Did you know you died on Rick Hartley’s birthday? He posted on his Facebook wall about his sadness – how he found it surreal that you died while his family celebrated his birth.
Now his funeral is this Saturday, on your birthday. His family will celebrate his life in Wisconsin while we are here celebrating your birth.
The one who was already missing, David Singleton, died on Piper’s birthday.
I can’t believe the three of you are dead. You were all too young. You all went too fast. You all left behind grieving wives who adored you. You all left behind adolescent daughters and beautiful sons who are too young to be fatherless.
In the absence of your real brothers, David and Rick stepped in. I think of you guys, standing around in the breezeway of the church on Sepulveda, laughing, joking, colluding. I can still see the three of you in the vehicle bay in Oxnard, wearing coveralls, covered in grease: David plotting something, you goofing off, Rick working hard. The three of you at Denny’s late at night, hanging out, teasing each other and making me laugh.
We stood up in David and Annika’s wedding. David and Rick stood up in ours.
When Rick came to our wedding rehearsal, he met Karla, my best friend and maid of honor. He was smitten! He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. We stood up for them in their wedding.
Our three families had daughters within a year of each other.
Rick drove five hours from Wisconsin to come sit by your side when you were sick. He prayed over you. He laughed at your jokes. He comforted you. And when he left, he said, “I’ll see you soon.”
He and Karla spent all evening at your visitation, and returned the next morning for your funeral. He messaged me a few weeks ago to arrange another visit.
And then he laid down for a nap on Friday and didn’t wake up.
When I read that Rick died, I was stunned. I kept asking the air, “What? What!? WHAT…?!!!”
I grabbed my phone to call you. I had to be the one to tell you. I needed to process this incomprehensible information with you.
And then I caught myself.
You already knew. You were already there. You and David were racing to greet Rick in that moment he died, cheering him through the gate, embracing him, laughing again!
So I guess I’ll process it with the ones who knew – and loved – all three of you.
We’ll begin on Saturday at your birthday party.