My life changed on November 2nd, 2010. I can't say yet if it is for better or for worse but all I know is that the unexpected death of surfing legend Andy Irons profoundly affected me. I never knew I could be so sad about the passing of a person who I had never met but somehow the sadness still wells up within my soul when I think about such a talent... and such a great person... being gone so instantly.
I was getting ready for work and having a less than perfect day when, upon checking my Facebook one last time before I left for the evening, I learned of his passing. I was so shocked that a fairly loud "WHAAAT???!!!" escaped through my being and I was completely devastated by the news article a friend had posted to Facebook. It said that the surfing legend had somehow passed away in a Dallas hotel room, apparently after suffering from symptoms of Dengue Fever. I Google searched the topic and came upon a video called 'I surf because' and saw videos of Andy surfing as well as an audio reel with a kind of poem on why he surfs. I couldn't help but burst into tears upon hearing his voice and the sincerity behind it... and realized that I would never hear or see anything new from him again... and then thought about his family, his brother, his friends... and what they must be feeling.
Andy was, and shall remain to me, one of the purest and most amazing souls to ever grace this planet. Such a cool and humble person who had so many friends who adored him as well as appreciated who he was as a person. His surfing was absolutely incredible. He was fearless and a true warrior. Pushing the limits of modern surfing to a point where only very few have dared to go. He earned the title of World Champion on more than one occasion... overcoming legends such as Kelly Slater, a long-time friend and competitor, to earn the well-deserved World Titles.
I never knew Andy Irons but I feel like I did. My brother and I grew up surfing and watching videos of him and his younger brother Bruce, which always amazed and inspired us. I even compared us to them in my own mind although they are quite a few levels above us in the surfing realm. I imagined my brother and myself pushing each other to new heights in life just like Andy and Bruce did. When we grew up in Cali and lived in Hawaii we would surf together (I mostly on a bodyboard and my brother surfing) and would try to impress each other and show off... which would lead us to new levels of our own athleticism. I, being the older one, was the 'Andy' and my brother 'Bruce'. I related well to Andy because I really felt his sincerity in his interviews and saw him as a truly genuine person. I was inspired to be like him and he and his brother became mine and my brother's heroes.
So not only did I lose one of my heroes the other day, I feel like I lost a friend and role model who I had learned so much about... and in a way I feel like I lost a part of myself. When you look up to someone so much, you look to them for inspiration and imagine yourself being like them.
I was not previously aware of Andy's problem with drugs but I do have a hard time believing that is the only cause of his death. I do believe he had become ill and for some reason his body had given up on him long enough to cause the most unfortunate of deaths.
I know this will send shockwaves throughout the world, especially in Hawaii, where the name Andy Irons is a household name. He was a key member in the Hawaiian family and will always be mentioned with respect and honor.
Andy... I say a prayer for you today and wish you the best of luck on your journey. I imagine you surfing in Heaven for all to see... and pray that you will be united with your family and friends once again when we all reach the afterlife. You will be missed and talked about for many decades to come. You were always a trailblazer and somehow have left on a wave to the spiritual realm. May you ride it well and may your spirit fly on forever.
I will live my life differently from this day on. You have taught me that life can be so short... and we never know what can happen. A little part of everything I do... will be for you brother.