Taking Dan for Granted

“…We brought out the worst in each other…”

Scan 2This 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.

4 thoughts on “Taking Dan for Granted

  • Damn you for making me cry again lol I sat mostly silent sobbing in the bathroom 2 nights ago… thinking how I never took him to a Phish show and he always asked why I did more with you, talked to you more, invited you out more… and honestly I don’t know. It wasn’t intentional. Maybe because you were a little older and I had already waited 6 years for you to catch up and 2 more seemed like a lifetime… maybe because we were girls and he was a boy. It all seems dumb now and I wish more than ever I could have taken him to his first, and most likely his last, Phish show because we both know how silly he thought my hippie, twirly music was lol I wish I had spent more time with him too. He was so funny and interesting when he wasn’t arguing with us that the sky was green when we knew it was blue- but he just wanted to show people he could convince them of anything haha You guys were, and still are, the “weird” ones… but god I wish I was one of you guys. Never afraid to be different, unique, silly- making cool your own way. I love that about you guys. I know I tease you about your zebra shirts and inability to shimmy properly 😉 But you two had a deep connection that made me a little jealous. I always wished D and I had that. Don’t get me wrong, we are close in our own way- but we won’t be doing the Hammer dance anytime soon hahaha I have been thinking about it for awhile and it’s funny because I always thought it was strange, people wanting to run for fun- but now all I want to do is run. Run for Dan, run from the pain, run to the happier moments, run because its freeing and I kind of get it now. I don’t want Dan’s death to be in vain and so I run, not much, not far- but I do it- to see why he loved it, to feel connected, to be in the woods and yell at the sky “why you assholes (whoever “they” are), why Dan?!” I am not a writer, I do not have a way with words the way you two do, but reading your feelings made me want to respond. To respond to you and tell you what you already know- he loved you so much, and you are so lucky to have had that with him. And it breaks my heart for you, for your parents, for me, for our family- that he is gone. I still feel him all around and think of him everyday. And not everyone is so loved to have touched so many people, to have so many people break over his loss. Dan, wherever you are, I love you, I miss you and I will make sure to annoy your sister as much as I can for you 😉 I love you Alicia, like a sister, and am so thankful for you Purdy people… And Sunday when I return to the Spartan Sprint, it will be once again in Dans memory, with my tank top saying so, that I will try my best to run like a Purdy… because Dan Would Do It, I know he would. Sorry for infringing on your thoughts with my long ramble… All my love xoxo C

  • I wish I had gotten to know Dan a little bit more living so close. We definitely got up to trouble when we were younger. Not sure I can fully disclose LOL – when I heard about this I just couldn’t believe it. I think about you and your family all the time and hope you all are hanging in there!

  • I’m always afraid I will say something or sound just plain stupid!! My deepest regret is that I did not spend more time with all of you… I always felt it would be infringing on the time you had with him and it makes me so angry at myself… When I heard about his passing I laid in bed for two days unable to move… Just sob & sob & sob!!! I felt that there was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted him to know, how proud I was of his beautiful Eliza & Alexandra!!…
    I was was hurt, sad , angry & paralyzed by my own pain… Only imagining the heartfelt pain you were & are all feeling!!
    Not a single day goes by that I do not think of him… Stubborn, hard headed & yet soooo lovable!!
    I’m sorry I wasn’t there more often… It was my fear that you didn’t want me there… I have no deeper regret than that!!
    Thank you for sharing what you did Alicia, Candace….I’m grateful to hear it all and wish I were there…. I’m here NOW!!

  • And Alicia…. When you are ready, when you can, please share more…. It is (for me) the best therapy in the world to hear the things you have to say, to hear how you felt… Thank you for your honesty and candid recollections of it all! ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *