NATHAN Brown was a keen fisherman and a talented graffiti artist who found inspiration in what he saw and what he heard, but mostly, what he felt.
He had a heart full of hope and a head full of plans for the future.
But on Monday, his dirt bike helmet and a framed picture of him holding a prized catch sat upon his spray-painted coffin, tagged with messages of love and remembrance from devastated family and friends.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at Lake Macquarie Memorial Park at Ryhope on Monday morning to remember the life of “Natto,” also known as “little Nath,” the kind and caring 19-year-old Glendale man who tragically died of complications from influenza.
Guests were still in shock that the strong, fit and healthy young man with a promising future lost his life after becoming unwell with the flu.
Mr Brown, who worked as a builder’s labourer, was put into a medically-induced coma about six weeks ago after complications from influenza A left him battling acute pneumonia, a staph infection, collapsed lungs, kidney failure, and fluid on his heart.
But he lost his fight in the early hours of September 29.
During Monday’s service, Mr Brown’s girlfriend, Haylee Penfold, said his eyes would “light up” when he spoke about the things that were really important to him.
“His eyes would shimmer golden when we’d talk about our future together,” she said.
“A future full of travelling and exploring the world together… A future involving a wedding, owning a home with two dogs, and eventually, plans to make Nathan a father.
“Although it breaks me that we’ll never be able to pursue those plans together, I am grateful for the time that I had with him.”
Mr Brown’s family used the funeral service to thank the staff at John Hunter Hospital’s intensive care unit, who had done everything they possibly could to help.
The family said they had been comforted and humbled by the community support and fundraising initiatives, organised by people who had known and loved their son.
Newcastle’s graffiti and hip hop community came together on Sunday to celebrate Mr Brown’s life by painting a large tribute on a wall at Lake Macquarie PCYC using his tag, “Klea”.