We were all children once, and, although it might not seem fair, once is all we get, once is all we are promised. Once was never meant to be forever, but sometimes it is. That’s the mystery and sorrow of losing a child.
Daisi Smith passed away early Wednesday morning, only a few days after her 15th birthday. Like all children, and some adults really, the anticipation of playing with a new toy can override any sense of clarity. A new car, a new phone, or a new video game must be touched immediately. In this case, a new skateboard must be ridden. It has to be.
As the family explained, her new skateboard arrived a few days late and nighttime meant waiting for the next day. The “next day” came at 4:30 a.m. and what is a child to do?
Daisi was struck in the intersection of North Swan Road and East Fifth Street and she passed away from her injuries at a hospital. Even in times of physical distancing, news of her death quickly spread through the Rincon/University High School community and a memorial started to form on that corner.
Daisi was a child who saw the world through rainbows and laughter and she dreamed of a just world and, when she saw injustice, she would add her voice to the chorus for change and, anytime she saw sadness or tears, she would tell one of her legendary jokes.
“Anytime she saw injustice she would speak up,” her mother Jennifer Michael said. “She was so engaged. She just wanted people to feel safe.”
Daisi was also a budding soccer standout who anchored the defense for the junior varsity team as a freshman and she was a leader on her club team, FC Sonora.
“She was our center back and she was helpful and one of our stronger players,” JV head coach Paul Ecelbarger said at a memorial for Daisi on Sunday. “She was very, very sweet and she spoke her mind. She was trying to figure things out and she grew. She hardly spoke but we had her work our table to welcome new freshmen to campus and she was full of enthusiasm and she was bubbly. I couldn’t wait to see that enthusiasm on our team next year.”
Thoughts of having a drive-by memorial at that busy intersection gave way to a candlelight memorial at the family home Sunday where friends, teachers and family could drop by and offer social closeness, even at a few feet away from one another.
Forever 15, Daisi lived a life full of dreams and promises for a better life beyond herself. She touched friends in a way that their tomorrows might also be her tomorrow. As long as her dreams are alive in them, then forever can really mean forever.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org