Rest in Peace, Dario Martinez...
Last December I was in Anchorage, Alaska. I had the amazing good fortune to visit The Last Frontier State four times in 2013. Deb Moore, my good friend and coworker wanted to say thanks by giving me a genuine Alaskan experience before I returned to Seattle. She took me to Girdwood for dog sledding with her friend Dario Martinez. Needless to say it was an over the top life engaging bucket list kind of event and more...
The moment I met Dario Martinez was immediately a different kind of first encounter. He had me pegged from the handshake introduction! I think he recognized a little something in me he saw in himself, a curious wandering philosophical artistic soul with many more questions about life than answers. He lit right up and we were instant friends from the get go and started talking about life, the universe, and of course his dogs and mushing.
There was no doubt he cared a lot about his dogs and it was more than obvious to witness their love for him. We only had a few hours together but hanging out with Dario was like being with a cherished master, an old friend and teacher who in all likelihood probably knew more about me in that one afternoon than I ever assembled or understood about myself in my whole life.
I was mesmerized by his passionate conversation about everything in life. Obvious, we were kindred spirits. Yet what really moved me and was enlightening and profound was how much of his communication with the dogs was nonverbal. A simple gesture from Dario spoke volumes and they immediately responded.
One second they’re howling at the top of their lungs, “I want to go, choose me! I want to do this sledding adventure!” The next moment they’re instantly sitting quiet on their kennel with sublime patience for what was to come... love, attention, purpose, and relationship.
He intimately knew everyone of his dogs down to their smallest detail, their dietary needs including vitamins, their individual behaviors, individual attitudes, how to motivate each one and he knew, understood and cared about their individual fears and addressed them. I learned so much about life that day from Dario.
Though he was online and we chatted via FB he was a man of the outdoors. I really felt bad when I first saw the postings show up about my friend Dario on Facebook last week. I was caught between disbelief and a weird sense of guilt. The week had been crazy busy in the field and I missed so much of what was happening. I was slow to catch up. Dario’s body was found in Anchorage last week. It was deemed a suicide. I’ll respectfully skip the details, unknowns, and speculation. They don’t matter.
What does matter is I made a real life friend that day in Girdwood, Alaska last December and that will always remain in my heart of hearts. Dario was a gracious compassionate exuberant soul and he reminded me that we are all warriors, lovers, and artists, each in our own way.
Dario, whatever life threw at you that so drastically changed everything and knocked you off your path, I’m so sorry. I wish I could have been there for you to see it through. I feel the void and emptiness of loss, the pangs of remembered joy one afternoon in Girdwood, Alaska with friends and dogs.
God Bless You and Rest in Peace, my fellow life traveler and friend.