Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Dan

Today it is April 10th. For most people just another day, this year April 10th is Good Friday. For my family it is a day that I believe keeps us all remembering and mildly sad. April 10th was my brother Dan's birthday. For many years after he died we sent cards to each other on this day. Eventually we stopped, because it seemed less to do with grieving and more to do with habit. But this day always is one I know is coming and like to see going. This week I have been remembering allot about those days growing up. Recently several of our friends with kids with disabilities have had to spend time in the hospital. Hospitals always make me think of Dan and my family.

We did spend allot of time at Children's Hospital in Chicago. On one hand it seemed to be the most hellish place on earth to me. Kids sick, dying. Parents hurting and crying. Brothers and sisters trying to make sense of the fear, hurt, worry, stress, love, tears and hugs. But on the other hand I know that was where I learned to know God. I remember always having to walk through the ER after hours to get into the hospital. Walking amongst those families with kids crying, I remember finding a quiet corner and wanting to be so angry that so many people where so sad and hurting. I remember the baby boy in the intensive care room next to Dan's that no one came to visit. I remember the morning after that baby boy died, crying in the waiting room bathroom because it seemed so unfair that no one was there to love him. I remember my mom so fatigued and sick after so many sleepless nights on the intensive care chair/bed at Dans side that she stumbled when she walked. I remember being so scared as I shut the door on her bedroom that night after I looked in on her when she came home. I remember standing in the hall outside Dans room as we left to go home for the night with Dad, and hugging my mom and feeling her sobs of sadness that Dan was so sick. I remember sobbing  in my bed that night as I wondered if Dan would die, or if my mom would die because she seemed to hurt so bad.

But I also remember spending time in Dan's hospital room watching movies, talking, just hanging out with our family. Sometimes we would get Chicago pizza, or snacks. Sometimes we would goof off and try to scare the nurses. Those where moments most families don't understand, in the middle of the crisis, the middle of the battle, in the middle of suffering and heartache there was peace,love and always time for our family. It was secure, loving, never rushed and no one had anything better to do. Those moments when life in the outside world stopped abruptly and all that mattered was each other. 

This may sound stupid, but Oh how I wish to be sitting in that intensive care room now. With beeps, and buttons, equipment, doctors and nurses in and out, Dan in his iron lung right in the middle of it all and our family gathered round, watching the Cubs game and eating pizza. Those days in the hospital have shaped my life, my belief. It was where I first sensed the God I was learning about in Sunday School and Children's Church. In the calm of the storm, the peace in the intensive care room... I knew God was there with us. It made sense to me then. So now As I try to search out that peace and calm that only God can bring, I find it in Camp, in the hectic pace, extreme heat, suffering people, the long days, short nights, worry, the tears, the loving embraces. 

So how can it be the place I hate the most is place I love the most? It makes sense only if I know the first will be last, the poor will be rich, that I must die to have life. God's ways are not our ways, why is that so hard to embrace?


  1. A short life, long remembered. What an influence and legacy Dan left during his short time here! Along with mom and dad and others, I know he is part of that great cloud of witnesses and I can assure you, Tony, that Dan is so incredibly proud of his brother and of the man of God you have become. And so am I. I love you.

  2. I miss Dan too. I agree with my dad that he would be so proud of you. I love you Tony!

  3. I never liked to have Dan's birthday come after he died either. A day that used to be happy was just sad now. Then, a couple of years ago, I heard that April 10th is also National Siblings Day. For some reason that made the date seem better, like a celebration again instead of a loss. It helps me to look at the gift we had in Dan's life instead of the sorrow of his death. April 10th, 1972 turned us into who we are today. I like the people we have become! Happy Birthday Danny!

  4. What a gift God has given to you, Tony, to be able to express your heart. I hope you don't mind but I used your blog as an entry for April 15. I connected it but I also reprinted it. I was afraid that people may not click over to it. You and your family are a blessing.

  5. I have to admit that I do not always remember Danny's birthday on the 10th, but I did this year, because it was also Good Friday. That is really cool that it is also National Sibs Day. What a great memorial/celebration for you and Lora. It's weird to me how I grew up so close to your family, but did not truly understand everything you all went through. I knew you went to Children's a lot, but I had no idea what those experiences were like for you. I have memories of playing "church" when I lead the worship and Danny preached. I guess my fond memories are a testament to how well your family dealt with the trials. Thanks for sharing your heart and your experiences. I love you!