It is with incredible sadness and tears in my eyes that I must convey that my dear friend Christine (Chris) Blumer has passed after a 2.5-year battle with cancer. Chris was a passionate wine educator, actor, and writer but most of all a loving wife to her incredibly strong and supportive husband Marc, and a friend to so many.
I can barely comprehend that she is gone as I have never known anyone who lived as much as Chris. In her 40 years she packed in as much as anyone with twice the years and probably more. She lived with vigor, passion and joy. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 it was merely a speed bump for Chris who declared that she would live with greater fervor while simultanesouly kicking cancer’s ass. For most of this time she did just that traveling the world with Marc, writing, acting, educating on the pleasures of wine, and doing it all with laughter.
I first met Chris while we were both working at Sam’s Wine’s and Spirits in Chicago. She moved on to her own gig a couple of years later as did I after few years. We built a friendship over time and eventually we were taking traveling holidays together with our significant others and friends and became fixtures at each other’s homes during the holidays. Chris and her husband Marc became more than friends, they are like family.
We shared a passion for wine and food and frank conversations. We had greatly differing backgrounds, religious and political beliefs, and love (or loath) of pop-culture but we were incredibly and oddly compatible. Through the years Chris became the funny, smart, and occasionally goofy little sister I never had. She had a wicked and diverse sense of humor and nearly nothing was taboo. I could tell Chris jokes and off-the-cuff remarks that I would swallow with nearly anyone else for fear of being shuttled off to some politically correct sensitivity training course. Anyone who knew Chris would tell you that she had one of the all-time greatest laughs in history. Making her laugh was as joyous as Christmas morning at age 10.
Chris became a special friend, a sounding board, a confidant, and an unwavering bullshit meter. There was no faint praise given or punches pulled. Chris was one of the very few people in the world that would give me the unvarnished truth or occasionally tell me that I was wrong.
So many people knew Chris through her various passions and interests and lately through her blog “Chemo & Vino, (A Tumor Assassin’s Guide to the self-catered pity party.)”, her numerous appearances on WGN radio, her roles in Chicago theater, or one of her wine education events. Her blog was an unfiltered view of her life and battle with cancer. Through her humor and charm she gave people permission to laugh and smile. While most with serious medical conditions are in need of a morale boost, Chris spent much of her time making others feel okay about her having cancer. She had an incredible gift for making people feel comfortable and at ease.
While I am writing what she has meant to me I am struck by the realization that many I know will read this and say, “That’s what she meant to me too.” That’s one of the beautiful things about Chris – she was absolutely genuine to the core. We all know how brave Chris was in her battle against cancer but to me her real bravery was seen in the every day as she had the guts to be herself, to expose herself, and perform on life’s stage without a net. You could barely successfully poke fun at Chris because pick the topic, she had already done it and done it better. She embraced every blooper and quirk and proudly made it part of the complex tapestry of her interior and exterior. With or without a crisis, most of us lack the courage to be that real.
Chris, you are greatly missed. You are one of a kind and your memory lives strong.