The Unbearable Death of a Boy-Man

From Kirk's Facebook page

From Kirk’s Facebook page

The loss of a child cannot be fathomed.

Who could ever be prepared for their child to die before them?

There must be endless tears and sorrow and sadness and a forever and unrelenting pain.

For me, it’s a pure and simple matter.

If I never heard my son’s voice again or was never able to wrap my arms around him, I don’t know if I could take another breath.

…On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Kirk Passmore, 32, a passionate big-wave surfing veteran and Hawaii resident, is presumed to have drowned and as of today his body has not been found.

One minute he was alive, surfing an estimated 20-foot wave at Alligator Rock on Oahu’s North Shore, with an audience of other surfers and photographers.

He dropped into the steep face of the wave before falling over the front of his board and into the water.

The top of the wave crashed over him and witnesses say he surfaced for a brief moment before he was crushed by another wave.

It was the last time anyone saw him.

Although extensive searches have been conducted in the area, he’s been missing since the day of the accident and is presumed drowned.

It was all caught on video.

This is the video of his last wave. Somehow he never made it out alive.

His dad wanted the his final ride shared with as many people as possible.

Maybe you heard about this. Maybe you were watching the news on television and you paid scant attention to the story while you were on the computer or eating dinner.

Maybe you read it on the internet and saw the pictures or the video.

You probably thought to yourself or even said out loud, ” Wow, that’s really sad.”

Kirk Passmore.

Why am I writing about him?

Yes, it’s true that he was someone’s child, brother, friend.

But he was also one of my son’s friends.

They went to school together.

He’s the first of my son’s friends to die.

Kirk had the biggest smile and the reddest hair. Everyone called him “Fanta” or “Red”.

He was one of the many boys I’d chauffeur around, packed like sardines in the back seat, all gangly legs and arms, endlessly stuffing their mouths —  bottomless pits of growing boy bodies– with the cookies and smoothies and other snacks cheerfully provided to everyone who came over.

A carful of boys talking about school, skateboarding; laughing, always smiling, always a thank you for the ride as he slammed the car door.

“See ya, Jason.”

A flash of bright red hair lit the way as he ran up the walkway to his house.

But no more.

I bet for most of these boys – and I still call these thirty-somethings BOYS because to me they will always and forever be “the boys” or “the guys” — my son’s friends from Kelly Elementary, Valley Junior High, and Carlsbad High School — this is their first experience with death and subsequent thoughts of their own mortality.

I feel so bad for his family and his friends who are mourning him with candlelight vigils, surf paddle-outs, tributes, and memorials. 

To honor Kirk, they’re handling their pain with grace and beauty.

One of them, artist Bryan Snyder, created a memorial wall in our town. If you’re ever in Carlsbad, check it out.

Bryan Snyder

Bryan Snyder

Our deepest sympathies go out to Kirk’s family. Our hearts are heavy and we are so very, very sorry for their loss.

The Passmore family released the following statement:

Kirk was born February 11, 1981 in Orem, Utah.  He grew up in Carlsbad, California and graduated from Carlsbad High School in 1999 where he was a member of the school’s surf team for four years.  As a youth, he was active in pop warner football, little league baseball, and basketball but his love was in surfing.

He started coming to Hawaii when he was 14 and was an experienced and expert surfer.  He was not new to big wave surfing, having surfed most of the well-known big wave locations, including Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, Pipeline and outer reefs on the north shores of Hawaii.  He was a familiar face at Todos Santos off Baja California.  He also surfed Maverick’s in northern California and Puerto Escondido in Mainland Mexico.  He spent 3 years in the southern coast of France.  He moved to the north shore of Hawaii full-time in the spring of 2012.

Kirk was a part owner of Third Stone Surfboards in Waialua, Hawaii and a Manager at Bonzai Sushi in Haleiwa, Hawaii.

He is survived by his mother, Diane Passmore (Orem, Utah), father and step-mother, David and Karey Passmore (Sunset Beach, Hawaii), siblings, Alyson Adams (Highland, Utah); Merrily Roberts (Encinitas, California) and Matthew Passmore (serving an LDS mission in New York, New York).

The family wishes to thank the Coast Guard, the City and County of Honolulu lifeguards and Fire Department who continue the search.

62 thoughts on “The Unbearable Death of a Boy-Man

  1. It made me teary to read this post but what a wonderful tribute to him. Prayers for his family and loved ones as they walk through this very difficult time. You honored him with such a wonderful post.


  2. :-/

    I still remember how weird it was the first time one of my close friends passed away. I had so many thoughts running through me… How? Why? But, he’s too young? We are all too young? And then I started to question why I hadn’t stayed in better contact with him, and if I could have done something to steer his life in a different direction… All, me, me, me… I never even stopped to think about how my mom must have felt… who had given him rides, and shared food, and watched her son grow up with… It must have hit her every bit as hard as it hit me.

    It’s a tragedy, and I’m sorry for everyone’s loss. He seems like he was an outstanding character, friend, son. A loss for for the whole world.


    • How very eloquent you are and with such profound powers of observation from your perspective. I was a stayathome mom just so I could do stuff like that, drive them around, feed them, watch over all of them, and we had a half pipe in our backyard so they’d all have a safe place to be (and not be hassled by the cops). Most other moms worked and no one was around after school. I have often been the butt of jokes for the healthy smoothies I made everyone drink. No sugary sodas here, LOL. I think my nickname was smother mother but I don’t care. There is no more beautiful sound than a group of boys laughing and just hanging around.

      On Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  3. This is so horribly sad – I am really sorry for your family and Kirk’s. Small consolation is that he was doing what made him happy, chasing his passions and dreams. So frightening every single minute of parenthood. Hug your boy extra tight next time he is within arm’s reach!


  4. I am close with a family with whom I share a special bond. I am like the adopted daughter of this family. Their son whom I briefly dated more than 20 years ago just passed away. I am so very saddened and I can imagine how Kirk’s Mom feels and even you, your son and your family feels as we are all dealing with similar here…Chris passed away from stage 4 cancer leaving a wife and 3 children.
    I must tell you I know it sounds horrible, but I am relieved that it wasn’t your Baby Boy of whom you write so much about ~ my heart goes out to the family. xo


    • You are such an eloquent writer, always from the heart. I’m so sorry for your loss and that of your adopted family friend too. Leaving behind children is heartbreaking, suffering from cancer is so full of pain for the sufferer and those who love and care for him. I meant it, I don’t know if I could survive anything happening to my angel boy. I don’t have that strength. But on a happier note, I hope you are well, my friend! I’m so busy when hub is home that I don’t have the same amount of time for anything else.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 11:26 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  5. He was 4 days younger than my daughter – talk about a slap in my face with mortality! Since I’m fighting pneumonia again, my thoughts have drifted to my own mortality lately, but it never even occurred to me to think of my daughter’s mortality. How could I live without her?


    • I’m sorry you aren’t feeling good! Pneumonia is NO fun. Please take care. I don’t know any words to say to a mom (or dad) to make losing their child less painful. I know in my case, I would not be able to survive it. BTW, we took a detour after Sacramento and visited my son who was in San Fran and I had a lot of hugs and kisses to last me til I see him on Thanksgiving. He’s going to see all of his friends here who were also Kirk’s good friends. Feel better!

      On Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  6. Pingback: if you don’t call, I think you’re dead and that’s why I’m getting a pair of Loubies | Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife

Now it's your turn to share your pearls with me. Cheers!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s