Gregg Burke: “An Indescribable Loss”
Devon D. Quigley has passed and is free of his earthly chains. It is an indescribable loss.
It was Wednesday, November 30, 2011 and I was going to watch URI play basketball at Brown. After early dinner with a friend at Metacomet, we walked past the trophy case by the side door and I pointed out a scorecard showing that Devon Quigley had the course record.
Less than five hours later he had suffered a traumatic brain injury and his life, as well as all who loved him (and little did anyone know, the lives of thousands he had never met), changed forever.
It was inconceivable, both the accident and him surviving it.
The following March I went to Florida and a trauma center where he was being cared for. I walked into the room and found a hero.
I stayed about four hours and saw the Immovable Force (that would be Charlotte) and a bevy of nurses and a doctor or two tending to Devon. A Devon I simply didn’t know.
There was no broad smile, no mirth, no pre-loaded tease coming my way. It was just emptiness.
From there I posted time and again about his progress. I followed Dana’s posts as sustenance to fuel the dream we all had that he would come back to us.
We got him to a URI hoops game a couple times and he glowed. There was his annual birthday party and the inevitable shot he would somehow muster towards me, despite his lack of complete verbal skills.
My friendship with The Force grew over the years and texts and updates would lift me. We got him into a brain clinic at URI and found that equally inconceivable hope. I also got to know the remarkable Nicole (and a bit later TJ), and reveled in the family surrounding Dev.
One time I was invited to The Bears Club in Florida where Dana held court with Charlotte and Dev at the table with us.
Dana was his typical gregarious self, taking fun swings at everyone that stopped by the table, but whenever he thought Dev needed something that day, he was simply a dad. Just a dad.
I did make the career mistake of inviting Dev to practice at Point Judith. Charlotte had told me that a couple times when they were driving near URI or Point Judith, Dev would spell my name because he thought they would see me. So we made it official and invited him to practice.
After about an hour, it was time to say goodbye. The guys were great listening to a few stories and treating Dev like the former Rhody star he was. You could ask Dev a question and to say ‘yes’ he would look up, and to say ‘no’ he would look down.
I made clear it would not be the last time he would come to practice. And I turned to Dev and said: ‘would you like to come back and see me and the guys?’. Devon looked down and made a sound to indicate ‘no’.
The Force jumped forward and sternly said: ‘Devon Quigley, after all coach and the team did for you, do you want to come back and see Coach Burke and the team?’. Again the flop of blonde hair tilted downward with another ‘no’.
Charlotte was aghast. I told her I would handle this. I looked at Devo and asked: ‘Dev, would you like to come to practice and see the guys if it was a day I WASN’T here? That head moved slightly north and his eyes flew to the heavens and he chortled his approval of the idea.
It was perfect Devon. He made sure he got in one more shot and had the last laugh.
Charlotte and I made plans for Dev to come to practice this spring.
A birthday present sits in my car because rain cancelled his event this year.
I am not quite sure how I will get past missing out on those two things.
At least I found a hero. Thanks Charlotte.