I have this friend. His name, Dave. He passed away on Valentine’s day at the young age of 39.
If many of us live to be 80, then Dave only lived one half of his earthly life. But despite only making it to 39, friends and family testify that Dave lived a life far fuller than most 80 year-old folks.
I first met Dave at Rockyview Alliance in the early 90s. Eventually Dave and I became housemates while he attended school at SAIT and I was working (what seemed) a million jobs. Dave was the kind of housemate that could drive you crazy with all his ski and wind surfing gear piled up in our living room.
Having grown up in BC’s interior, Dave was a pioneer of amateur extreme sports. He led our friends and me on adventures we would have never done of our own initiative. On one of these outings, about six friends went ice caving with Dave in Kananaskis (with only a couple of flashlights), only to realize we’d all completely missed the safety/hazard instructions and warnings clearly posted in the park’s parking lot. Thanks be to God that none of us were injured or suffered sever hypothermia.
Another time, Dave took us downhill skiing out-of-bounds in search of virgin waist-deep powder. In my mind, Dave was the Superman, or maybe better described the SuperDave of skiing. Usually, Dave would “let” me ski down safely down below the cliff he wanted free fall from, “Just to make sure no objects in his way below.” Thinking about it years later, I’m pretty sure he knew exactly where he was going and he was just giving me a way out that would be slightly less terrifying.
On a ski trip to Sunshine, I recall riding with Dave in his 1969 Chevy Nova, the kind of car that was in a constant state of repair (almost like my blog). If the car had been art, it would have been a continual work-in-progress, but Dave was mechanically minded enough to keep it running (and getting us from A to B, and back from B to A). Just outside of Calgary, the muffler disconnected from the engine manifold, so Dave pulled over, disconnected it and put it in the trunk–he would fix it three or four weeks later. That weekend I experienced the loudest car-ride I ever recall in my life.
Years later, Dave married his beautiful bride, Katherine. As couples, Karen and I went to Rosebud Theatre with them–Katherine worked at Rocky Mountain College and had an in for discount tickets. Katherine complemented Dave perfectly–it was delightful to spend time with them.
Eventually Karen and I moved away from Calgary. Many years later just before my family moved back to Calgary, I happened upon a birth announcement from Dave and Katherine. We hadn’t connected in years, so I was curious to locate them on FB. Sure enough, I we found Katherine, but upon returning to Calgary I was saddened to learned that Dave had been battling cancer of the spine.
For the next three years, it was good to get re-acquainted with Dave, Katherine, and their three kids. Both our family’s kids were of similar ages and we enjoyed doing things together like tobogganing and going for tea and coffee. Most interestingly for me was the maturity that had happened in Dave’s life. He still had is zany sense of humor and passion for life, but God had granted him wisdom and leadership. Dave was inspiring and a catalyst for me to explore hosting our own home small group.
In many ways, the last three years have been puzzling ones. It has been painful to watch a friend eventually lose his battle with cancer, only to leave behind his wife and three children. In the midst of it and because of Dave’s battle, it has ignited a passion for prayer that I never knew before. And despite praying often and frequently for Dave’s recover, God chose to take him home before he turned 40.
There will always be those hard questions: Why would God take home a shining light like Dave? Why would Dave have to suffer and for so long? And why would God widow a wife and her children, leaving them without their loving Dad? These are difficult questions to wrestle with, but in the midst of it all, we know and trust God has a plan, mysterious as it might seem at times.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
I will always be thankful for my friend Dave, and for the time we were given as friends here on earth. I’m convinced this world could use more Daves; A great and loving Dad, and a man after God’s own heart. He was a guy who challenged me to move out of my comfort zone in both adventure and spiritual pursuits.
Dave’s life serves as a personal reminder; none of us can be sure about what lies ahead. In his life, Dave inspires us to figure out what’s most important, and to passionately pursue those things wholeheartedly. In death, Dave’s life reminds us to remain focused on eternity and the things that really matter.
Many thanks, Dave. You lived a full and admirable life. Until we meet again, my old friend.