We had met as residents of an international web forum full of blasphemous, dirty-minded, sarcastic jokesters that oddly evolved into a very real family that's still going strong even though the website that brought us together is long gone. It was hard to break the news to them, but hearing their memories and testimonials about him has really helped me with Dave's passing.
K. and I met up in person with Dave and his wife for the first time in Las Vegas some time back in 2003 and the four of us got along like gangbusters. After that we never went more than a year or two without seeing each other, usually in May. In 2004, he and his wife came out to stay with us and we took them to New York City. In Spring of 2007, K. and I went out and spent some time in Utah with them. They took us to Moab and showed us a great time, even as their marriage was sadly falling apart. And in Spring of 2009, he came out to stay with us and we tried to convince him to move out here permanently, a step he seemed always just on the verge of making.
Dave was as passionate about fishing, hiking, kayaking, sports, dogs, and beer as any man I've ever met, but what he really loved was people. He was passionate about his love for his family and friends. K. says pointed out that when Dave was talking to you, he was always fully present, fully engaged, fully experiencing that moment of his life, and it's true. It's easy for me to think of him as happy go-lucky just because he was so lovable and fun, but that's just a sketch, a cartoon of who he was. He'd had plenty disappointments and worries; he just always made the effort to be positive. He was one of the sweetest, funniest, greatest guys I've ever known.
I'll think of Dave whenever I drink a Yuengling lager, Philly's local beer, which Dave loved with crazy zeal whenever he was visiting. I even have a Yuengling hat that I was saving to give him the next time I saw him.
Dave and I generated inside jokes at a ludicrous rate when were together, silly stupid phrases that—for a time at least—will make me a little sad when they pop back into my head, but remembering Dave will never make me feel bad.
I've been weighing whether or not to go Utah this weekend for the memorial services and the scattering of his ashes over his favorite lake. I'd really like to be there, but the trip would end up costing about a thousand dollars and I'm not really certain what the benefit would be. I think Dave would have rather I spend that money enjoying the company of the living. I can mourn him almost as well from here, drinking to his memory with friends nearby and sharing testimonials of him on the internet with our mutual friends around the world.
If I'm feeling the need for a touch of ritual to mark his passing this weekend, I think I'll do it with a few bottles of Yuengling, just as I would if he were here with me.
I love you, brother.