Today is the Forth of July. It is Independence Day. A day to celebrate freedom. It is also the anniversary of the death of my hero and friend, David Huddie, who died of cancer when he was 23. Dave was the freest person I have ever known.
Dave was always the least likely candidate for cancer. He didn’t smoke, hardly drank, never took drugs and was about the most active and healthy person you could imagine; always out surfing, walking, cycling or snowboarding. And had often done all that before anyone else had woken up!
I used to go windsurfing whilst everyone was studying in the library for their finals and handed in my final-year project four days early so I could go surfing and hiking in Cornwall
Dave and I met in the spring of 1999 at my dad’s 50th birthday party. Dave wasn’t supposed to be there. He showed up with Anthony, along with his twin sister Jo, who would soon become my girlfriend. Although my dad knew Anthony as well as Jo and Dave’s mum I’d never met any of them. But Dave, Jo, Anthony and I instantly became best friends. It was as if we’d known each other for ever. A year or so later Anthony would tell me I “was the missing piece of their puzzle”.
Dave was cremated on 20th July 2004. Following the cremation there was a celebration of his life at which a letter written by Dave in his final days was read.
“By the time you hear this I will no longer be with you. I have no idea how long from now that will be but that is not for me to ever know. I really wanted to just say my bit and let you know what you all meant to me.
When I think about dying it doesn’t scare me too much. I think you are not really aware of it until it has happened or that if you choose not to resist death and accept its inevitability there is nothing to fear. I believe that when the time comes it is most powerful to choose death as what is happening to you to have it be a peaceful event.”
Dave’s acceptance of his situation, his peacefulness about dying, and his unrelenting care for those around him continues to inspire me.
It is all too easy not to confront our own mortality. It is all too easy to sweep things under the carpet to ‘deal with them later’. The anniversary of Dave’s death is reminder for me that life is precious and that life is now. The people around you are important and you have a far bigger impact than you will ever know.
The most upsetting thing is not that I will die but what I will leave behind. The number of friendships I have built up and the amazing family I have who I will never get to speak to again. That is what I find hardest to come to terms with.
- I will never see any of my close friends get married
- I will never get to hold any of Jo’s children
- I will never get to be a father
- My Mum and Dad become parents of one not of two
- The unbreakable bond between my twin sister and I will be broken
I miss you Dave and I’m glad you were my friend.
Don’t be sad, celebrate having known me when I was alive and the fact you still have each other.