It’s been over two months since the decision of a violent felon led to the death of a loving son, boyfriend, brother, uncle, and friend. Chase Passauer’s life was cut short while working at a law firm, when a disturbed client used him as a target for his anger; a target at which he shot 7 times. Words like “senseless” don’t even begin to do justice to this inconceivable situation.
I’ve found it incredibly difficult to grieve his death these past two months. Not only am I geographically separated from all of the people whom I share memories about Chase with, but there aren’t many people in my life who have experienced a loss so sudden and so unfair.I feel angry, hurt, confused, lonely, and above all, unimaginably sad. No words exist in the English language that would be sufficient to describe the weight of my sadness and the sadness of everyone who’s life was touched by Chase.
I didn’t grow up with Chase; I don’t know his high school friends, and I can’t grieve beside them; we don’t share the same memories of the same person. My friends in Spain didn’t know him, so I can’t talk to them much about it either. Even if I could, I’m not sure I’d want to, or know what to say. Thinking about him in silence, alone, each day is painful enough.
Chase and I knew each other for a short time, but a time that was so full of changes, it’s almost like we did grow up together. We first met in Youth in Government, a YMCA mock government program that brings together students from all across the state of Minnesota to learn about democracy. During our senior year of high school, we were both full-time Post-Secondary students at the University of Minnesota. Almost every day we ate lunch together or walked around campus between classes, feeling pretty cool to be minors amongst all the big college kids. Then we became real college students ourselves, living on campus in Minneapolis, and getting involved in countless shenanigans during our undergraduate careers. His death makes me feel like I’ve lost an entire lifetime of friendship.
Chase was more than a friend to me and to many others. Talking to him about my problems was like therapy, because his responses to my thoughts were void of any judgement. I could say anything and everything, and expect nothing but caring and acceptance. He didn’t shudder at the prospect of sitting at the bar and talking about “feelings” for hours over $2 rail drinks, until “Wagon Wheel” came on over the speakers, signaling it was bar close. He never tried to make an excuse to get out of spending time together, even if he knew that the time we spent together would primarily be me complaining or venting about something trivial in my life.
Our friendship wasn’t without its bumps and disagreements. A month before I left for Spain, I was feeling a storm of emotions for leaving my home in Minnesota to make a new home in a foreign land. I texted Chase for the first time in a long time, apologizing for being pissed off at him for something incredibly stupid. I asked him to spend some time together before I left, and I invited him to my goodbye party. Most people with lives as busy as his would have shrugged off the messages, or made a feeble attempt to get together, in hopes the plans would fall through. Not Chase. He responded with a heartfelt reassurance that despite our issues, he still considered me a close friend, and we immediately set a time to get dinner that week.
Those text messages, for whatever reason, backed up to my computer, and they are the only tangible memories I have between us. We don’t have any pictures together, and I cannot remember for the life of me what I did with the sweatshirt I borrowed from him three years ago. Maybe I gave it back to him after my goodbye party. I just can’t remember, but I want it now more than anything. Something to hold onto. But I only have these messages reaffirming our friendship, and thankfully they are enough to give me some peace.
The world lost an incredible human being on April 7, 2016. A beautiful soul who wanted nothing more but to have a good time, and to give everything he could to others. A forgiving friend, a shoulder to cry on, a safe place to store even the most painful of secrets. A hardworking and determined individual who would have made one hell of a lawyer. I can’t believe I’ll never hear his laugh again, the contagious chuckle that filled our conversations over nights out in Dinkytown.
I’m not sure what gave me the strength to finally put all these feelings into words today. I am crying over my laptop, reminiscing on the beautiful memories and laughs I had with someone whom I’ll never spend time with again. I can only hope that someday I’ll meet someone like Chase to let into my life. I cannot imagine the pain that his family feels. I cannot imagine the pain his girlfriend feels, as she was robbed of a beautiful future with a beautiful human being. He would have been nothing short of the perfect partner to take on the challenges of life with. The death of a friend is a pain I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. I just wish I could thank him for all that he did for me.
The YMCA program, Youth in Government, where I first met Chase, has set up an endowment scholarship in his memory. If you’d like to donate to give the life-changing opportunities that youth in government has to offer to kids who need financial support, please follow this link:
Thank you for taking the time to read my words, and thank you to all my friends who have reached out to me to support me from afar during these tough times.
And finally, thank you to Katzie Truso for letting me use one of your photos of him.