3 January 2015

Dear Renée,

Dear Renée,

I attended your husband Dan's, celebration of life yesterday. As I walked into the auditorium, immediately, the beautiful picture of Dan caught my eye. You are instantly drawn to his smile and really awesome hair. It was an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for all of his friends and family. I knew from the moment I walked through the doors, we would be celebrating a man who has impacted the lives of so many. A man who made a difference in this world.

We sat near the front, I looked around and could feel all of the love, respect and admiration in the room. Dan had a lot of friends, whether they were family, business or drinking buddies. He was loved.
You asked Dan's voice coach to share songs that meant something to Dan and his family. They were all beautiful. I laughed. I cried. I knew that each song had a special place in all of your hearts. Hearing Dan's voice, that is something that you get to share with Audrey for a lifetime, she gets to continue to sing with her daddy night after night.

As I sat and listened to all of the speeches that were given by friends and family, I realized that Dan was somebody who people looked up to. He was the organizer. He was the person who kept up his friendships. He valued the importance of being a loyal friend, a loyal husband and a loyal son and brother. He lived his life to the fullest and made sure to include those who were most important to him.
The love that he had for his young daughter is a love that you know is unbreakable. I'm pretty sure that Audrey was Dan's hero. Dan was 40 and Audrey is 5. The bond and connection that they shared, is one that no other will be able to match. He will continue to take care of Audrey, he will watch over her and protect her. He will always be her daddy.

I have only ever met Dan a couple of times. It's unfortunate that I wasn't able to get to know this amazing man. Yesterday, while listening to others share their stories, I realized that I have missed out. He was a mentor, a best friend, a go-getter, a thoughtful and kind-hearted man. He was generous, stubborn, a perfectionist, a business man, a son, a reliable and trustworthy friend. The qualities that Dan possessed, were qualities that most of us work on all of our lives, but don't always acquire. He was one of a kind.

My words to you my friend.

Your journey ahead will be difficult. You lost your partner, your lover, your best friend. You are left with raising your beautiful daughter, but this will be what allows you to heal. Audrey will keep you grounded. Audrey will still want to play, dance and go places. She will force you to be present. This is the time where people return to their lives, while you sit and try to find the reason, why cancer took your husband's life. I don't always understand why God calls some home earlier then others. Always remember that Dan will be with you forever, in your heart, in your dreams. He will watch over you and your family.
You will heal. You will find the strength to move on but you will hold all of the memories and cherished moments close to your heart.
Talk about Dan, share stories with others. Keep his memory alive. Let your friends and family support you. Lean on others. Cry when you need to cry. Get mad when you feel anger. For most, what you are experiencing, is not our reality. We don't know what it is like to lose a spouse at a very young age. It's sometimes tough coming up with the right words to comfort you, but remember that you have an extensive support system that surrounds you and will always be there for you. You will find strength within yourself that you didn't know existed. You will find courage within yourself that you didn't know existed. You provided your husband with a loving and caring home, filled with laughs, support and family values. Dan is proud of you Renée. 

"...the most important thing is, even if we're apart....
I'll always be with you." - A.A. Milne


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