Submitted by Tina Ooley
“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more.” ― Maurice Sendak
In 2012 I moved to Durango from Arizona. I was the "new girl" at Kevin and Garrett's morning coffee shop. I remember the first morning they came in and the manager (whom I was replacing) introduced me to them. It was a lonely time for me, being in a new town and not having any friends. Kevin smiled at me and when I looked in his eyes, I knew I had just made a friend. He came to the coffee shop almost every morning, and I honestly missed him on the mornings he didn't. I remember the first day we hung out together, riding bikes during our lunch breaks. Afterwards, I told him that I was officially calling them my friends. His smile always made me feel welcome and loved. He was just what I needed in a friend.
In 2010 I lost my younger brother. It was the most difficult thing I had ever been through in my life at the time. I remember on the anniversary of his death, Kevin came in the coffee shop and when he got through the line and we were standing across the counter from one another he could see the sadness in my eyes. I am usually the smiley, happy one. He asked if I was alright and I explained about the day and how hard it was. Tears came down his face. He was so dang genuine, he felt deeply, just like me and I was just so grateful for him. He connected with everyone he came in contact with in a way that just made you feel loved.
Our friendship evolved and for two years he and Garrett tried to recruit me to the EasyCare team. I am not a 'horse person', so I always laughed and said "yea right". One day, when we were again talking about the potential of me working at EasyCare, Garrett said, "Tina, we can teach you about horses, but you have qualities that aren't teachable and that's why we want you." Kevin was nodding his head and in that moment I thought, well, maybe I can work with these guys. I just adored them, they brightened up my life in unimaginable ways, they were my pals, and if they believed in me, then I could do it. And so began my journey with EasyCare and my admiration for Kevin as a leader and not just a friend.
What a mentor he was to me with this work. He taught me how to pick up a horses foot, how to hold a pair of nippers and a rasp. He did everything he could to make me feel comfortable in a world that seemed really foreign to me. I wasn't very good on a computer either, but he taught me everything and before I knew it, I was Kev's marketing assistant working on projects with him that were way outside of my comfort zone. He always believed in me, he was my right hand man. When I would get overwhelmed with work he would say, "We are doing legacy work and we are a great team to do this work." The work he did at EasyCare made him proud. He took pride in being Garrett's right hand man and making EasyCare the best. He was the best listener and the best problem solver. He could always offer me perspective that was insightful and inspiring. We all just adored him.
So now here we all sit. Our friend, colleague, mentor is gone. I keep playing it all over and over again… How could he not know how loved and adored he was? How could he just leave us? The shock and grief is just so hard. I have been in this place before. The place where you don't really know how to function in the world, the place where your heart is shattered into a million little pieces and the thought of picking them up is more overwhelming than the thought of being broken forever. The place where you wonder how you could have made things different, what you should have said or how you could have been a better friend. I feel so, so sorry and I would do just about anything to bring him back.
So, I am reminded once again about how precious life is, how difficult the loss of someone we love is and the fact that a broken heart gets bigger as it heals. As with all of you, I will do my best to honor our Kevy, to be a better human, and to love more. I will miss him, a lot, and life will never be the same.
I love you Kev. Thank you for being my friend. I'm so sorry you had to go. I wish you were here. I guess I'll have to head to the mountains to show you my handstands.