On a Sunday two weeks ago, hundreds of hearts in pieces gathered to say a reluctant farewell to Christopher Svend Laursen, who died on Feb. 12, unfairly and without permission, at least a century too soon.

Chris was a friend to all who knew him, and to many who didn’t. He was your friend if you met him in preschool, or grade school, or college. He was your friend if you played cards with him once, or once a week.

He was your friend if you danced beside him at the Hot Tin Roof, your ear occasionally nudged by the knob of his elbow, his head bobbing an easy foot above the rest of the crowd.

He was your friend if you sat sun-warmed at Lucy Vincent beach, watching as he spiked a volleyball into the sand, his long and curiously wind-resistant locks shielding a smile that seemed both secret and universal.

He was your friend if you married his friend; that rare breed of friend who partners don’t mind sharing. He was a friend you couldn’t keep to yourself.

He was your friend if you loved video games, science fiction, adventure, travel, short stories, live theatre, live hockey, weird art, road trips, hiking, dogs, babies or Brooklyn. He was your friend if you sucked at Mario Kart; if you hated the city; if you thought Kurt Vonnegut was overrated.

Whatever you loved, he loved that you loved it. He loved being your friend.

Chris had the arresting good looks of an American Apparel model, the soul of a 12-year-old gamer, the worldly perspective of a well-traveled elder and the heart of a Labradoodle. To hear his best friends remember him on that Sunday, it was hard to reconcile so many lives being lived in one body — even with that extra foot.

Some remembered a brother, patiently sitting through living room dance performances set to double-header Spice Girls albums, or insisting on nightly screenings of The Neverending Story on VHS.

Some remembered a traveling companion, a costume-wearing, Renaissance-Faire-attending housemate who was up for anything — truly anything — at any time.

To one, he was the person you always wanted to follow into a room, hoping to bask in his collateral glow.

To another, he was a true nerd: so dedicated to his beloved video games (and fellow gamers) that he traveled to a convention in his wheelchair, ravaged by the twin demons of cancer and chemotherapy, but not yet too sick to play up his condition for a free game or two.

To many of us befuddled by iMacs, iPhones, iClouds and their various unsolicited updates, he was on-call technical support, always happy to help (and also happy to remind you that nobody uses Safari anymore).

To all of us, those of us in the room and the countless others who wanted to be, he was — he is — an inspiration. Gentle and generous, optimistic beyond reason, a nonjudgmental champion of you, of me, of life and its quirks, inconsistencies and surprises.

Losing Chris was a surprise nobody saw coming. It’s a lesson we never wanted to learn. It’s a story we don’t know how to tell our children or ourselves.

But here’s a story we can tell:

There once was a family — a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a sister in law, a brother in law and a wife — who chose not to play by the rules of terminal illness, of death or of dying. Instead of closing doors they opened them. Instead of a vigil, they threw a party.

A week before Chris died, his friends received a text message: “Chris and Kristen are getting married!” This joyous announcement was followed by an invitation to a bachelor party, which took place at the Laursen home. There, surrounded by friends, and at the side of his glowing bride-to-be, Chris was serenaded by his favorite Island musicians. There was food and laughter, and in many ways it was like any other gathering Chris might have corralled, home from college for a summer, or visiting at the holidays. Only this time, it was a party with a purpose. For his friends, it was the gift of goodbye, with all of the trappings of a celebration.

Which, after all, it was.

It was a celebration of Chris, of the love he shared with Kristen, of a family and a family of friends.

It was a celebration of the Island that he loved, an Island that loved him, adored him, raised him, sent him off, brought him home, and held him close.

I marveled at this generosity, this unthinkable gift, the courage and selflessness required by a family facing its darkest days to keep the door open, even — especially — at the end. I marveled quietly, and then I marveled out loud, to a longtime friend of the Laursens who quickly agreed, distilling this kindness into two, perfect words.

“Amazing grace,” he said.

Amazing grace: an open door. This is the winning hand, the last high score of a game interrupted. This is the never ending story of our friend.

Alexandra Bullen Coutts lives in West Tisbury.