The world seems a little more empty…

The world seems a little more empty. A very close friend of mine, or as he would have said, “my bud” passed away this past Friday, April 13th. Cpl Sean F. Carabine USMC(Ret) is finally able to rest after a 9 year battle with an inoperable brain stem tumor. Sean left a large impact on anyone he met. He was one of those guys that as soon as you met him you felt like you had known him all your life. His charisma was magnetic and you just loved to be around Sean.

More information can be found on their blog:

His family is asking that if anyone would like to make a donation in Sean’s honor, please make it to either of the following organizations. Thank you in advance!

The American Brain Tumor Association

The Carabine Fund for Iraqi Children

This is actually a fund that was setup by Sean’s sister-in-law TracyAnn in Sean’s honor to send schools supplies and soccer balls to Iraqi children. At this point, the site does not accept online payment, so please write checks (Payable to “Carabine Fund for Iraqi Children”) or cash and this can be brought to the memorials or given to a family member.

Either organization is fine, both were places that Sean supported.

I met Sean in 1999 at Capitol College while we were taking a Saturday class together to try and get our MCSE certification (what was I thinking?). We had gone down to the computer lab to take a look at the internals of a computer and Sean happened to be in a group with Nick and I. As usual, we were done the lab first and waiting for everyone else to catch up. While we waited, we chatted and Sean mentioned that he was a Marine and had been retired from active duty (as any Marine will tell you, you are always a Marine, never a former Marine or a retired Marine). Sean has always looked like he was my age so I couldn’t believe that he was retired. I asked him how old he was and at the time, he was 27, still too young to be retired. My persistent questioning finally revealed that he was medically retired for a brain tumor. That’s how Sean was though, you had to ask and ask and ask some more before he told you about his tumor. He never sought pity or used it as an excuse. I’m sure that I was stunned and probably speechless but then nothing really prepared me for what followed. He told me that he was given six months to live. My first reaction was, “What the hell are you doing in school?” But Sean made you feel at ease, like it was no big deal, he was going to beat this.

As the months passed, all six of them, there was no sign that Sean was any worse than he had been when I first met him. He was in better shape than I was and his attitude was great. I thought he must have been cured but when I inquired, he just said he was given six more months. And this was Sean’s life for the first few years that I knew him. Every doctors visit he was given another six months to live. I can remember my stomach being in knots and getting nervous when he would hit the three month mark but Sean was always mellow and cool about it. He was going to beat this and there was no doubt in his mind about that.

I spent a lot of time with Sean throughout school. Enduring a three hour drive to Montgomery Village, I would go over his house on Saturday mornings and hang out drinking IBC root beer while we tore apart computers and Sean thought of ways for us to get rich. During the week we would go to the Irish Pizza Pub for lunch and dinner with our favorite waitress “Box of Rocks” and dream up more plans to get rich.

Sean and I even started two web development companies that we were going to use to take over the world starting with the businesses in the East Hamptons and a certain equestrian organization. Sean was the brains behind the business and I was the muscle. Things never took off though since Sean was about to go through a nasty divorce.

Sean lived more life in his 35 years than most of us will in our entire lifetime. You were honored to have been around Sean while he told one of his tales of adventure. As he would tell the story, you couldn’t help but think that the story was so wild and outrageous that there was no way it could have really happened. Then you meet Sean’s friends who were there at the time or you talk to his parents and realize that Sean was telling the entire truth. If anything his modesty had him holding back on some of the details that his parents were more than happy to fill you in on.

One of my all time favorite Sean stories had me in tears laughing so hard the first time I heard it. Him and three friends were driving through a relatively remote location when they saw an older couple pulled over on the side of the road looking at the front of their car. Sean was never one to avoid an opportunity to lend a hand so he pulled over to see if he could help. The older couple told him that they had struck a deer and the deer went running, obviously hurt and suffering, into the woods on the side of the road. Sean asked the older man to come with him to see if they could find the deer and put an end to its suffering while everyone else stayed with the woman and the vehicles. They eventually found the deer not too far in the woods and it was obviously in pain. Being a Carabine, Sean was armed and fired a shot into the deer. The deer flinched a little but was still alive. Sean fired another round, and another, and another and finally emptied his gun into the grieving animal. As Sean and the older gentlemen made their way back to the cars, the older woman was clearly out of control and freaking out. She had heard the many gun shots and thought for sure that Sean was shooting her husband.

Sean loved to help people. He got a kick out of driving around during winter storms in his suburban and jeep and pulling people out of the snow. When I bought my house in 2001, Sean practically spent the entire first week with us getting it ready and livable. The first day in our new home, Sabrina and I ran off to the hardware store to get new locks for the house and Sean stayed behind steam cleaning carpets so we could start to bring our boxes in. My Aunt, Cousin, and Grandmother decided to stop by to see our new home but since they didn’t see our cars, they weren’t sure they were at the right house. They sent my cousin, Derek, in to the house to do a little recon. Derek walked into the house yelling my name, “Shawn? Are you here? Shawn?” Sean heard the calls over the steam cleaner from the upstairs and not being able to distinguish acoustically Sean from Shawn, he yelled back, “I’m up here.” Derek made his way upstairs and peaked into the bedroom to see someone he didn’t recognize steam cleaning. As Derek tells it, he couldn’t get out of the house fast enough. He nearly jumped down the entire flight of stairs and ran out the front door yelling to my Aunt and Grandmother, “This isn’t it! This isn’t Shawn’s house! There was some guy upstairs and steam cleaning!” Slightly panicked, my Grandmother called me on my cell phone and I had to explain to her that we were out getting locks and my friend Sean was there steam cleaning. When we got home, I introduced Derek and the rest of my family to Sean so that next time there wouldn’t be any mistake.

As I said before, Sean was instrumental in helping us get into our home. He was there every weekend for the few months we were there helping us clean, getting housewares from the commissary, and putting together furniture. One day while we were putting furniture together, my five young cousins came over. They were instantly drawn to Sean, as most people are. All the adults were downstairs with the exception of Sean, who was upstairs with my cousins playing with the styrofoam nuggets that our furniture was packaged in. There was a lot of giggling coming from the top floor and then finally Sean made his way down with a big smile on his face. Sean said to us, “We were all playing with the styrofoam and one of your cousins said, ‘Let’s put it down our pants.’ I figured I was the only adult up there and I wasn’t related to them so I thought I should come downstairs with the other adults.”

Watching people gather and enjoy each other was very fulfilling for Sean. He loved to see people having fun and encouraged us to strengthen our bonds between each other. There was a time when Sean was having cookouts every otherweekend. The amount of people coming to these gatherings just kept growing as Sean encouraged people to invite their friends. Sean made everyone feel welcomed and special. We would crash his parents house for 4th of July weekend. There would be a ton of us sleeping all over the house. Wherever there was space available, we filled it. His parents never seemed to mind and Sean loved to play tour guide.

The selfish side of me is very sad that Sean is gone. I will miss everything about him and somehow my life seems a little more empty without him. However, given the opportunity and knowing the outcome, I would happily relive these past 8 years. Sean taught me so much about life and how to “Live life or die trying” as he would always put it. I’m a better person for having known Sean and we are all a little better for having him in this world. I am indebted to him for everything he taught me about friendship, bravery, and helping others. The less selfish part of me is thankful that Sean can now rest and does not have to fight anymore. He fought his brain tumor until the very end with pride and dignity and I’m positive that his next life will be rewarded for the kindness and compassion that he showed all of us. I am thankful that I was able to introduce Sean to Stephanie, who gave him the love and care that he deserved over the past few years. I know that Sean was much happier having her in his life as I’m sure she was having him in hers.

“The glorious chariots of kings wear out, and the body wears out and grows old; but the virtue of the good never grows old…”

Sean’s parents provided the following quote which I think couldn’t be more descriptive of Sean.

The Warrior Creed
Wherever I walk, everyone is safer.
Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend.
Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there.

By Robert L. Humphrey
Marine Lieutenant on Iwo Jima

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