I want to dedicate this post to a lost friend, one of my closest. Last night, we lost Little David.
David and I met years ago. We worked at the same factory, and though I was several years older than his own eighteen, we clicked. We had the same dark sense of humor, the same geeky love of comics and fantasy of all stripes. He dug death metal, while I was in my Johnny Cash phase. David had the same snarky reaction to stupid behavior as me. We never got in fights, never stabbed one another in the back, never let disagreements be anything other than civilized.
When The Fall came, he was one of the first to join us. His family came with him, and though he hasn't always been at the forefront of activity, he's always been a reliable and stalwart defender of this place.
He suffered a lot of heartache in his life before The Fall, and more after. He watched as many loved ones passed, as all of us did, and found new hope with Darlene. When the compound fell to the Richmond Soldiers, she was killed, and David was devastated.
Though he healed, David was never the same. He spent his time alternating between periods of depression and times of reckless risk. Yesterday was, ironically enough, a good day. A normal day. He was putting in a shift hunting with one of our many crews, and a zombie came through the area he was in. It should have been a simple kill, then back to the hunt.
He was found before he had a chance to reanimate, and I didn't ask which member of his team made sure he stayed gone. I don't want to know.
All of us who knew him are saddened by his loss. He was funny as few people are, sarcastic and biting, but was always a sympathetic ear when you needed him. We who were close to him feel more than sadness for his passing, but also a deeper pain at how hard he had it. To have lost so much and gained hope only to lose it all over again...that's what all of us fear. That deep, hollow worry that what we've salvaged from our prior lives will be gone in an instant. David lived that, and fought, and hurt. He dealt with it for a longer time than I think most of us would have been capable of. He was tough.
All of us know how quickly we can lose what little we have. Cherish each moment, pleasure and pain, as something precious and unique that may never come again.
A wise man once said that even when we're with others, each of us dies alone.
I say that we may always die alone, but the best way to live is together. With each other, for each other. David understood that on a very deep level. He was the essence of this place. He dealt with his own pain privately so that he could show a strong face for the rest of us. So he could better give his quick mind and strong arms in the service of the community he was so instrumental in building.
It's fitting that David was the one to suggest the name that was eventually chosen to replace "the compound". He read over some of my recent posts, and one struck him. He pointed out to me that while this place was no longer a haven after the split among our people and the massive zombie swarm that nearly obliterated us, we were on the path to recovery. More, we were actively building new and more powerful hopes from the ruins of the old.
His contribution to the compound is many-faceted, in service and many other ways. The one that he'll be most remembered for is giving us a name. A real name.
Everyone will know that Little David was the first to call us "New Haven".
And yes, before anyone gets snarky and mentions that there was a town of the same name in Connecticut, I am aware. David believed, as many here do, that using old names was a fine thing as long as they fit. We're staring down a future full of possibilities we couldn't have dreamed of two months ago, and it gets bigger and brighter every day. We are growing strong and fit, and people have already expressed interest in traveling here again.
It's enough for me. We've got a way to go, but a name with such resonance just means we'll have to try that much harder to meet the expectation it creates. David would have done his best to, and we will do no less.