1962 - 2016
On Sunday March 20th, 2016 Don had a heart attack. He was on a boat with friends in the Caribbean in the sunshine and I am relieved that he wasn't alone. He went swimming that day, and even helped to raise the anchor. It happened very fast. I think to myself, we should all be so lucky.
That day I happened to be in Montebello with Travis, my parents, Keith & Tania, and my niece and nephew Kate & Malcolm. There is a picture below of us taking a "Don style" picture for him as we toasted and missed him. We had no idea that the picture was taken within an hour of his death. If you study the picture, it is kind of amazing. My family and I had a beautiful French dinner together. As we went back to our rooms in the hotel, it was then that we found out. Of course the news is devestating and unbelievable. We were in shock and tears. It was the first time the eight of us had been together in 3 years, and it was for one night only.
My parents immediately made plans to fly to St. Maarten. I was fortunate to have Keith, Tania, Kate & Malcolm stay with me for the following week, as we planned for Don's Celebration of Life, grieved together, and supported each other. We engaged in activities with my niece and nephew, which helped us to somehow keep going. One of the most emotional and lovely moments was when Dr. Soc, the DJ from St. Maarten's local radio station Island 92, played a 4 hour tribute in honour of Don. Not only did he play Don's favourite music, including requests from us directly, after every break he spoke of Don and his character. I have included the link below and encourage you to play it, it is an amazing playlist. It is such a gift to have this tribute to Don, I listen to it often. I have also included photos of Don on my gallery page, if you listen to the musical tribute and play the slideshow, you will be moved to tears.
It was beyond difficult to be in St. Maarten without Don. It helped so much to have Sue & Wendy join us to celebrate Don and be there for us in St. Maarten. Everywhere we went, people knew Don.
Don's Celebration of Life was beautifully organized. Thank you so much to Olga who is Don's St. Maarten sister who stayed in contact with us and was there whenever we needed her. She worked so hard on Don's behalf to make all of the arrangements. Thank you as well to Arun and Aarti who stood by Don and helped to plan this beautiful service.
Keith did an incredible job of speaking and introducing those who wanted to speak about Don. It was so painful and so beautiful at the same time. Jordan did a beautiful job with a slideshow of Don's life. There were hundreds of people who turned up, from Don's AMA family in St. Maarten and Antigua, to taxi drivers, to our great friends Travis & Ana, to jewelry store competitors, to hotel staff, to tourists who flew specifically to St. Maarten to honour Don, to someone who had reached 6 months sobriety who Don was helping that none of us knew about, and of course many more. Don was known for his generosity of spirit, for his silly jokes and for his appreciation of the moment. He was so grateful for a kind word or even a bag of coffee, like it was the best thing in the world. Which is ironic as he never stopped giving, from incredible gifts to his family, to Travis & I who could never fully repay his generosity with his gift of Sandals for our 5 year anniversary, to free hugs, to St. Maarten bracelets and keychains to everyone he met. Of course to him generosity to others was no big deal. Don overcame so much in his life and we are so so proud of him.
I know how much Don loved me and that he would do anything for me, I just hope he knows how much I love him and how much I miss him.