A Memory: Bottles & Dinosaurs

One of my earliest memories must be from not too long after Dave was born. He wasn’t a newborn, but probably less than a year old. That would make me around 4 years old. We lived in New Jersey at the time. I remember being in the bedroom on the bed, with Dave laying there, and my mom. She had brought a bottle into the bedroom, I guess in anticipation of feeding him. I’m not sure why, but she had to leave the room for a moment and she told me to wait to feed him till she came back. When she came back, I was, of course, already giving him the bottle.

I have no idea if this is a true memory or if I made this up at some point. No matter, there are a million little and big memories I have of Dave, starting with that one. Around every corner, there is something that reminds me of some part of our growing up together, which is both painful and beautiful to think about. Sometimes I can smile about those thoughts, and sometimes I just sink into sadness at the idea that this chapter of my life, the chapter with Dave, is now written. Because of that it’s that much more important to try to recollect and write up those memories. I will attempt to do to the best of my ability with my future posts.

An obvious childhood memory that comes to mind is that when Dave was little he LOVED dinosaurs – he knew EVERYTHING there was to know about each of them. He read this kids’ magazine about them and learned about what they looked like, what they ate, when they lived, how big they were, where they lived and so forth. You could ask him anything and he could rattle off the facts. They were his absolute favorite animals. He watched “Land Before Time” a million times, getting upset every time the momma-dinosaur dies.

He also collected dinosaur toys. He had standard “regular” dinosaurs, but also a collection of dinosaurs that were miniatures from a museum in London. He and I both got a set during some vacation. We would build structures, the higher the better, out of books for the “baby dinosaurs” and the big dinosaurs were the bad guys. Well, the carnivores were the bad guys – the T-Rex and the velociraptors. The herbivores were usually some kind of allies. Most of the game was just the little guys going about their business, and the bad guys trying to get them. Or, if one had been captured the little guys would band together and save it – always in time before getting eaten! Sometimes the little guys even helped out their bigger friends, though obviously they couldn’t scale the structures, so we’d have to build traps to keep everyone safe.

I loved playing this game with him as much as he loved to play them, but sometimes, my girly side wanted to incorporate some other ideas. So, occasionally, there’d be a dinosaur and my-little-pony cross-over event. I don’t remember those nearly as well.

A Story: A Smile

“I brought him a cupcake in Times Square on his birthday once. It made him smile.”

~ Marian L., Friend

[NOTE: These pics have nothing to do with the little anecdote, but I think Marian decided to tell me about this little memory because Dave’s smile and laugh were just so much a part of who he was. When I went digging for a pic for this post, I found this sequence from 2010. In the originals, our dad is on the left having some kinds of serious-looking discussion. On the right, Dave is slowly losing it. What I wouldn’t give to know what silly thing we were cracking up about it!]

A Tribute: Three Months Gone (and a Slideshow)

Today marks three months since Dave was killed. How surreal. In this time, I can honestly say that I have done nothing but think about him and the circumstances of his death. It makes me feel like I’m a bit in a time-warp, like everything just happened. But then, in a way, that makes sense. His being gone means a complete restructuring of everything I thought I knew about what my life would be like. I may have had many possible versions for my life when I thought about what the future might bring, but fundamentally, he was part of all of those versions. I say this as Dave’s sister, and I know it’s even more acute for Marta. The most heart-breaking thought, to me, is that when I eventually have children, they won’t know Dave. Someone who was so, so, so important to me, will simply be a collection of stories to them.

I thought it fitting to post the slideshow that Lucas Funeral Homes put together for Dave’s viewing. If you have 10 minutes, and are somewhere private (because: tears), watch it.

David was a son, a fiancee, a brother, a grandson, an uncle, a cousin, a best friend to so, so many, and the funniest dang person any of us knew. If love alone could have kept him safe, he would be with us still.

A Thought: Beauty & Sadness

At this moment, I’m sitting in an Amtrak train headed home to Jared. As I look out of the window, the sun is twinkling through the newly-awoken green of the trees. People are laughing, having animated conversations or just absorbed in interesting reading in the stations we pass by. Sometimes, as we exit a town, beautiful, colorful townhomes form neat rows – the kind I always appreciated so much for their cheer. And, everything beautiful is making me sad. 

It’s been a few weeks now since that terrible day. Initially, and most of the time still, my mind has been completely frozen by shock and despair. Slowly, as this shock dissolves, I’m left with glimpses of what this new world really means: a world without him, a world where I can’t laugh at his sillyness or be amazed by our friendship, except in the memories I have and the stories that are shared with me. 

This new world seems impossible to understand. 

  

A Story: My Safety Net

A couple of days ago, I had the urge to flip through Dave’s old yearbooks. I picked out a few of the pictures to include in this post. Dave and I went to the same school when we moved to NYC in the 1997 (from Switzerland). Dave started the 5th grade, and I started high school. I think Dave had an easier adjustment than me, since I’d had a pretty hard time being bullied in middle school. I remember that when we first moved, I was so scared of everyone that Dave and I would eat lunch together, sitting on the 8th floor of our school, by some lockers. (Of course, I’d convinced myself that I was having lunch with him for HIS sake, since I was worried about him starting out in a new school.) This went on for a couple of weeks until Dave was ready to hang out with his classmates, and so left me no choice but to get out there too. My fears ended up being  completely unfounded and my years in St. Ann’s were amazing, but I’ll never forget how much I relied on him those first few weeks at a new school.

In fact, that’s pretty much the story of Dave’s and my relationship: we were each other’s support. 100%. Every. Day. Before moving to NYC, we moved from one country to the next every 2-4 years, so the only constant other than our parents was each other (Boris stayed in Germany to finish school when we moved to Switzerland, so after I turned 10 and Dave turned 7, we never lived in the same place together). As we grew up, we developed different ways of thinking about a lot of things, but at the core of our relationship that never mattered: we listened to each other; we debated each other; we could call each other out on any nonsense; we helped each other no matter what the issue. We were each other’s safety net, always.

(Though I did get pretty mad that one time he read my diary and reported its contents back to my parents “because he was worried” about me, haha.)

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The Jokester (7th Grade)

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Sibling Photo (I was a senior, Dave in 8th grade)

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11th Grade

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12th Grade