The Unbearable Death of a Boy-Man

It’s been  a year since my son’s boyhood friend tragically died in Hawaii from a surfing accident.  His body was never recovered. I wanted to take a moment to remember this bright shiny boy and the joy he brought to everyone he met.

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.

if you don’t call, I think you’re dead, and that’s why I’m getting a pair of Loubies

(If you don’t know what Loubies/Louboutins are, scroll down to the end for a pic.)


We are officially at Tugboat Man Minus Two.

In other words, two more shopping days ’til I drive to the airport and pick up a man.

That’s funny, but it’s true.

I go from SASSY single girl to a coupled MARRIED woman at the whim of a flying machine.

Well, after a good amount of time ‘scaping and scraping and all that jazz.

Got a totes adorbs dress at the Banana Republic @Carlsbad Outlet today.

Fifty percent off! Kinda Pucci-like, don’t you think?bananarepublic

I’ll pair it with skinny jeans or black tights.

And those LOUBOUTINS I’m about to receive as soon as hub comes home and catches up on his lost sleep.

Sleep loss is a real health hazard of the professional mariner.

But enough about him.

Here’s why I deserve those scandalous, over-the-top, uber extravagant and gorgeous shoes.

Settle in, this is a good story, albeit a tad convoluted, but not if you follow my way of thinking about things. If you’re like me, you’ll soon nod your head in agreement.

Remember a few weeks ago I shared with you that hub got a new surfboard? Do you also recall how i was the ultra supportive wife who encouraged him to buy it (and that I figured it behooved me to be “all in” so that I could expect the same reaction when I suggested a trip to Chanel for that iconic pearl necklace?)

OK. That’s the first part.

What you don’t know is that after my 50+ year-old tugboat man acquired his new toy, there was a slight swell (that’s surfer talk), a bump in the surf — and he became OBSESSED with surfing. Surfing in the morning, surfing in the afternoon, surfing until the sun went down. Normally, I’m pretty cool with that — he loves to surf, he’s gone a lot — when he’s home, he deserves to follow his bliss, right?

Now it’s time for you to understand that I’m the type of person who thinks if I don’t hear from you, you’re dead.

A to Z, black and white, dead or alive. No gray area.

I was am that way with my son, too. If he does’t call or text or email, I get so worried that I believe the WORST POSSIBLE THING HAS HAPPENED.

At any given time, I’m THAT close to calling the police, hospitals, FBI, State Department, and boarding a plane to wherever.

With my son, it’s not as if there isn’t some history…for example, one year he rode his bicycle alone from Carlsbad to Utah and had a pretty bad accident in Moab; more recently there was his life threatening illness and life-saving surgery — oh and let’s not forget that time he was riding his bicycle home from school at Johns Hopkins (where he received one of his two Masters) and a carjacking took place RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM and the car RAN HIM DOWN and mangled his bike. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt at all. LUCKILY.

AND that one occasion DIL and I were together while Angel Boy was hiking in some godforsaken remote location. I’ll never forget and neither will she…we were eating fish tacos at Rubios prior to her flight back home (she travels more than anyone I know) and we were waiting for a CALL from Angel Boy to let us know he was off the mountain. No call; she power called him until her fingers were sore, but it went straight to voicemail. Finally, she called one of the guys he was hiking with and we learned that the rest of the group had met up at the arranged time, but not our Angel Boy. In fact, the rest of the group was becoming worried and had contacted the rangers, and there was talk about forming a search party. Can you imagine how worried we were? We’re in the car, on the way to the airport, very upset as you can imagine, when he finally called. As thankful as we both were that he was OK and now I can’t really remember the reason for his delay, we were SO MAD AT HIM. And now it’s kinda ruined Rubios for us, because it brings us right back to that place of panic.

Now’s the time you should be nodding your head in agreement that there’s some justifiable basis for the way I am. RIGHT?

Back to my tugboat man. His job is a very dangerous one, no matter that he’s the captain and is inside the wheelhouse mostly driving the boat; it’s inherently rife with danger. At any moment, I could receive a call from the company with some bad news. AT ANY TIME. So much to worry about.

And surfing is dangerous too, right? My son’s childhood friend disappeared while surfing in Hawaii, and there are always horrible surfing accidents on the news that further support my crazy.  In fact, a few years ago, through no fault of his own, hub was involved in a freak accident out in the water where he was stabbed in the lower calf by the tip of someone’s board – he drove himself home — I took one look at the injury, which was open all the way to the bone (MAJOR GROSS), and we made a trip to the ER where they sutured it.

End of story?

Nope, just the beginning. Suturing was a bad idea. The wound became horribly infected because of FILTHY OCEAN WATER; he had a fever of 105 degrees, contracted an antibiotic resistant staph infection, was in incredible pain, but LUCKILY recovered with no limbs lost — just a small divot in his calf and an ugly scar.

As you can see, I’m not ALL that crazy. Sorta cray, but not ALL the way cray.

OK, back to the present (literally). Hub’s been taking Spanish lessons when he’s home, I think mostly so that we can go to Costa Rica (to surf, duh).

Anyway, here’s where it gets hinky.

He loaded his new surfboard in the back of his truck, and said he’d MAYBE go surfing after the class was over.

Class was over at 6:00 p.m. No phone call. 6:15. No call. 6:30. No call. I started power calling his cell. No answer. 7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

He NEVER doesn’t call.My almost-always-perfect hub UNDERSTANDS the importance of a two-second courtesy call or text.

On this particular day, one of the hottest in history, a call would have been especially nice if he had asked if I wanted to meet him at the beach to cool off and take pics or video of the big surf.

7:45 p.m. No call.

One by one the ingredients I had prepped for dinner were put away.

What ifs were peppering my brain.

What if he got hit with a board again? What if he cut himself on glass?

WHAT IF HE’S AN INCONSIDERATE JERK?

He rolled in a few minutes before 8:00 p.m., happy and hungry.

Me, not so much.

I proceeded to explain to him the thousands and thousands of ways he failed me as a loving husband by selfishly not caring enough to make that phone call. It’s worse ‘cos he KNOWS how crazy I get. He said he was sorry, that he thought I understood he was planning to surf…blah, blah, blah.

I tossed a couple lettuce leaves in his direction, telling him to enjoy his dinner, while I flounced off to not speak to him for the rest of his life.

The next morning I went to the gym while he went surfing AGAIN.

When I got home and pulled into the garage, there was a handwritten huge banner staring at me; “I’m very, very, very SORRY, how can I make it up to you?”

Louboutins, my friends.

Louboutins.

And don’t EVER do that again. ‘Cos I’m crazy,

And when I’m cray, YOU pay.

louboutin-black-leather-high-heels

#Louboutin #Loubies

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.