by: F.R. Danna, III
Sometimes over the course of our lives we are called to take an unexpected journey, and I have been incredibly privileged to do just that over the past few days. This particular journey has made such an indelible impact on me that I felt the calling to share it.
On 23 January 2017, I received an urgent text message from one of my brothers from The Citadel asking me to give him a call. Immediately, I called and he notified me that one of our brothers from the F-Troop, Class of 2005, Trevor Michael Miller had passed. I, along with all of my classmates, were shocked and devastated. I think most of you reading this would understand just how important we all are to each other, and the bond between Citadel Men. This is especially important because we have shared all of the aspects of the last two decades of our lives. Marriages, births, deaths, and now the death of one of our own.
Immediately, I knew I had to attend Trevor’s services in Fairbanks, Alaska. Two months prior, after a long conversation with Trevor on the phone, I had promised him that I would “get around” to visiting him in Alaska. I saw this as my opportunity to keep that promise. As we are relatively spread out geographically, the trip was challenging, but three of us from the F-Troop Class of 2005 decided to make travel arrangements. Todd Barlow, Nate Hayes, and I, arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska on 03 February 2017.
After all of our flights landed, and we gathered at the hotel, one of Trevor’s cousins, Bubba picked us up at our hotel. Being that we are Citadel Men, we met him at the bar, and departed after a beer to Tyler and Ryan’s house (Trevor’s sister and brother-in-law). Upon arriving, we were first greeted by Trevor’s mother, Linda with whom we shared a very emotional hug. Tyler’s house, by this time, was already filled with Trevor’s family and friends. We laughed and shared memories of him, all the while it was as though we all knew each other, and this was just another “visit to Fairbanks”. Their graciousness for our coming was nothing short of legendary. I probably heard “Thank you for so very much for coming” one hundred times this weekend, and to be honest….the pleasure was entirely ours.
That evening, we visited some of Trevor’s favorite hang-outs, met some of the most remarkable people, and shared stories which made us laugh, cry, and laugh again. My eyes were red from tears, my face hurt from smiling (and maybe the -18 degree weather), my gut hurt from laughing, and my fingers were frozen, but my heart was warm. My heart was warm knowing that this man had such incredible people in his life. My heart was warm knowing that Trevor was so very loved….by the entire town of Fairbanks, Alaska.
The following day we spent at a local bar called Lavelle’s Taphouse, for a celebration of Trevor’s life. There we were privileged to meet even more family, friends, drink a few beverages in his honor, even more laughs, tears, and some inspiring stories of our brother. It was a truly wonderful and healing event. After our time at “The Taphouse” Trevor’s family and friends shuttled us “chichacos” (Alaskan speak for “newbie”…I think), around town stopping at restaurants, bars, and breweries, where it seemed like every person knew Trevor, knew The Citadel, and knew us via Trevor’s El Cid stories!
I could go on and on, about how amazing this trip was, but here is what I want to leave you with. The next time, you are considering the financial burden of visiting a dear friend, or fearing the time off of work, or worried about the minutiae…buy a plane ticket. Take your family. Visit your friends. Introduce your family to your friends. Have you friends introduce you to their friends. This life is far to short to be hemmed in by our geographical consternations. Let’s all make the promise to one another to make a face to face visit more often, no matter how hard it is, because I promise that if you take that leap….you will find the real treasure in your life. That treasure my dear friends, is you. You are my treasure. So today, I resolve to make a greater effort to shorten our distance between each other. No matter if that distance is in miles, or in memories, I resolve to close it. So here is to Trevor, a guy who taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned….just buy a plane ticket.
A HUGE THANK YOU to The Miller and Sloger Families for your impeccable hospitality. We are eternally grateful to you. You always have a place to stay in Texas! My wife, and baby girls for pulling my weight when I was gone, and of course my remarkable Mom and Dad….who always seem to know the answers.