The greatest man I ever knew wasn’t famous, although he touched more lives than I can even imagine. He wasn’t proud or boastful even though he could have been; he accomplished a great deal in his life. He was the most generous, loving man I’ve ever met. He was my father-in-law, David Koffman.
David passed away on May 1st. It was completely unexpected. My wife Emily, her mother Trudy, and I are still having a hard time believing it’s true. I think we all still feel like he’s going to come home at any minute. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult. I can’t even imagine how hard it has been for Emily and Trudy.
I only knew David for about seven years, but it feels like a lot longer. When I first met him, two things were immediately obvious. The first was that he was extremely outgoing and friendly. In the days after his passing, I was struck by how many people I heard say “David Koffman was my best friend.” He had a way of making everybody feel important; of making everybody feel like they were his best friend.
The second thing that was clear when I met him was that he loved his wife and daughter more than life itself. I’ve never seen a closer family. David, Trudy, and Emily weren’t just father, mother, and daughter, they were best friends. In the years since I met Emily, we’ve spent countless hours with her parents – not because we feel like we have to, but because we want to. We always have a great time together.
I doubt that I’ll ever meet anybody as generous and loving as David. He gave so much of himself to help others – his money, his time, his love, his knowledge and advice, the list goes on. There are dozens (probably even hundreds) of people who could tell you that they wouldn’t be where they are if David hadn’t helped them in some way. People could tell you how much he helped them financially, spiritually, and more. I, for one, know that I owe a lot to David.
In John 15:13, Jesus tells us this:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Until recently, I always thought this was referring to dying for someone. A few days after David’s passing, though, I realized that maybe it didn’t necessarily mean dying for others; maybe it meant putting your own life aside and putting others first. I think this verse really described David. There were countless times when he dropped everything he was doing to help others. He truly laid down his own life so that he could have an impact on the lives of those that he cared about.
Lately, we’ve been trying to gather up all of the voicemails, emails, text messages, pictures, and videos we can find of David. At home, Emily and I have an iMac that I rarely use. The other day, though, I got on it and opened Messages. It had been a long time since I had done so, so there were a lot of old iMessages that I had received over the past few months. I quickly closed most of them, but then I saw a string of messages between David and myself and started reading them. When I got to one message in particular, I was really taken aback:
Enjoy your day!! Thanks for being a great son n law. Take care of my girls!! I remember when he sent this message. It was in March. We were vacationing together as we do every year in St. Thomas. Emily, Trudy, and I decided to go to the nearby island of St. John for a few hours that day while David stayed at our resort to spend some time at the pool. Even though I clearly remember the circumstances surrounding the message, it feels like he just sent it. I think he would say the exact same thing to me if he could send me a message today. A lot of people have told me lately that I need to take care of Emily and Trudy, but hearing it from David really makes it sink in.
David was a lot of things to a lot of people – a friend, a boss, a leader, a teacher, a brother, a husband, a father – but there’s something special about knowing that I’m the only person who can say he was my father-in-law. The amount of love that he showed me in the handful of years that I knew him is something that I will be forever grateful for. I just hope that he knew the feeling was mutual. He was the greatest man I ever knew and I will miss him for the rest of my life. I’m glad to know that I will see him again someday.