Last Friday, my brother David went deep sea diving in Turks and Caicos with a guide and a small group. He never came back to the boat. They found his body on Saturday. We don’t know what happened—we’ll have more answers once we get the autopsy report back.
I’m not even sure how to begin processing this loss. With my mom, we knew for months that she wasn’t going to make it. Not that the knowing made her death any easier to bear—it didn’t—but there is something to be said for being prepared.
But this? This was fast and furious and shocking on every level. As of Friday morning, I had two brothers on this earth. Now I only have one. Just like that.
David only lived in the same house as me until I was three years old, and after that he moved to California, where he would reside for the rest of his life. One of my earliest memories is of me begging him not to go. “I’ll stay if you lick my feet,” he said. Then he shoved his foot in my face. Ah, big brothers.
Although we were on opposite ends of a very large sibling age spread—he the eldest, me the youngest—people always told us that we had the most similar personalities out of any of the siblings. As children we were both energetic, fiercely independent, spirited and not afraid to speak our minds. In this way, I’ve always felt a special connection with him. He got me and I got him.
One thing I most definitely did not share with my brother was his sense of adventure. The man was fearless. He tried every extreme sport known to man, and he excelled at them all. I am a total wuss, you guys. One Thanksgiving I went quad riding with David in the California desert. After riding around on some baby dunes for a few minutes, I stopped the quad and started crying. I was terrified of tipping over and dying. My brother turned around, comforted me and then escorted me back to the campsite. He and everyone else in the group spent the rest of the trip riding on serious dunes, and I drove around on the flats near our campsite. This was A-OK with me—my brother could be adventurous for both of us.
In addition to being a badass thrill seeker, David was many things—tough on the outside and a sap on the inside, determined, kind, always up for a good fart joke, outrageously charming, mischievous and the most generous person I’ve ever met.
One day he was all of that, filling the world with his larger-than-life personality, and now he is just gone. I still can’t believe it.
The last time I talked to David was a few weeks ago. He called and said, “Did you notice I haven’t called in a while? I didn’t want you to think I forgot about you.” I’m pretty sure I said something jokingly and unintentionally salty, like, “Well it’s not like you usually call a lot.” He was on his car phone. The connection kept cutting out. I felt like I had to yell so he could hear me. It was, quite honestly, an overall awkward conversation. But damn, am I glad he called. He seemed happy, content and at peace. We talked about how much he loved being a stay-at-home dad. We lamented over our kids growing up too fast. Best of all, I got to say I love you to him, one last time. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
So here’s my one request to you. It’s nothing new. People always say this when someone dies, but I don’t think it can be said too much: call your parents or your sister or that friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Hug your babies. Give your dog a nice, big squeeze. Leave a sweet note for your spouse or partner to find. If you love someone, let them know—as often and in as many ways as you can.
Because life is too precious. And far, far too short.