A Story: Cousin-Love

“I’m one of Dave’s cousins from Switzerland. Fortunately, our grandparents always put great effort into bringing together the entire family from around the globe. However, due to our busy schedules not everyone could always be at events at the same time. But, Dave came to visit our Grandmother for her 85th Birthday with Uncle Helmut and that was the last time I saw him. 

Grandma had organized a big lunch with the entire family and her closest friend. The day before my Grandma’s birthday lunch, my sister and I spend the day with Dave, Uncle Helmut and Grandma. It was the first time I really got to spend some quality time with him for as long as I can remember. Usually, the family gatherings were too big to be spending one-on-one quality time with anyone particular, so I never really got the chance to get to know Dave the way I would’ve liked to.

On that Saturday, we spent a great majority of the time in the car. Though I don’t remember the main reason we were driving around, I remember very clearly that part of our mission was a search for Fireball whiskey. Now, you have to know that we were somewhere in the Swiss suburbs, a village really, and it was Saturday afternoon (all stores are closed here at that time). Obviously, that didn’t really help with our search. While we were on a mission to find said whiskey, Dave was making hilarious jokes about my sister’s driving skills. I remember laughing so hard, I could barely breath. We made plans to visit him and Marta in Texas, and he spoke about the new house and about his plans for when he eventually retires. He retold the story of how he got the legendary tattoo and the reasons of why he moved to Texas. Finally, we found a gas station that sold alcohol. However, we could only find a small variety of Swiss whiskeys. He got a bottle and we made our way home to Grandma’s. We sat on the sofa, poured ourselves a glass and spoke for hours.  

After that day we all promised each other to stay in touch and we did. Though it was only on snapchat, it felt nice having a little insight into Dave’s day. He would send me snaps of funny faces, of him singing to some song and countless snaps of Mickey. After all these years I finally felt like we were bonding and was excited to start arranging a trip to visit him and the rest of the family in the US. 

The day before we got the terrible news, I saw Dave’s post in honor of a young police officer, who died in the line of duty on her first day of work. I remember seeing lots of these posts on Dave’s wall and every time I saw them, I was so glad that he decided to move away from NYC and start a new life in the relative safety of Euless. However, for some reason this post really moved me deeply and I thought about it for the rest of the day. The same night, I woke up in the middle of the night and for some strange reason decided to check my Facebook. It must have been around 3 or 4am and I was so confused. I kept seeing the words “RIP David Hofer” and I couldn’t understand what was going on. I thought Dave posted that about someone else with the same name or that this was some sick joke – I started believing everything but the most obvious reality. I called my sister and when she picked up, I knew what had happened. The moment of realization is indescribable and the pain I felt, for the family and his fiancee, is something that I cannot put into words. 

The following days are still a blur. I couldn’t find the right words for my family in the US, I didn’t know what to say, who to call, what to do. Quite frankly, I’m still having a hard time finding the right words. When I was asked to come to the memorial, I didn’t know if I should or not. Being so far away from the situation puts you in a state of denial and let’s you live in a little bubble, where you can pretend all that didn’t happen. But it did happen and I had to find a way of dealing with it and I knew, I had to be there for my family and myself to find closure on what had happen. I’m so glad that I decided to go. 

In the 48 hours that I was in NYC, I got to know Dave in a way I could’ve never imagined. The stories about him, the energy of the people who were close to him, every second of my stay filled me with so much gratitude and appreciation for my cousin. The stories made me cry in pain and laughter – he was truly one of a kind. I wish I could’ve known Dave better. I still don’t understand how such a beautiful and pure soul had to be taken away from us. 

My heart goes out to Meret, Marta, Sonja, Uncle Helmut, Boris and everyone who got the privilege to have their lives and hearts touched by Dave. 

I am so proud of you, Dave.”

~ Maggie H., Cousin

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