The man who inspired DeepRichDirt
I was in California at my little brother Amos’ wedding. Sitting next to me at a table, Amos talked about a children’s story I’d shared with him – a story about an old pecan tree and a little girl. Always great with kids, he loved the story and he said it seemed like an important message, worthwhile to illustrate and publish. As always when talking and listening to Amos, his exceptionally deep and active mind made that conversation imaginative and uplifting.
The evening of that same day, I had an experience like a very lucid dream. One moment in this dream burned itself into my memory. More on that later.
Several months later, I was sitting in my living room in Fayetteville. It was between 6 and 7 in the morning on March 18th, 2020. Amanda had already left for work, but our two little boys weren’t awake yet. Per my daily habit, I was starting the day with some quiet time and coffee. My cell phone rang with a call from Amos’ number. I assumed this was another one of his random calls to talk about philosophy, the nature of existence, or some other idea that intrigued him at the time. I always enjoyed hearing his ideas. Grinning, I picked up the phone. “Hey, Amos!”
It wasn’t Amos on the other end. It was his wife, and she was crying.
“Amos shot himself.” She couldn’t continue.
Her brother-in-law took the phone from her and apologetically explained to me that my brilliant 29-year-old brother was now lying dead outside their apartment.
My soul felt ripped out. All I could manage was a call to Amanda saying come home from work, mentioning why. Until she arrived I sat there numbly, a persistent buzzing filling my ears, barely able to think or speak.
While Amanda booked tickets to California, I went in the backyard. There was a potted tree I hadn’t yet planted in the ground. I grabbed a shovel. I’m not sure how long I spent planting that tree. My vision was fuzzy, the buzzing in my ears had become a deafening ring, and a numb sensation seized me. I prepared the dirt, put the tree in the ground, mulched and watered it carefully. My forehead ached. The thoughts and feelings piled up somewhere behind a thick curtain in my head, pressing down on me with crushing weight. A terrible weight of responsibility and confusion.
On the outside, I more or less held myself together. But internally over the next few months, I felt my life begin to unravel. It wasn’t that violent death was foreign to me—it was already familiar. It wasn’t even that Amos was “too young to die” or that we’d all miss him. It was the indescribable value he was supposed to contribute to the world—the possibility of helping people see life and each other through his eyes—that seemed lost.
Beneath the surface, somewhere in my spirit, losing Amos seemed to spin me off into an abyss.
Not everyone can relate to all Amos’ choices or his impulses—especially the impulse that killed him. Every one of us is an imperfect human. We have lapses in judgement; we make mistakes. Our urges don’t always take us in the healthiest directions. Even the strongest of us have moments we wish we could go back and do differently. If psychedelic mushrooms or similar medications are ever used, they must be used very carefully with the hazards clearly in mind.
Amos Crew was full of exuberant life, and he had depth of character. When he said something, he meant it. When he said he would do something, he did it. In the Marine Corps, he outperformed his peers consistently. Everything he did was in earnest, full of focus and excellence. His mind was full of creative vitality, but most striking was that his mind seemed to hold no arrogance or hatred. Despite his military service, he never seemed to understand animosity toward other people. He lived in a different sort of way. No matter who he was dealing with, he never seemed to view anyone as being beneath him or unworthy of his time and concern.
Amos inspired me to start living life in a better way, connecting with people, and trying to add brightness to the world.
Back to the dream on Amos’ wedding day that burned itself into my mind. The moment was a scene and feeling that’s impossible to put into words adequately, but I’ll try. A cascade of brilliantly visual memories, ideas and realizations all rushing at me, into and out of my consciousness… they all finally coalesce into one point. The point is like a dynamic flowing funnel, a tree-like portal where all life, beauty, and light flows up from below. The unspeakable significance of this flowing point… an intuitive significance connected somewhere deep in my mind. Somehow, words rose into my mind, whispered repeatedly and echoing as if through the whole universe. “The thing that heals” was how the words connected to this vision of a tree-like flow of vitality. All very ethereal and intangible.
No more than 50 yards from where I had that dream, Amos died a few months later. Of all people, I kept thinking, why would Amos die feeling so alone?
For months, on the surface I seemed to be coping very well. I stayed busy playing the entrepreneur game. But internally (and in my relationship with Amanda) my life was unraveling. The light in my mind was flickering dimly, the passion snuffed out. All the old dirtiness in my life somehow came back and stared me in the face.
Then, in late July and August, things changed dramatically. I’ll spare the details, but part of it involved publishing the story Amos loved, The Peculiar Pecan Tree. With it, Amanda and I launched DeepRichDirt Publishing.
Later in 2020, God brought us the help we need to make DeepRichDirt something much more tangible and broader. A team is coming together to make the world a better place... like Amos would have wanted.
Our vision runs deeper than words can say. But I hope all the value we create may serve as a tribute to Amos Crew, the man who inspired DeepRichDirt.