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Daniel in pictures

I will almost never talk about dreams while blogging. This is a very minor exception. I dreamed last night about Daniel, about missing something important, and he asked for help with something. I woke up thinking about the various ways I could help get over the hurdle. I had a hard time getting back to sleep, and then I realized what I hadn’t in the dream: he’s dead. I forgot. For about ten minutes I lay in bed trying to think of ways to help him with something and I forgot that I can’t, that he’s dead.

The family put together pictures of Daniel. My sister scanned them and sent out a CD. I’m going to use a few of them as something of an illustration of who he was and why he was so dearly loved by so many.

This is going to be a bit scattered – please bear with me.

Daniel was incredibly cute as a baby and toddler. I know all little kids are cute, and I’m admittedly rather biased, but I think he was adorable.

He really loved dogs and enjoyed training them. He apparently picked that up from being around the rest of us. It certainly wasn’t formal training, but all of the dogs we grew up with were often in obedience classes at one level or another.

He loved to perform for us. He danced, sang, played on instruments, and made people smile.

He loved the musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Our mom made him costumes for Mr. Mistoffelees and Skimbleshanks, and he was extremely proud of them and loved them. He knew every part that each cat played in the performance. When he got to go see a performance, he talked about it for a long time, even on the phone. He wasn’t much for talking on the phone, but for that, he’d make an exception and tell me all about it. He would sit down and watch Cats anytime anyone wanted to, and he had the music memorized.

I think the happiest I remember him was the day he graduated high school.

He enjoyed cooking. He didn’t like talking to people he didn’t know, but he was funny and wonderful once he let you in. He was sometimes a pain, as little brothers are. He was more important to me than I know how to express. He had a wonderful smile. He loved baseball and basketball. He liked to eat, too. Here are a few of my favorite pictures of him:

I miss him more than I know how to handle. He was an integral part of our family. He was deeply loved. He was a complicated, interesting, funny, smart, amazing person, and he is and will always be sorely missed. The pictures only capture pieces of who he was, and I wish I had the words to show you more.

Daniel’s pictures

After Daniel died, everyone sent pictures of him to my sister, who was kind enough to scan them and put them on a CD. We got the CD last week.

It’s hard looking at pictures of him so full of life, knowing that I will never see him again. He was very much the center of the family. We all loved him very much, worked hard with him, helped him as much as he’d let us, and his loss is huge. Every time I look at the pictures, I cry.

On the other hand, it is very good to have pictures of him. I was afraid that I would forget what he looked like in the hardest days after his death, and that would have added another layer of pain to the sorrow. I love having pictures showing him at various stages in life and remembering what he was like at each. I missed much of his adult life, since I made choices to not follow the rest of the family to Arizona, but I called and sent postcards and we visited whenever we could. He was still part of my life and I knew I could still make him laugh.

We’re going to take the pictures we like best and put them in a frame with space for a lot of pictures. We don’t have very many photos in our house, at least not up on the walls, but this is important to both of us. Remembering him, however hard it can be, is grounding. He was my little brother. In many ways, he is the reason I am the person I have become. I am a better person than I would have been without him. I need to remember all of who he was, everything I knew, and remember how much he meant to me.

The hurt will fade eventually, but the joy and strength and other good things about him are too important to let go. Living with the pain of looking at pictures is worth the memory of the amazing person he was.