This won’t be a story about a guy who climbed Everest twice, frontwards and backwards. Dan’s story is not a story of the man who finished his 80th novel or painted work that sits in the Louvre. This story will not be about a guy who ran into a burning building and saved 94 kittens, 58 puppies, and countless beta fish. But it’s a story worth sharing because most times they go unheard. I struggled to write this as I try to be quite private when it comes to my life. But after much thought, I had to share.
Dan was the second of four boys raised by a single mother in Philadelphia. Dan loved fishing and would constantly skip school to head to the river and cast his line in. Without having a male figure in his life to guide him, Dan struggled with many aspects of life. School was not an escape for him as he struggled with grades from a very early age. As he got older, the demons only multiplied for him and he began to run into many troubles. Friends were a terrible influence on him and peer pressure often got the best of him. As Dan entered adulthood, he found himself living off the streets as his three brothers went to college and moved away. It was during this time when he was at his lowest and that Dan decided he had to change. Dan ended up making some subtle changes in his life that began to alter his future. Almost like a giant cruise ship that steers ever so slightly but the end location is altered drastically. Dan had two kids in his mid-thirties and loved them very much. Everyone around him saw that Dan was making good strides. However, Dan once again ran into troubles a few years later. He tried to outrun his past but it caught up to him no matter how fast he ran.
Dan passed away on Thursday of this week. Some may see his life as a constant struggle and a guy that did not really accomplish much. But to me, he actually altered this world in many ways. You see, Dan was and is my brother. He shielded me from all the bad in the world. While he was out in the world doing all kinds of things, I was at home watching and realizing that I did not want to be mixed up with any of it. I sat there and thanked him every day for showing me why I needed to do better. I wish Dan could hear my words of gratitude, I wish I could go back a few days ago and let him know as he took his last breaths. However, I did not follow through and Dan departed without me ever saying Thank You.
Twenty-Four hours later, I realize that Dan actually was teaching me one more final lesson. Do not have regrets. Take every moment you have and make the best of it. Let the people around you know that you care and that you love them. Dan was only here for 45 years, but his impact on me will live on. His lessons on life are profound and real and I can say, without a doubt, he has changed my life.
Dan, Rest in Power, love you, miss you, and thank you.