Chris Shimek and I grew up in the same neighborhood. We played baseball together, attended the same neighborhood schools—but the thing we had most in common was we shared the same best friend.
The Chris I knew was outgoing, friendly, cheerful, and abhorred violence against women and children. It is why he became a San Jose police officer.
Something happened to the Chris I knew on Sunday, November 27, when he took the life of his soon to be ex-wife and himself.
There is no question Chris was in severe emotional pain. He called our mutual best friend, Bob White, a week ago. There was no evidence from that call that violence was a possibility, let alone imminent. Bob listened and assured Chris that he had a friend who was there for him.
Chris lived two doors down from Bob growing up. Bob, a year older, was the closest thing Chris had to an older brother and confidante. It was natural for him to make the call. What was unnatural was the violence that ensued.
The couple had decided to split. Lynn was actively pursuing another relationship, which Chris was unhappy about but fully aware. They stayed in the house together for financial reasons. Chris was worried about the effects of the break-up on his kids, his financial future and, yes, he still professed to “love” his ex-wife. He was depressed regarding his wife’s infidelity, but expressed no anger indicating violence. It was a matter of fact kind of unburdening.
They agreed to talk again in the near future. Bob, as is his nature, was there for his friend anytime he needed.
Then the unthinkable occurred. Left wondering in the wake of the tragedy are family and friends. The incident does not appear premeditated, as no one plans to physically “strangle” their victim. But the result is the same.
The kid with whom I played baseball, who dedicated the majority of his life to protecting others, the varsity wrestler who came from an outstanding home with wonderful parents and sisters had done the unfathomable.
Depression is a disease that can have fatal consequences. For many, Chris’s last actions are those for which he will be most remembered and condemned. But for those of us who knew him, his last hours of life do not reflect the man we knew.
Thus depression becomes a contagion and the unavoidable, unanswerable questions will forever remain a pain that can never fully be healed.