"All The World's a Classroom"

World Smart Kids Experiences a Tragedy

..."Darren was just 42 years old when he died. The doctors suspect there was a tear in his aorta. He was in great health and had just had an annual physical.

He was fine mid-day on Monday and gone on Tuesday morning. The doctors said that this can happen to us at any time (mostly between 40-70, and men are ~3 times more likely to go than women).

Darren and I talked many times about what would happen if we passed away early. He wanted a celebration, with music playing and people laughing, so that's what we're doing. We're celebrating the good times and remembering the happy memories.

I'm so grateful that Darren and I took the time to do what was important to us, traveling and being with our girls." --- Nicky

Darren’s passion for bluegrass music was contagious. During our trip, we met so many interesting people when they heard Darren practicing; many had never seen a banjo before. One of his favorite moments was in the town square in Cusco, Peru; when a group of traveling musicians stopped playing to hear Darren and play with him (see his story of Peru).

After we returned from our trip, Darren was so excited when Dominique, asked for a fiddle. Darren loved to play bluegrass music with Dominique. Everyone that Darren played with was always in great spirits—he always said that even bad news sounds good when you’re playing the banjo. We will keep his spirit and passion for bluegrass music alive by continuing to play bluegrass music in the family.

People have asked how they can support us. In lieu of any donations, please support Darren's passion of bluegrass music by supporting PineCone, a not-for-profit group in North Carolina who are dedicated to keeping traditional music alive.

I have received so many tributes from people who met Darren who say that his passion for living life to the fullest profoundly impacted their lives. I saw these special qualities in Darren when I met him, so we got married right out of college, well before either of us ever envisioned in our life after college because we knew we were such a perfect fit.

We had twenty years together and I laughed as much on our last weekend together as I did on our first date. We did so much and got so much out of those twenty years, I really feel like we squeezed 60 years worth of life into 20. We had no regrets. I am so grateful that we took our trip when we did. We chose to travel in 2006 because we didn't want to be in our rocking chairs lamenting about the things we really wanted to do and didn't do. My only real sorrow is that he won't be around any more, especially for the girls. He was such an amazing influence in their lives. I've attached a short photo video of some of Darren's moments, which was pulled together in the early morning hours by some great friends when they first found out about Darren's passing. (Celebration of Life Video Here (Working on upload: 11.1.2008)). I've also attached my favorite picture of Darren, which I took in South Africa, just as the mist was rolling in at the end of the day. Some people have said it looks like Darren now, sitting in heaven and looking down on us, making sure that we're living life to the fullest, because even sad news is OK when you're playing the banjo. -- Nicky

banjo dude

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Nicky Rousseau

Sponsor of World Smart Kids