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ORM Wholeness: Making Peace With All of Our Broken Pieces



First things first, let me raise an energetic glass to one of the most soulful humans to ever walk our planet, Dave Hemmeline. To say he will be missed is a gross understatement. He spent a few years living in Kansas City and I am grateful that I got to play a lot of disc golf with him. He recognized all of the love and magic at play in the world, both on and off the course, and I truly valued every word that came out of his mouth.


He spoke straight from his heart, with glee, and it was infectious. You would learn quickly that he loved his family with a pride that came straight from gratitude. No matter how much talent and skill he displayed at all times, Dave always considered himself tremendously lucky. He knew he was in the right place at the right time a whole lot of the time, and that was a sentiment we shared. I was sad to see him go when he inevitably moved back to Texas, but that was clearly my ego’s reaction. My soul was well aware how lucky we all were to get to know him, even for a short time, because through his artistic eyes, every little thing became a much cooler experience. He will continue to be a Mentor throughout my life, even though he’s not here, physically.


Wholeness can be hard to pull together sometimes. I can’t imagine the pain and loss Dave’s family and closest friends are feeling right now, and my heart is full for each of them. I know there is nothing that will fill the void that exists in the places he used to occupy – only Dave can do that. That’s a hard truth. I view myself as a willing student of the universe, but it’s not easy for me to find any meaning in losing such a strong, healthy, bright light who imparts such positivity onto so many people. As humans, we want things to follow order and reason, but in most cases of life and death, senselessness prevails. We are only prepared to let go of our loved ones when they have lived a ‘complete’ life, and even then, some people still can’t help but cling to the outer shell that once housed the person that they still love. The fact is, nothing is never really enough. No matter what we get in the end, we seem to always want more. There will never be enough Dave Hemmeline in the world, as far as I’m concerned, and I hear a universal second to that sentiment ringing out among the stars!


On Monday morning, this crushing news hit me like a waterfall, and I couldn’t help being pulled to the emotional conditions of the previous ORM Cycle, when Sam Sprague – a truly phenomenal 13 year old kid – suffered a tragic stroke on March 12, 2024. In an instant, life’s landscape changed for Sam’s family, his friends, his school, and his community. The ripple effect of his personal story has reached beyond the scope of measure, and I know that Sam’s friends will carry a part of him into their adult lives. I’ll never be able to watch Richard Dreyfuss’s thoughtful character in Stand By Me without thinking of Sam’s impact on all of the classmates who attended his memorial. Sam was a rare kid who understood how to appreciate the roots of his deeply felt connections, and he went out of his way to make sure that other kids felt connected, too. Sam’s parents, Kathy Betcher and Chris Sprague, have each, individually, made an impact on their respective communities, including a shared love for disc golf that reaches across the globe. And Sam did, too.


Sampson Sprague seemed to know, inherently (and from a young age), that he was part of something bigger than himself. His final text to his Mom, Kathy, will always stay with my heart. She had sent him a picture of the moon from outside their house, at the garden gate, commenting that she hadn’t been able to capture it exactly how she wanted. His response let her know that it was still a really good picture, even if it hadn’t reached her idea of perfection. Value v. Ideal – Sam got it. He was just that good at bringing discouraging thoughts down to earth! It makes me wonder out loud if his wisdom came from a place of knowing that his life would be meaningful, but shorter than most. Maybe even because of it?


Which brings my thoughts back to December 4, 2023, when my dad, Duffy Carduff, died right as we began Winter’s Wholeness Week. It was also my oldest daughter’s 35th birthday, and given their feisty relationship, it makes sense that he would make her life a part of his passing… It’s been a long six months, and I have learned more than I expected to about myself. And Grief. And Time. Duffy’s birthday and Father’s Day have come and gone, and the gravity can still feel unsettling. Some days are better than others. I can’t say I’ve accomplished a lot of things since he passed, but I can speak to a lot of new experiences that have come my way. My thoughts have taken priority over action, and it has been nice to spend time gardening, reflecting, listening to music, writing and remembering as much as I can about what he’s taught me over the years. He has been a solid Mentor/Tormentor, and I know his outlook and philosophies are a huge part of the structure of my own. Even as he was dying, he passed along new wisdom surrounding death itself, and that feels powerful.


Unlike Sam and Dave, we had some warning that Duffy wasn’t well. In fact, we had a months-long scare nearly two years earlier, so we were well versed in appreciating every single moment we got to have with him. Perspective is a wonderful tool, and I know that losing Dave Hemmeline will provide quite a bit of it in the coming months, as I wrestle with wanting to call my dad and not being able to do that. There are some questions that only he can answer, and that deep awareness continues to grow. Dave’s loved ones are just waking up to that realization and again, my heart swells for them… 


Permanently unavailable is a hard concept to accept, and it often takes a little time for it to become real. Especially when the hits will keep coming. The older we get, the more people we know who die each year. There is probably a scientific principle that explains the math, but until someone tells me what it is, my experience continues to reinforce that belief, with every passing season. Death is something we have little control over, so it comes as an energetic shock to our system. We ech handle that in different ways.


Writing about Dave Hemmeline feels good, and creates a balance for the thoughts I’ve found hard to capture in words lately. I made a few attempts to write about Sam Sprague, but everything felt too personal -– too raw to translate. It’s not ripe for public interpretation yet, so the beauty behind the tragedy is still blurred in the sadness of the loss. I will only write that story if I can find a way to genuinely convey the magic and love that supported my friends while their worlds broke apart underneath them, with tragedy and beauty stitting right next to each other in the same room. 


I could continue to write about my dad forever (and bet, I probably will), because his opinions will always weigh in on my life choices, whether he is here to give them in person or not. Our people stay with us energetically, if we let them. The Wholeness Pillar/Wholeness Week exists for the purpose of keeping us aware of everything we have been through. It is Wholeness that keeps our hearts connected to all of the people we have cared for, no matter where they are now.


There are 621 PDGA numbers between Dave Hemmeline’s and mine, and there might be 621 people who knew him better than I did, personally. From a soul perspective, however, we were super tight, and could talk about anything. I can’t remember when or where I met him, but I will never forget the feeling that I’d always known him – and he always told me he felt the same way. We had some friends in common, similar philosophies on life, and a shared passion for creativity. We both got a kick out of seeing Soul Energies operating in Wholeness, and we made a thing of it. Sometimes we would look at each other and say, “that really just happened…” when we witnessed nature’s magic on the disc golf course. 


I remember how excited he was when he won the Glass Blown Open in 2010, and how humble he was when accepting wins or compliments. He saw the Wholeness in everything because he was always looking for it, and he enjoyed the lightness of being authentic. It interested and inspired him, and that quality fueled the rest of us who got to know him. He made it all look so easy, though we know that’s not how life works! 


Years ago, Dave showed up in a series of recurring dreams: he was in the background on a wire, like a puppet, and he was singing David Byrne’s cover of “Don’t Fence Me In”. He laughed out loud when I told him about it. He could relate to the song’s meaning, but he said he always felt free. I like to think it was Dave’s soul reminding mine that the only boundaries I see for myself are of my own making. He was brilliant in simple expression and I will miss his willingness to share his considered thoughts and feelings so freely.


Loss is immediately emotional, and each of us react to our feelings very differently. Whether we deny or accept the many ways that we feel plays a huge role in how those feelings are likely to affect us in the future.  Absent awareness, we can become lost in sadness and grief, making each new day a challenge. Becoming aware of our own wholeness is part of the lifelong evaluation process that each of us undertake every single day, whether we know it or not. When we are actively engaged in how it operates, we feel like we can affect certain things. When we deny our connection to that ability, we are subjected to our own reaction process over and over again, without gaining the meaningful awareness that moves us through each situation. As if the fight or flight mechanism has gotten stuck in the on position. There are a lot of us walking around like that, but Dave Hemmeline wasn’t one of them.


As I close out this blog, I feel loved, supported and grateful while I am also experiencing deep sadness. And that feels Whole. I think about Dave, Sam, and Duffy as Mentors in my life. I think about the love that poured from each of them, because they had it to give, and it made sense to them to share it. I think about how everything is bigger in Texas, and I hope that doesn’t apply to their grief. This is a tough loss, and I hope it inspires people to go back and look at the beautiful messages Dave has left us through his photographs, his art, his music, and his words. There is one single thread that shines through everything he did, and that thread is LOVE. If there were only one thing I could take away from his memory, it would be his message of love: show, receive, repeat. I think it captures his style perfectly, and I will challenge myself to do that every day in his honor. Goodbye old friends, we’ll be missing you…



2 Comments


This Is such a beautiful piece. The love you have shown to Duffy, Sam, and Dave is truly inspired! Love you Tav!

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Thanks Sam! You are a like-minded soul, to be sure :)

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