Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Forever young

By Yesenia Reynoso

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — His eyes wandered towards the ceiling as he recollected his thoughts,

thinking intently on what his response would be, the resemblance to the statue of the Thinker

was uncanny, and on his own, David Young became his own work of art.

David Young, who recently turned 35, is a man of many experiences. A father, a son, a

husband and friend, his life has been a journey of many destinations.

From an early age, Young understood what it meant to assume responsibility.

“I grew up very quickly,” Young said. “I helped raise my two brothers and my sister,

although they might not agree.”

Although his siblings might not agree, Martha Ashline, Young’s mother remembers all of

his helpfulness as a kid.

“He was a pretty good kid,” Ashline said. “He helped out a lot and I think because of it

he matured faster.”

“He was always curious, always asking questions, smart for his age,” Ashline said.

This natural curiosity transcended his childhood and spread like wildfire as he was

growing up.

“He would ask me questions, and I would respond as best as possible,” Ashline said. “I

made sure he knew what was what.”

Despite an upbringing that caused him to grow up faster than most, Young never lost his

sense of playfulness and his outgoing nature.

“He was a very outgoing kid,” Ashline said. “One time he and his brother took their

sister’s toys, and threw them out of the second story window, and after, well, they peed on it.”

Young recalls the incident, “it’s a funny story, probably not for my sister though,” Young


DJ, as many of his relatives call him, grew up with a sense of wanting to help others, and

that desire landed him in interesting places.

“Growing up, I was very patriotic,” Young said. “My father was in the Air Force and my

stepdad was in the Navy, so I felt like it was my civic responsibility to give back, so 4 days after

my high school graduation, I joined the Air Force.”

For reasons beyond his control, Young was medically discharged on October 2001.

“I was upset, happy, and relieved all at once,” Young said.

“It was a rough transition for me,” Young said. “There’s no structure in civilian life.

Everything in the Air Force was routine. It was a whole different life.”

This transition would prove to be even more difficult when in 2004 Young was diagnosed

with a tumor the size of a softball in his intestines.

“I had surgery followed by a year of chemotherapy,” Young said. “I had six spinal taps,

and that affected my memory which is why I can’t remember some details.”

This experience affected him in ways that were unprecedented.

“During my chemotherapy, I almost committed suicide,” Young said. “I felt that people

pitied me, and that I was a burden on everyone, and I didn’t want to be; I thought how easy it

could be for me to just end it all.”

“My mom was the person who put it all in perspective for me,” Young said. “I just

remember talking to her and there being a lot of crying.”

For Young’s mother, the experience wasn’t easy either.

“I was scared,” Ashline said. “He looked so sick; he had no hair. I was just so scared.”

His mother was not the only person Young had by his side during that year, he also had

the support and love of his high school sweetheart Mia.

“We had met in eighth grade study hall,” Mia recalled. “My friend introduced us and

later that day he kind of came out of nowhere and pushed me up against my locker, and kissed

me. It was like something out of a movie.”

“We dated on and off for a couple of years and finally one day we ended it for real,” Mia


Both Mia and DJ went their separate ways, but eventually circumstances brought them

together again.

“I was at the hospital one day and I saw his mom,” Mia said. “I asked her about DJ and

she said he was okay and that he was getting chemotherapy, I was so angry, I didn’t know. I sent

him an angry email saying ‘you can’t not tell me things like this’!”

“After that, he gave me his hospital schedule and I was there for him,” Mia said.

At the time, both Mia and DJ were in relationships with other people, and it would be a

while until they finally found themselves willing and able to be together again.

“We took a road trip together to get some of her stuff from where she was living with her

ex, and that road trip is what brought us back together,” Young said; a road trip that neither

would ever forget.

“That road trip was on May 20 th , 2006,” Mia said. “I remember it.”

From then, things changed quite quickly.

“The doctors had told DJ that he couldn’t have kids, and so one day we just decided to

try,” Mia said. “Then, I found out I was pregnant, and I told myself ‘wow so that’s what happens

when you have unprotected sex’.”

“I was super happy, but scared,” Young said. “My children are gifts.”

After finding out about the pregnancy, both Mia and David decided to move up their

timelines, and on June 21 st , 2007, they were married. By November their daughter Eliza was


“My dad is fun, and he plays with us,” Eliza said. “He’s really good at tests.”

Shortly after Eliza’s birth Young returned to work at three jobs to support his family.

Sometime after, Young returned to school at Clinton Community College, first for

nursing and later changed it to human services. The desire to help others was obviously still


While at school at Clinton, Mia became pregnant with their second child, Kellan. In a

matter of time his family of three, became a family of four.

In January 2015, Young quit his job and decided to pursue school full-time. He is now

studying Communications at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“I want to be some sort of inspirational speaker,” Young said. “I’ve experienced a lot in


Young now owns his very own business, and is at the same time an advocate

for diversity and social justice. His life experiences have shaped him into the person he is today,

whether it’s as a husband, father, student or friend.

“He’s so complex,” Mia said. “There are so many facets to him. He’s an amazing father,”

a statement that his family agrees with.

Kellan, his youngest child believes that he is most like his father, “Except that I’m not

bald,” Kellan joked.

The influence he has on others does not stop at his abilities as a father.

“As a husband, he is amazing,” Mia said. “He loves me in a way I’ve never been loved

and he sees me in a way that I don’t understand.”

A man of many skills, Young has persevered through every obstacle thrown his way, and

has emerged as a man of strength, endurance, and love.

“If there’s one lesson that my life has taught me is don’t be afraid to live and don’t be

afraid to love,” Young said. “Do both as deeply and as powerfully as you can.”

1 comment:

  1. DJ, is a wonderful young man with the strength not many have. I have prayed for him a very long time and will continue. He has a mother that loves her children with all her heart. May he continue on his journey and let it bring him a much deserving happiness.