When Eric and I decided to move to Seattle in 1989, we asked his best friend, David Kirk, to help us move our belongings that were in storage in Columbus, Ohio to our new home. Eric, Dave, and another friend, Willie, decided to make it a fun vacation trip. Eric flew to Ohio and all three of them loaded up a rental truck and mapped out the journey across the United States. They planned on stopping in places like Yellowstone, and some other fun National Parks, while heading west.
Willie and Dave had never taken a trip out West, so they were excited to see the country. Once they arrived in Seattle and unloaded the truck, they both stayed for a few days while we showed them around our new place of residence. Once they were ready to leave, Eric put them on a plane back to Ohio. Dave absolutely loved the excursion and the time he spent with Eric.
Eric and Dave were like brothers. They grew up in the same neighborhood and became fast friends. They could spend hours playing backgammon, watching TV and just hanging out. Dave was Eric’s best man and Eric was Dave’s. The families were also close. Dave often called Karin, Eric’s mom, his second mom. When Dave was in the Army, Eric would travel to Europe and spend time with him in his unit and barracks.
Dave and his wife, Terri, had a little girl named Amanda in 1985. She was the apple of Dave’s eye. She resembles her father’s side of the family with her olive skin and dark eyes. We were all so thrilled when she was born, and we knew she was going to be a big part of all of our lives.
When Eric and I had moved back from Sweden and decided to move to Seattle in 1988, Dave was disappointed and sad. He knew that we were all starting families and settling down and it would be harder to get together, especially when we lived over 3,000 miles away. Therefore, the trip to move us out to Seattle was very special.
In March 1990, when Dave was 28 years old, he fell ill. He thought he had the flu, so he stayed home from work for a couple of days. He worked nights so that he could take care of Amanda during the day while Terri worked. On his way to work, he would drop Amanda off at her grandma’s and Terri would pick her up on her way home. It worked well for everyone. After a day or two of not feeling well, Dave thought he was better and got ready for work. When he was putting Amanda into her car seat, he felt his heart suddenly race. He told us that he swore that he could see it beating through his shirt. He went back inside the house and called his doctor. The doctor suggested he take another sick day and just rest. Dave was going to be 29 years old in a day or two so the doctor told him to not worry. The next day, the same thing happened. This time his doctor told him that he was doing rounds at the hospital and to meet him there. The doctor wanted to run some tests—an EKG, etc. Dave got there and they started these tests and when Dave was asked to scoot over on the table, his heart raced like it had the last two days. The doctor admitted him immediately. Terri called us that night to tell us what was going on. We chatted with Dave, who was nonchalant about everything. He said he felt fine except for the occasional racing heart.
We asked Dave if this was serious enough for us to fly out. Neither Terri nor Dave thought it was that serious, and Terri told us that if anything changed, she would let us know. The next day or so, the doctors wanted to do a biopsy of Dave’s heart. They would go in through his groin and snip a small piece of his heart tissue to biopsy. It was scheduled on his birthday, March 16th, however that morning, Dave had a slight fever, so the biopsy was postponed. Karin went to visit Dave in the hospital on his birthday. He introduced her to the nurse as his second mom, which thrilled Karin. She told us he looked well, and she was able to spend some time with him. Over the next day or so his fever subsided and they took him into surgery on March 18th. They were successful in getting a small piece of his heart to biopsy, but he wasn’t doing so well after surgery, so they put him in ICU. Terri was talking with us during the day, giving us some updates on how he was doing, and it was beginning to sound pretty serious. We were wondering how a healthy 29-year-old man could suddenly be in ICU after having the flu.
At about 3:00 a.m. on March 19th we got a call from Terri who told us Dave had just “coded.” They were able to get his heart started again and she was able to see and talk to him. She told us he responded to her by squeezing her hand. As we were on the phone with her, we could hear in the background, over the loudspeakers, CODE BLUE with a room number. Terri cried, “That is David’s room!” and she dropped the phone. We didn’t hear from her for hours. Eric and I prayed.
Eric went to work and asked me that if Dave didn’t make it, to please not call him at work, and to wait until after he got home to tell him. At around 9:00 a.m., Karin called me. She was crying. She told me Dave didn’t make it.
I made all the flight and travel arrangements so that when Eric came home, he didn’t need to worry about any of that. We just needed to get back to Ohio to comfort Dave’s parents, his family, his wife and child, and to help take care of the funeral arrangements.
The next couple of days were a blur. So many tears fell, so many questions left unanswered—including how were we going to help Terri and Amanda through this and everything else they would need to move forward. Dave knew that if anything ever happened to him, we would step up to make sure they were taken care of.
At the funeral, Amanda, at only 3 ½ years old, wanted to speak. Terri was still in the back of the church speaking with the priest, people were still filing in, music was playing, many were crying, when Amanda decided to stand up and speak. She was so brave. She cleared her throat and said she wanted to say something. She looked over at the casket, pointed, and told everyone that was her daddy. That he was in heaven now, but she knew he could hear her. She told us that she loved him very much and she missed him. Amanda then bowed, said thank you, and sat back down. You could hear a pin drop it was so silent. In the distance, I could hear a few sniffles and a few people sobbing. What a brave young child who loved her dad like non other.
This loss, while especially difficult for Eric, hit us hard. It was the first time in our lives that we really realized how short life was. How one day everything could be fine and the next it could all end. We talked and decided then that we were going to change. We did not want to put off doing things we could do today. We wanted to live each day of our lives like it was our last. We decided to not be so casual about time and life events. There would be no fear of trying new things. There would be no waiting until the perfect time. Life is too short, and no one really knows what God has planned for any of us. We decided we were grabbing the horse by the reins we would live our best life—no regrets.
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