“…We brought out the worst in each other…”
This is going to be a selfish post. I didn’t talk much about Dan’s illness publicly because it was his trauma, his pain, and his struggle. I didn’t want to insult him or make him sad while he was sick. I was also afraid to talk about him dying because I didn’t want it to seem like we lost hope. I decided to tread lightly for the last two years, something that probably drove us both crazy. But now that he’s been gone for several weeks, I feel like I can talk (or at least write) about his death. And his dying. I hope I do it in a way that he would have approved of, with as much honesty as I can muster. I know I’m not special or saying anything profound, but it helps to write about my experience and if anybody has anything to share, please do. Maybe somebody out there in the internet is looking for somebody like me, as I did 2 years ago when Dan was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, well HERE I AM.
On to the point… So, I’m not entirely sure what I said at Dan’s wake. Something about Hall & Oates, throwing up in my moms car, nagging him about student loans, and oh yeah, that part about us bringing out the worst in each other. Those of you who know me, know that verbal communication isn’t my strong point. And embarrassingly, I had been thinking about what I would say at Dan’s funeral for many many months, in the shower, as I sobbed quietly because the shower was really the only place I could be alone for more than 3 minutes. That was the time when I would try to wrap my head around what was happening and imagine what my life would be like without Dan. I had so many amazing things I wanted to say about him at the wake, but my brain couldn’t conjure the words.
Dan and I brought out the worst in each other, but we also brought out the best. When we weren’t arguing like irrational children, we were laughing hysterically, talking about everything under the sun, and learning from each other. We were on the same wavelength during those times, and I know there will never be anybody in this world who gets me like he did. We were the “weird ones” together. And we loved it.
I think a lot about what our lives would have been like if he hadn’t gotten sick. When he told me he was going to be a father, I was terrified on one hand, on the other I was selfishly excited because I thought it would bring us back together again. We had spent most of our 20’s taking each other for granted. We hung out and partied together occasionally and had a phone conversation every month or two, but mostly we were living very separate lives and would spend the most amount of time with each other on Christmas morning at my parent’s house. But his baby girl, Eliza, was going to change all that! We were going to go on ski vacations together and spend holidays together and our kids were going to grow up as close as siblings. I had high hopes for the future.
But as you all know, the future came in a very different form. Dan’s journey took a sharp and abrupt departure. I’m sure many of you cried in the shower as I did. I think I’m still in shock. Almost 3 months have gone by and that is about the longest I went without hearing from Dan for 31 years. I keep waiting for him to text me back, to call and say this was a big joke. I keep thinking the future will come the way I imagined it. And I wish so strongly that I never took him for granted.
I have a lot more to say that I’ve bottled up inside for a long time. I will get it all out eventually, but for now, thanks for reading and I’ll leave you with a little gem from Dan:
No better time than now.
No better coat tails than theirs.
Who knows when the time will strike. I seem to have been trying to catch my time since birth. Naturally, years passed before speech and independent action aligned. Unnaturally, prolonged by indolence incubated by a nation that works on artification of self will. So here we sit… you and I, perched on a limb of time, growing void and diligently fulfilled. Simultaneously waiting for the story to depart the station. Away we go.