Former NHL player Colby Cave’s tragic death on April 11 due to a brain bleed reverberated around the league. Now in a first-person account with ESPN, Cave’s wife, Emily, has shared her story of that devastating day.
Emily revealed what occurred in the hours and days leading up to Colby’s death, and the ways she will seek to continue Colby’s legacy in his absence.
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I have received many messages about the word Agape. “The word that is the secret to marriage and indeed all relationships, is Agape. Agape is special kind of love. Agape, will get you through the ups and downs in a marriage. Agape listens. Agape heals. Agape gets up in the middle of the night when you’re sick. Agape goes on adventures together. Agape supports the others dreams. I pray that you’ll be so good to each other, that you can remind us all that this is real. Love is real. And we’re watching, we’re cheering you on, and it starts with a secret, and the secret is Agape.” Agape is the highest form of love, a selfless love. A love that I’m so grateful I got to experience with my best friend 🤍 I hope and pray everyone can find a love like we shared. Getting to love Colb is the best thing I will ever do, ever. Forever I’m yours, forever I do ✨
Married less than a year, the couple was in Toronto preparing to ride out the coronavirus pandemic with Emily’s parents. On Monday, April 6, Colby was interviewed by a friend from the Caves’s church in Boston. Shortly after, he was informed that he would be returning to the Edmonton Oilers once NHL play resumed.
As the night wore on, Colby, only 25, began to complain of a headache. Things worsened and by the morning, he had arrived at the hospital unresponsive. Doctors found a colloid cyst and underwent emergency surgery. As he was placed on life support and in a medically-induced coma, Emily saw him only once more before his death.
“I fell in love with Colby for many reasons, but most important was his character,” Emily wrote in her ESPN article. “He wasn’t just a good person, he was incredible. He always wanted to help other people. Every morning we had a mantra that we would say to each other: ‘Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.’ That’s how Colby and I lived. And even though he’s no longer physically here with me, I know we are together, working as a married couple, and he’s giving me strength from heaven to continue to inspire and help other people.”
Emily detailed how their relationship formed and progressed from the time they met on Instagram in 2013 until Colby’s last four days of life. She reached out on social media to ask for prayers in the midst of her pain and uncertainty, and as news spread about Colby, she said she felt fully supported by everyone in the hockey community.
Colby appeared in 67 games over four NHL seasons and played with the Boston Bruins in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. It was there that he met his friend, mentor and fellow follower of Christ, David Backes.
“David Backes and his wife, Kelly, set up daily Zoom prayer groups with other athletes during those four days, praying for a miracle,” Emily wrote. “We haven’t been able to hold a funeral for Colby yet, but I’ve already asked David to speak at it because he was an incredible mentor to Colby. I know Colby admired him so much.”
The Oilers franchise contacted Emily shortly after Colby’s death to express their interest in starting a fund in his honor. Emily quickly agreed.
“The Colby Cave Memorial Fund supports community programs involving mental health and will help underprivileged children with access to sports,” Emily said.
Even as she deals with despair, Emily hopes in God, believing that Colby lives on in Heaven and in the lives soon to be touched by his memorial fund.
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My Dad recently shared with me one of the things that Colb said was a reason he wanted to marry me. Until a few days ago, anytime I asked either of them what was said that afternoon, they would just say it was a special conversation between the two of them. My Dad said one of the reasons that Colb wanted to marry me, was because my faith. He was attracted to it. He loved that I went to church, loved God, & said it was different than what he had ever known. I have yet been able to watch a Hillsong service since Colb died. The first picture is of Colb at his last Hillsong service in person (August 2019), the next two were from the day before he got sick. I remember that Sunday, the service was about “pressure”. We had no idea the amount of pressure that was going on in Colb’s brain or that he would be Heaven by the next Sunday. It was just a typical Sunday for us. The following day, the night he got sick, he did an Instagram live with one of our Hillsong friends. I remember trying to listen to Hillsong the four days, Colb was sick. It was gut wrenching. I had not only our whole Hillsong crew but people praying for a miracle all around the world. At the same time, I knew in my heart that Colb was going to be in Heaven very soon. I texted a friend, saying I felt like a hypocrite asking people to pray but I couldn’t. The past few weeks, I’ve heard multiple stories about Colb & how people admired his faith over the years. I can’t help but think back on the day he asked my Dad to marry me. “Attracted to my faith” A faith that is completely broken right now, but one that I know deep down will have me seeing Colb in Heaven. Colb, you said it right in your vows, “I can’t wait to spend eternity with you.” I continue to count down the days but until then I’m going to start listening to Hillsong again for you. I’m going to share your testimony & mine. I’m going to jam out like we used to in the car, the kitchen, church, & play the air drums to your favourite worship songs. I’m going to slowly regain the faith that made you want to marry me because you choosing me to be your wife, will always be the biggest honour & title I will hold. ✨ Psalm 34:18
“The past few weeks,” Emily wrote recently on Instagram, “I’ve heard multiple stories about Colb & how people admired his faith over the years.”
She then concluded the post by citing Psalm 34:18.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” — Psalm 34:18
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