My great friend Critt Graham passed away this last weekend. We had worked together over ten years on many corporate assignments. Getting to work with Critt was always inspired and fun. He was open to everything and never stopped trying to see the world in new ways. I will miss him terribly.
Critt had a crazy way of saying "hello" that somehow came out as a drawn out "yellow." I wrote this to be read at his funeral tomorrow in Atlanta:
Critt was always up for adventure. Wherever we went - and we went around the world together at least twice - he was always looking for something new. Whatever the room- and this included many corporate conferences rooms - we turned into our creative playrooms. Whatever music we played - from Hank Williams to Tom Waits - he loved. Critt was always the biggest heart in the room, and always the most generous.
So while I am alittle mad at Critt for going on this next life adventure so early, this is how I picture things are going for him this week.
Critt wakes up. Another strange room away from home, but he never asks, "where am I" - he gets to be the great Critt Graham for all this life and now.... the next. He takes a good shower. Lots of hot water, good pressure, the big waterfall nozzle is really high up. Lots of room in the shower for a big guy. Puts on a fluffy white rob - super happy it is his size, they are rarely big enough. This is a good sign. Shaves close - really good razor, plenty of fresh blades.
Critt gets dressed. Puts on the favorite suit he had made in Hong Kong on a Compaq annual report trip. Black of course. The monogram reads, "Ritt Raham." His favorite fountain pen is tucked on the inside. The right jacket pocket is full of napkins he has drawn on. He reaches way down to slip on the brown shoes he bought in Milan then had dyed black. Checks himself in the mirror and thinks, "Well...considering all that is going on....I am looking pretty good. Let's go meet the man."
Critt has never been intimidated. Never had a room, no matter how full of big important people he couldn't work. Sometimes by saying almost nothing. Sometimes by doodling away, multitasking long before blackberries and iphones, working ideas around the block and back again. Often just by being the nicest guy anyone had met.
So he knocks at the gates. Big gates. Critt is big. He is good.
No answer. Knocks again.
Now the thing about heaven is that you are transparent. They can see right through you. If you are a big liar, they can see all your lies piled up. If you have a bunch of secrets, they see them all. So Critt arrives and they are all....speechless. They have never seen anyone like him, let alone someone even named, "Critt." "Heh guys, come check Critt out! Have you ever seen anyone like him? All heart. Seriously 100 per cent heart. I see a brain there, but the rest is all heart. We have to give him the royal treatment."
Then a little fight breaks out in heaven. Everyone is pushing and shoviing, wanting to be with Critt.
Critt was thinking he could finally retire and paint birds from above or at least bird's eye view, but no luck. He gets out his appointment book and starts filling it up. It is just now, it goes on for eternity.
Down below we are all gathered here. The biggest heart in the room is missing and that totally sucks. All the fun we had doing corporate work - of all things - is gone.
If someone could just reach up and turn on the sprinklers we would be fine. Critt planted seeds in all of us. Our inner "yellows." He would not be happy if we didn't make the best of everything. Didn't try out the newest technology before it was even ready. Didn't look at every scene like a picture we needed to make our own.
Critt's was all heart. We were all so lucky to share it.