I am just missing people lately. This is my “big brother” Dave.
He was, until he passed a little over two and a half years ago, one of my closest of friends, my rock, my debate partner, my activity partner, my confidant, my brother, and the person I felt safest with in the world.
David was smarter than even he gave himself credit for (which was a fair amount). He held a degree in wildlife biology but was so much more knowledgeable than that degree would even indicate. He was the local “nature” and “tree” guy. If you saw a scary looking or cool bug, you could send him a picture and he’d give you the common name, the Latin name, whether to worry about it, and how to kill it if you needed to. He knew about every plant and tree. He had eagle eyes that could spot a deer 300-400 yards away back in the woods when I couldn’t see anything but green. He could see morel mushrooms poking out from under the deepest of forest litter and always got the best haul.
In his younger years, he once came in third in the world in a longbow competition. I watched him make a bow in 20 minutes out of a willow branch and some string for his seven year old nephew that he had to rethink giving to the nephew because it was so powerful it shot over 100 yards. There was concern for the neighbor’s cat.
David was social and passionate about the things he thought about. No one didn’t know where he stood. He was also incredibly quietly compassionate. It was a side of him that I’m not sure everyone saw. He had a love for little kids, though he never wanted any. He was fiercely protective of those he loved. I felt protected.
He was never violent, only strong like a tree and steadfast like a rock. Like Gandalf, he just had a “you shall not pass” thing about him that made people back down before they even started. Everyone liked him anyway so I don’t remember anyone ever having a problem with Dave.
He served as president of a charitable fraternal organization for a couple terms and chose charities that supported causes that had affected his family and led to the loss of his oldest sister when he was younger.
He was the best kind of friend a girl could have asked for. I never felt uneasy with him like I had with other male friends. He never made me feel like something else was expected of me past friendship even though we spent nearly every day together for a few years. Companionship was enough.
Then, my David found a spot on his leg. Having that biology degree, he knew right away to be concerned. He saw several doctors until they finally diagnosed a soft tissue sarcoma. He had surgery to attempt to remove the affected tissue. He was trapped in his house for a couple of months with a wound pump and had to have skin grafts. He went through chemo. It was awful but we prayed it would be the end of it.
It was not.
They had to amputate his leg at the knee. For a man who loved being active and being outside, I watched this crush his spirit. After several months they fitted him with a prosthetic leg and he started to improve mentally and physically.
Then the stump got infected and they couldn’t heal the bone infection. Dave had to have his leg amputated at the hip. At this point I truly and for real began to fear for his life. I pulled away some because I couldn’t deal with seeing my rock dying piece by piece. I was weak and he needed me.
Finally, a few weeks after getting home, he talked to me and told me nonchalantly that they thought they had found spots spread through his abdomen. I knew what that meant. He didn’t seem to. He was saying they were confused and that it was scar tissue from all of the blood thinning injections. He was in denial.
He was in the hospital within two weeks dying. I went up to see him and my friend knew I was there but was in so much pain it was all I could do not to weep. I don’t think even then he had accepted that he was dying. He was angry and confused about what was happening to him.
Dave was 54 years old when he passed from cancer. Slowly and painfully and in the worst way I can imagine. I wasn’t there to hold his hand, though his mother and siblings were.
I miss him every single day. I still haven’t deleted his number out of my phone. So many things remind me of him that he is always with me. Selfishly, I wish he were here so that I had my rock, my Dave. I miss him so much sometimes that it literally hurts.
I’m glad he isn’t in pain. I’m glad he isn’t suffering. I certainly didn’t want that for him and I wouldn’t want him here doing that just for me. I just want the man in that picture back. Wearing that goofy hat. Happy. Whole. David.