I have re-read this thread again just now and still shed tears...to all those who posted, sent PM's or even just read through it an thought about it....Thank you! Your compassion, empathy, prayers and support REALLY make a difference! Last weekend at his service and celebration of life, my family was overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of love that was bestowed upon Danny and my family from strangers, friends and family...I count everyone of you as friends.
For those of you that did not read his obituary, look back in this thread, there is a link...we were very open with the circumstances and his struggle, people called us "courageous" for doing so...I appreciate that, but I cannot imagine not doing so...no more sweeping it under the rug, if it helps one person, then his death was not without meaning...sadly I found out the other day that another young man in town died of an overdose on the day of my son's services. So I ask if you know of people going through this, reach out to them and never give up. Again...I can't thank you guys and gals enough for your outpouring of support.
In closing I would like to share my eulogy to my son, it's my honor to share something about him to a small part of the world:
Danny and I shared something very special and complex…it’s not easy to put into words, I was his father, but HE was MY hero…sounds strange to say. He had so many qualities that I admired and often envied, in a lot of ways HE was the person that I wanted to be. Things that were difficult for me came so easy for him, his outgoing, open, unabashed and gregarious nature always amazed me. Danny never really took no for an answer, he was always working an angle to get what he wanted, he was relentless and undeterred. It was often very exhausting being his parent. He was like this from a very young age and for the most part served him well, he was able to get away with quite a few things just using his charms…it didn’t work on everyone, especially his coaches, I think he drove every one of them crazy…I remember once in high school when he jacked up a three from way beyond the arc and I heard coach Dan Spellman yell “NO…NO!!!!”….of course after he swished it, that admonishment changed to “Ok…OK”…I was so very proud of his efforts on the court, he was fearless, courageous and had a cocky sort of confidence, that part of his game might have irritated some, but he used that to his advantage, again working whatever angle he could. One particular skill he worked on was manipulating the referees. As we know, he wasn’t shy, and he never hesitated to initiate a causal conversation with them before and during the game, it cracked me up watching him work that charm on them. Sports in general were Danny’s passion and that is how we spent a lot of time together, whether watching football, basketball or occasionally baseball, Danny would rattle off some obscure fact about a player that I had no idea how he could know. He had a mind like a steel trap when it came to sports….but school? Well, he didn’t really care about that stuff. He was loyal to a fault, whether it was his teammates, friends or siblings. He would step in without hesitation to defend someone, sometimes it would get him in big trouble…but it was worth it to him. He always had someone’s back. An aspect of Danny that some people might not know was his fondness for young children…during his high school years when at AAU basketball tournaments with the Hartford Heat, I’d see him between games entertaining young kids, it didn’t matter if he didn’t have a clue who they were, with his gentle nature and his quick smile he have them laughing and entertained in no time. He was the same way with his friend’s younger siblings. This was one of his many gifts, not many people knew of Danny’s soft side, except those close to him…I’m not sure if or why he guarded that so closely….he would have ended up being a wonderful father.
Danny was a teacher and a coach, but he didn’t know it…he taught me many things…the first being patience! He taught me all his innate qualities…faith, loyalty, persistence, acceptance and compassion. Over the last 6 years, he struggled with his addiction, but he also matured into a man. A man I loved and was proud to call my son. A few years ago, during a long stretch of sobriety, we were having a normal conversation when he said, “Dad, I’m an addict, it’s just what I am”…that shook me to my core since he had been sober for over a year, I wanted to dismiss it, deny it….but I realized he accepted it and that gave him strength. He didn’t want to travel down the road he had chosen, and tried repeatedly to get things right. His family stood next to him in loyalty, we had faith in him, we were patient, persistent, accepting and compassionate. The outpouring of love for Danny over the past week has been astounding to me, a true testament to what he was in his brief time on earth. I hope his death is not in vain, but serve as an inspiration for others not to give up and conquer their demons; or to others who know someone struggling, reach out, be persistent and show compassion and understanding.
Mark, man, that was incredible. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Anything you need at all, just PM me.