Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Tribute to Daniel

6/30/1990 - 1/7/2015

This year has been a painful one.  When I wake up in the morning or in the middle of the night, my thoughts echo like the clanging of a hollow pipe or a church bell ringing in an empty village.  Dan.  Dan.  Dan. Dan.  Dan.  Dan.  I’m dedicating this post to my 24-year-old son.

When Dan and his twin sister, Melanie, came into our lives, we were joyous.  Having them to love was a gift.  We felt lucky—really lucky.   Our luck turned to worry when he was six months old and he needed surgery.  He spent a month in the hospital.  We nearly lost him then.
I can see Daniel waving goodbye.

When he finally came home, he smiled easily and often.  He was the kid that couldn’t contain his excitement.  When the room was silent at a library presentation, he shouted, “OWL, OWL!”  He picked out a rabbit puppet for his sister’s 3rd birthday.  Before Melanie received the gift, he hinted about it.  It’s white…..and soft….. and fluffy……and it’s a BUNNY! 

Dan was always cheery and chatty, lively and loving.  He was a tester with a great sense of humor.  When I told him to get his foot off the table, he’d watch my face intently.  Then he'd place one toe right back on the table.  Once, when my sister took the twins to a Rockcats game, a little girl asked Dan what his name was.  He replied, “Hotdog.”

In high school he needed major surgery, which was most likely a consequence of the surgery he had endured as an infant.  Dan forged onward, without looking back.  He never complained.  He never dwelled on the past.  He never used it as an excuse.  He was good-natured and kindhearted.  At home he seldom swore or got angry and he was always willing to help a friend.  Before he left for work, he'd tuck the dog beneath the covers of his bed. 

When we got word that Dan was in the hospital, we never lost hope because Dan was a survivor.  Most of the time we were there, the sky was gray and the air, bitter cold.  One evening, I watched the sun set from the empty room next door.  It was a silent reminder of the passing of another day.  It was one of those simple things that we’d brushed aside to be by his bed, day and night.  Over and over again, I said, “we’re not giving up on you.  We’ll be by your side to help you get through this.”

In his final hours at the hospital, sunshine streamed beneath a partially-closed shade.    The only light in the room shone on his face.  The heavens were calling.  With great sadness, we said goodbye to a life of promise, a heart of kindness, a gift to treasure.  Dan was the flower, late to bloom, the angel that slipped away too soon.

When you’ve lost something so precious, it can’t be replaced.  The best you can do is to make as much good out of it as you can.  During surgery, Dan received bone from the bone bank.  When he passed on, he gave it back.
Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane (In Alaska, the pilot took his hands off the wheel).

From Daniel, we learned to take what life hands us and to move on with grace and resiliency.   In one sense, we feel cheated.  In another we feel lucky—lucky that we got to know him, lucky that we got to see him blossom into the beautiful person that he was.  We are honored to be his parents and proud of all his accomplishments.  We will cherish our memories of a wonderful son and brother.  Dan, you will live on forever in our hearts.


  1. A beautiful tribute.
    So sorry for your great loss.
    Susan Manzke

  2. I am sorry for your loss. My sister just lost her son in October. The loss of a child is devastating.

    This blog post is written beautifully. A lovely tribute. It made me laugh and smile and cry all at the same time. The part about hinting about the bunny is precious.

    I wish you peace in the coming days/months/years as you remember him.

  3. Thank you Susan and Linda. I'm so sorry about your sister. I know you feel her pain because my siblings were quite upset. It has been a heartbreaking year, but the sun will shine again.

  4. Beautiful......heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

  5. Thanks,Anonymous Sharon. It has been one heck of a year. Deep and painful sigh.