The Day We Lost Dave

What do I tell Sierra?  How do I explain to my five year old daughter that her daddy won’t be coming home? That was my first thought when I learned the bad news in the early morning hours of August 11, 2006.

We never spent time together before work. If Dave had to work really late one night, he would come home early the next day.  However, this time was different. Dave decided he would take Sierra to school with me and then we would go out to Makena Tennis Club to play some tennis.  We hadn’t played tennis in over two months because life was just too busy. Just no time.

We took Sierra to school.  That was the last time she would see her dad alive. If we just knew these things before, we could plan for it. We could express our feelings, hang on to a few more minutes together….but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Dave and I played tennis and he ignored the many phone calls he received during that hour. We kept it pretty mellow. Normally he’s cranking the ball and pretending to be in the finals at Wimbledon. I’d get pissed off and try to hit him as hard as I could with the ball. We had a pretty fun time and Dave won the set, but ONLY because I LET him 🙂

On the drive home, he said something that I’ve thought about a lot.  Just one of those weird things…Dave said that we needed to set up a life insurance policy for me. I just said, “ok”.  Eleven days later that’s exactly what I did as a newly widowed mom looking out for her child.

After getting cleaned up and getting ready to leave the house, Dave invited me out to a lunch that he was scheduled to host with one of their vendors and their sales team.  I declined because I didn’t think it was right for me to attend this business lunch meeting for a freebie lunch.  I wish I had gone because that would have been an extra hour and a half spent with him.

The rest of the day and evening was pretty normal, except Dave was working late.  They had a sales team reward dinner meeting that he had to host. He had planned to be home at 10pm. At 10, he called me and said he was going to stay out for a bit longer. I was fine with it as long as I knew the plan. He was great at communicating with me on being late…something that took a while for him to learn.  I’m such a worrier, and in the past I had called the police station, called the hospital, worried that something had happened to him because he was late.  How silly right? Well, nothing bad had ever happened.  I worried for nothing, because he always came home.

But not this time……

I woke up at 1:55am and saw that Dave was not yet home. I called his cell phone and it went straight to voice mail. I was a little worried, but I knew that the club he was going to had very bad reception. However, he still could have called me or something! How irresponsible! I ended up leaving him an angry voice message. Then, I went downstairs to my office and worked for a couple of hours.

Just past 4:00am and I started trying to guess where he could be.  Did he get into a fight? Did he get pulled over? Maybe he was playing poker…I remember the last time he played just a couple of weeks before while Sierra and I were in Seattle.  He called me about his plans and he wasn’t sure how late he was going to be, he said, “playing to win, whatever it takes”.

4:30am….I can’t stand it. I pour myself a rum and coke and sit in the recliner…extremely nervous and worried that something happened. All these crazy thoughts are running through my head. I took a sip of my drink, then the door bell rang.  Someone is ringing my doorbell at 4:40am.  Why is Dave not coming in thru the garage?! Why would he ring the door bell at this hour?!  Who could that be?! These were my thoughts as I ran down to the front door.

I knew the second that I saw Duke that it wasn’t going to be good. He was a friend of Dave’s and they played beach volleyball together at Kamaole One Beach. Duke was also a police officer.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget those next few moments. It’s hard to prepare for such a shocker…you can run it through your mind…and imagine something happening to your loved one, but when it actually does happen….it seems surreal.  It seems like a stupid dream. A nightmare.

I looked at Duke and he put his head down.  I knew it was really bad, but I had to hear him say it. He finally spoke and said, “There was an accident.” He stopped talking and just kept looking down.

“WHAT DUKE?!” I guess I just needed to hear the words.

“There was an accident…..and Dave didn’t make it.” he said, still looking at the ground.

Those ended up being the exact words I used to explain what happened to everyone else, over and over, “There was an accident…and Dave didn’t make it.”

I sat down on the floor in shock and I remember saying, “What do I tell Sierra?”


I really struggled with handling the information I had based on the final report about what happened.  The papers of course needed to get the story out and printed an article on early information and assumptions. To read The Maui News article that said that Dave “apparently lost control” really angered me and I knew that it was not true.

The final report confirmed my beliefs.

There were other factors, other people involved. Although I’ve had to accept what happened…I do continue to struggle with the fact that others played a role in the accident. Had those guys not been there that night/morning, Dave would be here today. And had it not been Dave, but another motorist driving by at that moment, it’s possible that the result might have been even more loss of life.

I believe that Dave saved the lives of the people who were a factor in him losing his life. Sometimes life isn’t fair, but I think there’s always more to the entire picture and sometimes it just takes a while to see it. He’ll always be a hero to me and Sierra.  He has contributed to our lives so much in the past and he continues to do so……

A movie I had watched soon after the accident, helped me to see “the bigger picture”.  I’ve watched it many, many times and it will always be one of my favorites.  It’s based on a book by Mitch Albom, and it’s called “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”.  I highly recommend it.


Every year, I try to do something special on different occasions including the anniversary of Dave’s passing. Every year is different. Some are easy and some are a little difficult.  This 6th anniversary, 8/11/2012, seems a bit difficult.  I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I have a lot of things going on in my life.  Stressful things, but also really great things…..however, even the good things can be emotional.

How do I handle it? I take it as it comes. I embrace all of the emotions that come because it’s better to feel emotions than to feel nothing. Happiness, sadness…it all makes me feel closer to Dave, so it’s all good!

Life can be so tough. We have to deal with things like not being able to get a job that we really need, financial and business troubles, a family member or friend dealing with medical issues. There will always be losses in our lives from losing a big soccer game …to more devastating losses like losing someone you hold deeply in your heart with no chance to say “goodbye”.  We have to learn, we have grow from all of life’s difficult times.

I haven’t moved on. I prefer to say that I’m moving forward…taking with me all of the memories, all of the emotions.  I try to use all of my experiences….good and bad, happy and sad….to manage anything, everything that comes my way.

Losing Dave has definitely made me a stronger person. I honestly believe that there are some important things that I’m supposed to accomplish that maybe, just maybe, would not happen had I not gone thru this big loss. I’m not even sure what those things are. What I do know, is that I am going to try to do my very best to make sure that I make a difference in my lifetime here on this plane… honor of David Castles.

World Peace maybe?….now THAT would be ridiculous 🙂


We miss you Dave…..

2 Responses to The Day We Lost Dave

  1. Oh Lena, my heart aches and the tears flow as I watch your memorial of Dave. What a beautiful human being and so many memories you have together of a rich and beautiful life. I can’t imagine the pain but I ave to believe his spirit is there with you and your darling daughter. He so loved you…nas you love him

  2. “I haven’t moved on. I prefer to say that I’m moving forward…taking with me all of the memories, all of the emotions. I try to use all of my experiences….good and bad, happy and sad….to manage anything, everything that comes my way.”

    What a beautiful way to honor Dave – to take him with you rather than leave him behind. You handle your loss with such grace. My grandfather also died suddenly when my dad was 13 while playing volleyball. My grandma was there watching him. She had the task of telling her five children the next morning that their father wasn’t coming home. It’s so hard when it’s sudden.

    Dave’s passing created a whole new path for your life, and the same happened for my Grandma, Dad and his siblings. I’m quite certain that our family would not be what it is today if Grandpa had stayed. Not saying that life is better without him…it’s just different, and I love what our family is today. Two generations removed, I think we are all stronger and closer because of our loss, and we always remember him. I wish the same for you as you continue on.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Hugs!

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