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Obituary for David Alexander Marshall

Those of you who knew David know his sense of humor and so I start his obit with his last joke on me and his mother...his dog Barrett. I am 72 and Sarah is 67. Barrett has the energy of a nuclear explosion. He's big, his bark cracks glass and understands the word 'no' about as much as I understand Swahili. But...he is the most loving dog I know and hasn't a mean bone in his body. He is a sweet boy. But, Damn, David...really? So on to the the obit, which I would like to give the title: Beautiful Boy, a book by David Sheff. David is our beautiful boy and during his darkest of days, this is why we never abandoned him. Never gave up on him. Never.

As a child, David was much like Barrett. Turn your back on him and he was gone. Curious about everything. "I wanna see. I wanna see." Always said twice. Always. His hair was platinum blonde then and fine as silk. Now it is Viking red. Funny how that works. Sarah loved long hair and so David had long hair. Wore it like a Samurai pony tail, until when in the 2nd grade the class bully taunted him about it. Sarah got the call. He punched out the bully and made him cry. David was fearless. He eventually became friends with the bully, and the bullying stopped. This was our beautiful boy.

By 4th grade he was reading Stephen King. All of Stephen King. There should have been a clue in that, but we didn't catch it. David's intellect was apparent early. He was built for our system of education. If he read it he understood it and remembered it. Learning came easily for him, and so he flew through school. Soccer was his sport and as a child his team was one of the best in the state, but for most of his teammates, burnout set in and deprived NFA of a treasure trove of talent. I was a runner and so he entered my world of cross country. He had good cardio and like his mother likes to tell him...about many things..."it's genetic." These things made life easy for David, but in time he chose the most dark of journeys. It was within this journey that David learned non-judgement and most importantly, compassion. Having experienced the deepest level of judgement and loathing he chose their opposite.

His intellect, curiosity and athleticism is not what made David our beautiful boy. What made him such has been reflected in the hundreds of messages sent to Sarah and I on the effect David had on those he touched. Through everything our beautiful boy was kind, compassionate and open to everyone. If you were struggling he was there for you. His laughter was infectious and his smile seemed more warming than the sun. I suppose his mother and I instilled the basics, but his dark journey taught him how powerful acceptance, empathy and compassion can be.

When he came out of his darkness and back into the light of the living we had our beautiful boy back, risen like the mythological Phoenix from the burning cauldron. He knew the history of those that entered the cauldron, all for their own reasons. They bring something back, but the fire is always close behind. David's legacy are those he has touched in a way that may have changed them in ways they are not yet aware. The physical symbol of that legacy is a loving community he started with his friend Josh. That community is Crossfit Payback. You have become the living symbol of David's spirit. Determination, strength, acceptance, compassion and inclusion. These traits are my Beautiful boy. He is physically done here, but the seeds he has planted in us will grow...if we tend to them. TEND. ❤️

Calling hours will be Saturday April 8, 2017 from 1 to 3 PM at the Cummings-Gagne Funeral Home 82 Cliff Street Norwich, CT.
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