I don't have many words today. I am extremely sad that the world lost a great person a year ago today. He fought cancer as hard as anyone could. And he fought for people with cancer more than anyone I've met. It was truly an honor to be in his life, and to be able to call his friends my friends, and his family my family.
A year ago, people told me that time would heal all wounds. There have been moments when I wanted time to move quickly to get away from the pain, and sometimes when I wanted it to stand still so that I wouldn't be so far from having him physically here. We will all continue to move forward with our lives, but no amount of time will remove his memory or the impression he left on each of us.
I miss him. But I do not miss him sick with cancer. Our relationship was complete. We met, fell in love... we had our ups and downs, but when he needed me, there was no question in my mind I would stand by him and help him. One of the blessings of time passing is that I don't remember all the intricacies of his final weeks, and his decline. I really only remember that sweet smile and gentle soul.
I see him. I see him in his friends and family, and the incredible support they've given me. I see him now as spring is arriving and the sun is shining longer. I see pictures of myself now, and I see him in my smile. I see him in the lives that he has touched... in the countless people who remember him daily, and those who are affected by merely hearing his story.
I am sorry he is no longer here. But I won't live my life feeling sorry for my loss. I know how much I was loved- a true and precious gift. But I know Dan wants, rather- expects- me to move forward and live a great life. He told me as much. I know that he would have done anything to stay with us, but that he was very happy despite living every day with a disease that he knew would eventually take his life at some point.
To die at 26 (almost 27)... and to know you had no regrets. You fought hard. You were an exceptional person. You told people how you felt about them. You had something to believe in, and put others in front of yourself. You enjoyed your life, and lived with acceptance of your situation. You made no excuses. You did big things, but more importantly made people believe that big things were possible. You defined the words "hope", "optimism" and "love" for many people. And you did it all while being the most normal person on earth.... I want my life to end up like that.
When I asked Dan if he wanted to write a final blog, he said no. To be honest, I was surprised. But, as only Dan would do, he sat there quietly for a few minutes. Then he looked up at me and said "I've said everything I needed to say. It's not my fault if people weren't listening."
I hope people will go back and read his blog posts. So many people DID listen to him. We may forget sometimes, but we were listening. And the things he stood for are things we can share.
I didn't know how I would feel when this day rolled around. I feel some relief- I made it a full 365 days. And I am still standing. I haven't done things perfectly, but I SURVIVED.
I feel blessed to have made so many new friends over the past year- many of whom were introduced to me by Dan but that I never really knew.
I feel loved by a lot of people. Too many people, really- it's almost embarrassing.
I feel motivated to carry on Dan's work. I feel responsible to those that don't have what we did, and I understand that we were fortunate in many ways.
I feel sad for Dan and all that knew him. I feel sad his nieces and nephews will not get to know him.
And I am thankful. Thankful for the life we lived, and the life he left me.
Dan- you are missed every day. We all love you so much and hope that we are making you proud.