Fraser Valley community, mountains and God embraced David Moran
May 28, 2009
To the Editor:
Dear Grand County,
Last month on a bright Monday afternoon, while snowshoeing up Strawberry Trail, my little brother, David Moran, had a heart attack and died. He was headed with friends and coworkers up to the High Lonesome Hut for a two-night stay, a celebratory break after the busy workweeks of winter season. He was 43.
Shaken by grief, we flew from New York and landed in the arms of Fraser Valley. We will never forget your astonishing kindness.
David had weathered a lot of ups and downs in his short life. He struggled with childhood diabetes, with finding where he belonged and, as many of us do, just what he wanted to be when he grew up. He graduated from Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs; ran his own ad business in Denver; was employed at newspapers in Montana and New Mexico; worked for The American Diabetes Association; lived for a time in New York and also Las Vegas where he took care of our ailing father.
Just after Dad died four years ago, David drove his old Ford truck and a trailer full of books and bric-a-brac into the Rockies and arrived among you. He rented a room in the wonderful home of Ingrid Karlstrom. He worked in the lumber yard, as computer instructor at Granby Middle School and eventually settled into the jobs he most loved ” teaching computer at Fraser Valley Elementary and charming his Winter Park customers as a waiter at Deno’s Mountain Bistro. He also volunteered (always a big part his life) as a teacher with the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
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When I visited him, we’d always find time to sit quietly in front of Ingrid’s place near Crooked Creek Road. Between puffs of his cigarette, David would open his arms, gesture to the distant slopes and the surrounding expanse of the Continental Divide, and say: “See brother, right here … it’s one big hug from God.”
We arrived last month ” my Mom, my sisters, David’s niece and nephew ” and received that hug. The warm embrace of a remarkable community. Ingrid welcomed us to her home; her next-door neighbors offered their extra beds. Cindy Eller, the coroner in Kremmling, treated us with such wisdom and love, guiding us like a shaman through the difficult moments of seeing Dave’s dear body, collecting his effects. She (as well as those who’d been hiking with David) told us of the valiant efforts of Grand County Search and Rescue and all the emergency personnel who came to David’s aid, did their best to revive him and, when that failed, gently ushered his body down the mountain. Two waitresses at The Moose Cafe (across from the coroner) overheard my mom and me discussing what happened. When it came time to pay the bill they told us, tears in their eyes, that breakfast was on the house. That afternoon, the staff of Fraser Valley Elementary greeted us with hugs and flowers and expressions of love drawn in bright words on paper plates and cards by countless students. “Dear Mr. Moran, if I had known when you were going to die, I would have said goodbye.” “Mr. Moran, I will always remember how you made us laugh especially when you said you’d chop off our arms if we ate in the computer lab!” Deno’s put a sign out front: “God Bless You Dave,” and Deno, Debbie Lewis and all the staff threw open their doors and their hearts, fed us, and hosted a full-out wake for him. We came to know those of you who’d been on Strawberry Trail and so bravely tried to save him ” Matt and Lucrecia Johnson, Jenny Maier and Todd Nevitt. And so many of you who knew David shared with us priceless anecdotes. You taught us about him, how many lives he touched, how generous he was. How funny. Through you we received the deep comfort of knowing he had found, in these last good years of his life, home.
David died doing what he loved. He’d strapped on his snowshoes and hoisted his beloved pack stuffed with gear, a boomerang to throw, a kite to fly. He pulled a sled loaded with shish kabob and burgers and a dozen bottles of Guinness ” a load of libations and love to share around the campfire. He was smack in the middle of living, his I-Pod singing, his heart racing. His body fell in the snow even as his spirit soared up the mountain, right past the High and Lonesome Hut. What consolation to know that he was not alone; that he was escorted by kindness, that he was graced in living and in death by an extraordinary community.
We will ever remember how you honored our David, watched over him, and blessed him on his way. Thank you.
Martin Moran and Family