May 23rd – those who die young

Celebrating the good times

May 23rd is a significant day in our small and imperfectly formed family. My brother Richard was born on this day in 1951 – he died on 14 August 1976 on the hills above Pukerua Bay, the victim of a freak hang gliding accident.

Very few days go by when I don’t think about him and wonder who the adult Richard would have been. The father, the uncle, the businessman (maybe) and the brother. We were invited to a birthday party this May 23rd. It was incredibly special, not just because of the person who’s birthday we were celebrating, but also because of it’s significance to me.

Dying young is tragic on so many many levels. We were reminded of it this week with the untimely death of a four-year old boy in Christchurch. The hearts of our small nation went out to the family.

Hard as I try, I cannot imagine how Richard the 59-year old would look. I see him (with his Richie McCaw eyes!) as a young man with a wicked smile, a ready laugh and a sensitive soul. He was gifted, very artistic and musical and he gathered like-minded friends.

He hasn’t aged.

He is still young and will remain – just as the song says – forever young.


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