I've cried twice over Dennis Valdez's death. And I stoically posted this on his FB wall after I learned of his departure.
Incredibly, I haven't interacted with him that many times. I first met Dennis when we both were at London Business School. The veteran community is small, and I connected with him since we were cut from the same cloth. The second time I connected with Dennis was part of Student Government, and we were transitioning the work that he had done to our team.
Over the years on Facebook, I would see his many adventures, from motorcycling across South America to sky diving to rescuing people from remote places. I messaged him once letting him know about my own adventure, and we traded a few laughs.
Dennis was loved by many. His current Facebook wall is full of posts about shared memories, his love of life, and an appreciation of him living in the moment.
I didn't share memories with him. But what I miss about him is his courage. Dennis was a courageous man who never let his fears conquer him. He had the courage to face his demons, to evolve continuously, and to love deeply. He had the courage to fight against cynicism and disbelief and to root himself to his principles.
I lost a brother-in-arms. But more regretfully, the world lost an example of courage.