How he lived

Devon lived joyfully. Somehow, he accomplished more in a day than most people seem to be able to. He had lots of tabs open on the computer that was his brain; and oh, what a brain it was. Devon talked early, was reading by age four, and had many scholastic accomplishments throughout his years of school. This culminated in him being the valedictorian of his high school class of over 500 students. He won a full scholarship for both his undergraduate degree and his MBA at the University of Florida. Being well-rounded, he also won a poetry contest for his school and had his poem published in a school journal. His car was always full of friends as he brought them along on his adventures: concerts, skydiving, scuba diving, boating, kayaking — any water sport. Having been born in Hawaii, he loved any body of water and any activity having to do with water.

I’m a pretty proud mama; all of that should really be enough. But this makes me really proud: a good Catholic boy, he won the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award in his junior year of high school, for his community service, mainly with Anytown.

And this: When he was an undergrad, ever the entrepreneur, he started his own scuba diving business called Dive Concierge. He advertised that he would do all of the leg work; pay one sum and he would arrange everything to provide you with a beautiful scuba diving experience, usually on the island of Bonaire, one of his favorite dive spots. One elderly couple booked a trip with him but asked that he come along. The wife had terminal cancer and wanted one last diving adventure. As Devon was a divemaster, the wife said she would feel safer with him being there. Devon took a week off of school in the middle of the semester, which did not make his professor very happy. Then the woman asked for another week…how does one say “no” to a dying woman? So Devon stayed. He almost failed the class. He had to beg, plead, cajole, and do extra work, and he ended up barely passing the class. I am so proud of him for that! People over grades, every time.

And these comments from people I had never met. I received these posthumously, and they all started with, “you don’t know me, but….”

“Devon was my camp counselor at Anytown. I told Devon that no one in my family had ever graduated from high school and that I was not sure I would, either. Devon would not accept that. He encouraged me, mentored me, and to make a long story short, I will be graduating from Brown University this year. I wouldn’t be here had I not met Devon.”

“I taught Turkish at the U of Florida for a year and met Devon in Gator Scuba Club. For me, it was quite difficult to be a foreigner in the States, especially in the club I had difficulty figuring many things out. I was a stranger and Devon was there for me. helping me by answering every single question that I asked and making me feel safe. He is one of the few people that I feel gratitude with. Please remember you have friends and family in Turkey now. Our condolences from Turkey.”

The accolades go on and on. Devon was certainly not perfect, but he was kind and generous. To livelikeDevon, Book the trip. Make the phone call you have been putting off. Talk to a stranger. Make someone laugh. Do something that scares you. Color outside the box. Never look down on someone else unless you are reaching a hand to pull them up.

There is a song by Taylor Swift called, “Bigger Than the Whole Sky,” and that was Devon. Bigger than the whole sky. He filled up every room he was in; he took advantage of opportunities and made things happen. He loved life.

I hope you enjoy your one, beautiful, sacred life. I know Devon did.