this--" but the alcohol messed with his head, I guess. It was just so completely out of character that it seems almost impossible, even in retrospect. I don't think any of us knew a friendlier guy. He made everyone feel like they were valuable and special. I wish he would have done the same for himself.
He was cremated this morning, at 8:30. He was wearing the same beat-up khakis he always did, and his basketball shoes--the ones that matched Paul's and his dad's.