Monday, March 23, 2009

Rememberances II

Life is definitely quiet. I suppose it will feel that way for awhile. I don't really feel up to writing much more yet- maybe by the end of the week.

Below is James' speech. James is Dan's brother-in-law, and to say that Dan looked up to him and admired him is an understatement.

My name is James Urban – I am Patrice’s husband
You’ll have to bear with me on this a little bit…the speech I had been planning on doing was supposed to be a best man’s toast, but…
I am honored and humbled that Dan wanted me to speak at his funeral
I am not going to try to be eloquent or profound
I am going to try to be real and speak from my heart
In thinking about what I wanted to say today, I couldn’t help but think that Danny would want us to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death
That’s what I am going to try to do

I have always thought of Danny as my brother – how could I not?
Danny was 8 years old when Patrice and I started dating
I remember rushing downstairs when Patrice and I got back to the house after dates because I wanted to go wrestle with Dan or watch whatever game was on – at the time I’m sure Patrice didn’t think that was very romantic, but I know she knew one thing…I sure liked her little brother
I remember one time when I was off at college playing football…Danny was 11 or 12 and he rode alone with my parents to a game – now, they are my parents and I love them, but I don’t think I would want to sit in a car alone with them for 5 hours when I was that age – it didn’t bother Danny…he wanted to see me play
Dan and I always had a special connection…
We were the same height
We had the same hairline
We both went to small colleges and had great experiences playing the sport we loved
We both got into coaching as a way to get a Master’s Degree and continue being around that sport
The connection with him was so strong that our first born child is named after her Godfather – her name is Brielle Dannie

He was just one of those people that it’s easy to be attracted to and who you wanted to be around…as you might expect with Dan, it’s all the great little subtle things that I remember fondly and will miss the most…like…
Ketchup…have you every seen anyone use more ketchup than Dan? I mean he used to put it on his turkey at Thanksgiving
Dogs…man he loved dogs…I think he related to them on a different level than any of us
Gifts…whenever you gave Dan a present you always knew if he liked it or not because he’d just tell you
Andy Van Slyke…his favorite baseball player of all time…Danny liked him for all the right reasons
Golf…he was a purist…I never once saw him cheat on a golf course
Phil Mickelson…his favorite golfer of all time…by the way, in case you missed it, Phil won in dramatic fashion on the final hole just hours before Danny passed away
Silence…he was one of those people who had the unbelievable ability to sit and say absolutely nothing

Danny was at a very exciting time in his life…coaching golf, halfway through graduate school, training for a marathon…but then we got the call…

Danny and I were looking forward to a guy’s weekend of golf, beers, and late night Playstation
Instead, we got emergency heart surgery and intensive care
A few days later we got the terrible news
I can vividly remember sitting in that room in Holy Spirit Hospital and Dr. Leal, a compassionate and caring man, getting down on one knee at Danny’s bedside and saying, “ have cancer…[SILENCE]…it’s ok to be scared…[SILENCE]… I’m scared…[SILENCE]…this is very scaring stuff we’re talking about.”
Danny shed not a tear…he clinched his teeth, looked Dr. Leal right in the eyes and said, “Tell me what I have to do to beat it”
At that exact moment I remember thinking “If he can’t beat it, nobody can”
Recognizing the rarity and severity of what he was up against, Dr. Leal got Danny quickly connected with the loving folks at Johns Hopkins – Dr. Donehower, Keith, his beloved Margaret and all the others who helped along the way
His nearly four year battle was a roller coaster ride…there were ups and downs, twist and turns, fast and slow…all the while Dan stayed the course and kept driving the train straight in his quest to beat back this terrible disease that was eating away at his insides
Somewhere along the line I remember telling him the Pete Rose story which he liked so much…the gist of it is that during Spring Training before the season a reporter asked Pete Rose how many at bats he would need to get the 78 hits to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record…Pete matter of fatly replied 78…the reporter said, “Come on, Pete…you can’t be serious.” Pete replied, “Every time I step into the batter’s box I don’t hope to get a hit, I expect to get a hit.”
Danny didn’t hope to beat his cancer…he expected to beat it
People took his lead and drew from his determination and will and supported him in his fight…family, friends, co-workers, fellow cancer survivors, complete strangers…from the old to the very young…
Shoot, 2 year-old Brielle even got into the act and was coloring pictures to make her Uncle Danny feel better…she brought one particular picture to Patrice and she said, “Mommy, I made Uncle Danny a bootiful picture.” Patrice looked at it and said, “That is beautiful, honey. What is it a picture of?” She said, “It’s a picture of my poopy.” “Why did you draw Uncle Danny a picture of your poopy?” In all her 2-year old logic she explained, “Because it made my belly feel better when it came out, so it will make Uncle Danny feel better, too”…Needless to say, I think Uncle Danny really liked that picture
Despite all the love and support that was around him, I knew that Dan was somewhat guarded with his most intimate thoughts…I always felt like Dan needed someone that he could really open up to and share with…and along came Meg

We got an email from Dan that went something like this…“So dot dot dot I met this girl…and I don’t know what IT is, but she has IT…and I told her everything about my cancer…”
Meghan was his best friend…his soul mate…his confidant…his one and only…his fiancĂ©…but for a piece of paper, and I know in his mind, his wife…at the end, his nurse… at the very end, right by his side…
I think the natural inclination is to tell Meghan that you don’t know how she did it…imagining yourself in that position is unthinkable…you can’t comprehend how you could possibly watch someone you love so dearly dying before your eyes…
In my simple mind it is all very easy to understand…she loved him…she loved him with all her heart and to the core of her being…and despite all the pain, she was not going to let him go it alone…
This may tell you all that you need to know…not too long ago I asked Meg if she was OK with Danny’s wish to have her and her alone by his side at the end…without hesitation she looked me in the eyes and said: “OK with it? I’m honored. There is no other place I’d want to be.”
Meg…we’re honored. We’re honored to have you in the family and we’re so very grateful that you found each other and that you loved him so unconditionally

So where are we left to go? Frankly, 26 is just too damn young. We all loved him and will miss him dearly, but now what?
No matter how you define it, Danny’s legacy is huge
We’ve got the wrist bands…will any of us think that WWW stands for world wide web ever again?
The slogans…my favorite is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”
The acclaim…US News & World Report, USA Today – twice!, LiveStrong, Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Eli Lilly speech
The National Collegiate Cancer Foundation…ask the 10 students with cancer who are currently on scholarship what they think Dan’s impact is
The Blog…has anyone ever read anything so deeply moving and honest?
Though he is no longer with us, clearly he will continue to live on
How blessed we all are to have shared in his glorious life

And so now I say to you
Danny Boy
Soul Mate





Anonymous said...

James - perfect. I met Dan at about the same time just by hanging out with Cindy. I hadn't seen him in the 18 years since but I can tell you that through e-mails, the blog and various articles I felt like I've known him all along. I think you summed it up perfectly
Brian Connellan

Anonymous said...

Great James... your speach made me cry and be happy at the same time because we all get to know what a beautiful person Danny was...thanks for loving him and being with him all these long four years, God bless you and all the families...hugs !Gladys, Ecuador.

Anonymous said...

beautiful speech

Anonymous said...

To me this speech is such a great story about Dan and those who love him, and about how we can remember him.


Anonymous said...

James and Meg- both of your speeches were so moving and you both expressed your feelings so well. Dan was such an amazing person. He will always be remembered.

Heather B.

Anonymous said...

Your remarks were simply beautiful, touching, and so sincere. I heard it and felt it coming deep from within your heart. I will always remember it as a statement of pure love for Dan.

Paula T. (Meghan's cousin)

Trisha Burns said...

James.. Amazing speech! My thoughts are with you and your family! Trish Burns

Anonymous said...

Dear Meg, and James, and Ellen (whose talk I expect to see in print soon) - Thank you. Thank you so very very much for these wonderful speeches at Dan's funeral and a special thanks to Meg for allowing them to be printed here. Thank you for giving these talks with your heart felt sincerety. Thank you to all the blog readers who have commented the past 2 weeks that they have been praying for Dan and Meg and their FAMILIES. These prayers have upheld me and allowed me to go on from one day to the next, despite my bottomless grief. Please continue to keep us in your prayers in the weeks and months ahead. Greatfully, Cicily Waeger, Dan's mom