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We will always remember your struggle for justice for those most powerless in the mental health system, David!

Memorial created 08-1-2008 by
David Oaks
David Romprey
August 18 1965 - July 30 2008

Solidarity of Suffering

David Romprey we miss you but will never forget you  

 by Dan Fisher

Here is a sample of David’s beautiful writing. He was describing his 4 days training the peers in Louisiana after the hurricanes:

As our nation turned to hear and feel the rage and bragging rights of hurricane personalities Katrina and Rita, I was left in another kind of mind-bending wake.  What stunned me more than the two Super-Sizing Storm Sisters and what they could do to homes, half-baked levees and the best laid plans of family-owned shops and town business agendas was all and more, in that “wet and waiting hour”, a broken life and shadowed soul could do for itself and its peers. Meaningful Minds of Louisiana blew my mind - turned over the very streets that were meant to deliver their help - by instead stirring and unfurling a hurricane of hope.   As a people stigmatized to be in need of perpetual help and trained guidance, they instead transformed themselves.  Yet another Governor's burden became instead a powerful partner in the solutions of Louisiana's post-disaster planning.

The spark of hope from these mental health consumers of the hurricane’s wake resonated with fellow mental patients known as peer leaders across the country. These leaders share a solidarity of suffering and could not stand idle.“

 

David reached the suffering consumers of Louisiana as well as myself, Beth Filson and Laverne Miller who had come from different parts of the country to assist in training the peers of Louisiana. David crawled into our hearts and has been residing there ever since.

 

Though I had known David for several years before and we had sung Karaoke and laughed together, we became soul brothers in Louisiana. We worked on a national disaster panel and on the Oregon disaster readiness plan. He had a feeling for disasters. We used to reflect that consumers make natural peer counselors in times of natural disaster because we have survived the disasters of our lives. Another gift from David was he connected me to the wonderful people of eastern Oregon. He seemed to have a knack for reaching the forgotten people. He discovered GOBHI (Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc.) and  introduced me to the consumers, and administrators in GOBHI land. He reached Kimberly Lindsay and she will never be the same. Naturally good hearted and pragmatic, once David had opened Kimberly’s eyes to recovery and peer support she was off and running. Watch out. She agreed to have him bring out a trainer in warm lines and before I knew it he and Kimberly had set up a warm line in Morrow-Wheeler and now several other counties. Next he tackled peer bridgers. Again he readily connected with Matt Mathai in New York and soon had the program set up. How doubly sad that he was about to start his first full-time job in several years as a peer bridger in Salem State Hospital, the original scene of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Indeed like McMurphy in Cuckoo’s Nest, I feel David flying, bigger than life above me at this moment.

 

Hello David. We will keep your spirit and your dreams alive. We may never fly as high or fast as you do  but we feel you with us. A dear friend of mine just told me that she had a dream last night in which,  I saw him flying.  It was so clear and lovely, he was flying like a bird, around and through the clouds, smiling and calling down to us, letting us know that he was all right up there with his new flying freedom.” What a coincidence that we both see him flying. So reassuring that she saw him smiling that big infectious smile, like the boy he always is.  

 

Sometimes you want me to be your father, your mentor, your confidant, but you always give back a thousand fold all that I give you. You are my soul brother. The theme of love runs deep and frequent in our conversations. I love you David and I value that you love me. Love is the deep balm of healing and recovery as David pointed out in one of his recent emails:

"Love is lovely, let it flow...let it blossom, let it grow"

Eric Clapton

In Nicaragua they believe that those who have given much to others live among them as heroes forever. They revere their liberator Augusto Sandino and at meetings shout, ”Sandino, Presente.”  David you are my hero, “David, Presente!”

 

When my older daughter, Caitlin, was ready to fly off to Brazil to pursue her dream of playing soccer, I gave her the following picture of a Great White Egret flying in front of a mangrove stand. I cried as I told her I hoped I had given her the wings and the roots to make a safe journey. I hope too, David, I you the wings and the roots to make your journey. Be well, be happy, and know we are all with you always dear brother.

 

 

 
David and Dan in Baton Rouge 2005

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