My heart is heavy and my spirit is broken. On Friday. July 24th at 3:16pm, I received a call that has forever changed my life. There are no words. There are feelings. Millions of feelings but not a single word in that moment. I said “okay” a lot and hung up the phone. Unable to process what little information was given, my mind went into protective mode and I immediately began to think of how I could fix the problem.
But there was no problem. There was nothing to fix. With deep sadness, I came to realize it wasn’t a joke. There was nothing funny about this. My family is in shambles and like a tidal wave crashing into the rocky shore, I broke.
It was a beautiful sunny day back in his hometown and Bobby was enjoying a morning swim at the beach with his friends and family. Something unexplainable happened and he told his little girl to swim to the shore as fast as she could. Within minutes he had gone under. Helpers from the beach quickly pulled him from the water, but it was too late. Our friends on shore were brave in a chaotic situation and had Bobby rushed to the hospital where people worked tirelessly to try to save our boy. Sadly it just wasn’t possible.
Bobby was just 32. He was healthy, strong and lived life to the fullest. One day he was on cloud 9, glowing as he told stories of his daughter and the next he was furious about the government and ready to take on the man any chance he got. He was abrasive and stubborn when speaking about politics or religion. But more often, he was passionate and thoughtful when it came to his music and his family. Bobby was and will always be known as a man with nerves of steel and a heart of gold who was taken from us far too soon. He was a son, a brother, a friend and a father. To me, he was my cousin who I share so many incredible memories.
We may never know what happened in the water that day but one thing is certain, in his last moments with us, he was exactly who we knew him to be; a loving father who adored his baby girl and protected her at all costs. His only concern was saving her from witnessing a tragedy and that courage will never be forgotten. His daughter was his absolute pride and joy. Bobby moved mountains for his curly red-headed angel and I have never been so proud of him.
Our sweet, beautiful M…your dad was a great, great man. He loved you fiercely and would be so proud of how incredibly brave you were that day on the beach. You may not understand a lot of what is happening right now, but know this…your daddy will forever live on in your heart. Your smile reflects his love and his legacy lives with you.
The kids and I flew to my moms a few days after Bobby passed so I was unable to go home and be with my family for the funeral. I’m having a difficult time accepting then finality of it all. My last memory was at Christmas when the 4 of us sat in my aunt’s living room playing board games. Dave and I laughing hysterically as Bobby and his sister fought over semantics. So, so typical! It felt wonderful to relive our childhood years of summers spent together when we raced our bikes around Dobie, bought stale chocolate bars from a man who always had cheese in his teeth and laughed til we cried listening to terrible ghost stories at every sleepover. He told lame jokes that made me laugh hysterically and often fought with me about our differences in religious beliefs. It was a great Christmas and I am so happy my kids got to meet their crazy Uncle Bob. Don’t we all have one? Looking through my messages makes me laugh. Our last conversation was about ours daughters’ mutual adoration for pink animal themed Legos. Life wasn’t hard with Bobby. Our conversations usually meant nothing but always felt important.
Looking now at his Facebook page as it is flooded with memories and kind words, I can see that he was someones friend, someones coworker, someones band mate, and someones first love. We all have our own story of who Bobby was and each is filled with love and adoration.
I am struggling right now as I can’t be with my family. I have questions and sadness that I can’t explain. I can’t help but think of the what ifs. What if it had been my brother? What if that had been Lincoln in the water? What if Brooklynn had to see Alain that way? These ideas start to pour in my to head, but stop just as suddenly. My heart won’t let my mind go to that dark place. Once that box is open, there is no coming back. So I stop, close it up and walk away. But that is exactly where my family is right now. My aunt and cousin had their box ripped apart and they are forced to live in that sadness. Life will never ever be the same and there is no going back. I can’t stop the hurt and I can’t heal their pain. I am lost and useless and have no idea how to help. This unimaginable thing has happened and there is no going back. There are no right words.
We all grieve and heal in our own way, but through my own journey of loss, I’ve learnt one thing. When life feels unlivable and your world seems to be sinking into the abyss, find one thing…one glimmer of hope and hold on. Hold on to that memory through the waves of sadness and heartache. Eventually, the ebb and flow of grief will subside and the storm will pass. Friends and family, I pray that you find your happy thought, your joyful memory and you hold on. We are on this road together even when we feel alone.
For now, I am finding peace knowing that Bobby spent his last day smiling with his sister and friends, and being a proud and loving father to his baby girl. It was a great last day and I am so thankful that he was surrounded by love to the very end.
1983 – 2015
A soul taken too soon, but will never be forgotten.
I love you so much and will see you again.