Last Tuesday, I felt a real drive to go and see Dan. To stand with him and to remember. I put a single rose in my car, thinking to myself how ridiculous I was. A rose is definitely not a gift I would ever have brought him, nor would it have been appreciated in any small measure.
As I drove to the graveyard the weather was glorious. A rare mix of sunshine and blue sky. I began to remember this time last year and how hopeful we were.
We are a modern country, with excellent health facilities. Childhood leukemia is so curable. He lived in a lovely house with a family who would ensure the height of cleanliness. He was a fighter. He would not die.
Yet here I was on my way to his grave.
As I drove the reality hit once more, that he had not made it. I shook my head trying to really grasp how a strong, lively, young boy who was rarely sick, could get leukemia.
However as I drove I began to remember the young boy he became.
I remembered his pain, his frequent admissions to hospital. His handsome bald head, and the many hours he lay on the couch instead or running around. I remembered his battle and all the battle wounds it incurred on his young body. And as I remembered, awful as it may sound, I did not wish for him to come back. Not as he was, not as a young boy who would have had such a different life to the one he had loved.
On entering the graveyard, I remembered his funeral. Yes there was a huge crowd, but it was the large number of young boys and girls I really remember. Especially the boys from his team. All only 12 or 13 years old. Some already becoming young men, others looking younger. Each carried a single rose. It made me smile to see these boys with their roses for their friend.
I didn’t find Dan at the grave. But later as I passed the soccer field I definitely heard him shouting, and as I passed the school I saw him running. I have no doubt that he was also running wild around his back garden at home, and in the middle of all the fun at his cousins house.
We may go to the grave to remember Dan, but if we want to find him we need to look a lot closer to home.