When our young friend Dan died in November it sent a seismic shock through our village. It was the second death of a child within three weeks. Understandably it affected many, with hundreds coming to see him off. I have met some mothers who told me that as they passed the church that day, knowing the sad scene being enacted within, they instinctively reached for their children and held them close.
As the days, weeks and months have passed it is clear to see that for many the impact of his loss continues. While I would expect his parents and family and those adults who knew him to mourn him, I would have imagined that his friends and the children who played soccer, GAA, and basketball with him would have moved on a bit faster and begun to live a life happily without him.
I was wrong.
Shortly after Dan died a bunch of his thirteen year old friends got active on twitter and between them decided to do the Christmas Day swim in his honour. They raised over €6,000. An amazing achievement in itself from such young children, but to my mind so many coming together to show they were thinking of Dan Christmas Day was even more wonderful. All their parents must have been so proud of them.
Then out of the blue a few weeks ago there was a piece in the paper featuring Dan. It told the story of a group of nineteen year old boys who play in a league. They were school friends of Dan’s brother, and had met Dan a few times at his home. They remembered his love of sport and how he played with them when they visited, despite the age difference. These boys had decided to charge a fee for the sixteen teams to enter the league and this fee would be donated to the Leukemia Association in memory of Dan.
Once again we were all amazed at the fact that these boys would even find time to think about Danny, not to mention actively doing something so wonderful to remember him by.
We began to see that many of Dans young friends were not moving on quickly without him, and were in fact still missing him greatly. Their way of dealing with it was to actively “do something”.
Today we had another example of these young people “doing”. A group of his friends from his primary school had moved on to secondary school together. They approached their principle and asked could they do a sponsored walk in his name. Of course he agreed and “The Mercy Hospital” is €5,000 better off as a result.
This wonderful group of fourteen year olds, ( the age Dan would be now) and their 190 classmates, all left the school today at 11.15am. Accompanied by their teachers, the local police and the coastguards who stopped the traffic along the way as necessary, they walked just over five miles with Dan. Each one of the organisers wore a Dicky bow, (as well as a special t shirt, shorts and even some colourful wigs and face paints), in other words they dressed “Dan style”.
Why the dicky bows I hear you ask?
When Dan was being confirmed he was not too impressed he’d have to wear his school uniform. Dan being Dan tried every angle to get around it. Eventually he asked, did they really have to wear their school tie? He was told emphatically “Yes”. When he got home he began to think about it, and he asked his God mother could she make the school tie into a Dicky bow. She could and did. On the day he proudly arrived with the school tie in place, but worn as a dicky bow, although unknown to his teacher he had a back up “normal” tie ready just in case! It was such a typical Danny thing to do that everyone just smiled and he was allowed wear it. Obviously his classmates had not forgotten and so today they wore their own Dicky bows and Dan style.
It was a wonderful sight to see so many young people walk in memory of Danny. So many people have been affected by his leaving, and the ripples have continued to spread far beyond his own family. We speak of grief, but personally I don’t believe we have begun to grieve. How can you grieve when you still forget he has gone? I think for now we are all experiencing loss. His loss from our lives, and the impact of that loss on those we love. In some small measure, today we managed to find him in his friends and the occasion. We saw Dan in their happy faces. We remembered Dan in their running and jostling for position at the front. We heard Dan in their rowdy singing, and we felt Dan walking along enjoying the fun.
But as I saw his beautiful, smiling face looking out from a giant poster photograph held up by his friends I felt his loss all over again.
photo credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via photopin cc
35 thoughts on “The ripple effect.”
What a beautifully spirited homage to your dear friend! I so loved this post….it made me feel sad, yet it made me feel good to feel the love that has “rippled” through your community. But…I have to ask “what is a dicky bow?”
Thank you it was lovely to share the walk today with his own peers but v lonely. A dicky bow is a bow tie.
Thanks…I thought that might be what it is 🙂
My prayers are with you that you will find comfort.
You hit it on the nail..THE LOSS FROM OUR LIVES…
There is so much loss. The way he smiles, the way you know there was something up! The love of the ball.. Be it a soccer, basketball, hurley, and rugby.. The song ,, and the laugh..
His loss from our lives will always be too much xx
I know. I can see it and feel it.
At least you could see today a wonderful memory recalled when they wore the dicky bow that you created.
I am so sorry for all your loss. It is still unbelievable that this happened. It’s just seeping in.
As you know you are rarely far from my thoughts. xxxx
This is amazing.
Thank you. It is a very difficult time and some days such as today are tough, but to see so many young people doing such great work in his name is both fascinating and humbling.
Youth getting good press – great post Tric.
Thanks C.J. Aren’t they incredible?
Dan must be so very proud of his friends for the good they are doing. These young people are our future, and this helps to restore faith in humanity. Great post!
Thank you. That is a point I really hoped I had made. They are indeed our future and it looks as if it’s bright.
Love to all of you. ❤
You are in my heart.
Thank you Laurie. You’re very kind.
Beautiful beautiful children. What blessings they are.
Yes we dont give our youth half enough praise or credit.
Maybe if we did, and always had, we would have less troubles in our beautiful world.
That is beautiful. What I think is sad is that he will never know how he touched people.
Maybe he does, at least it’s nice to imagine he is not too far away. So much has been done in his memory which is lovely for his family as it shows he is not forgotten.
how very beautiful and all clear signs that he is gone in body but not in spirit and never will be forgotten.
Thanks beth. I think so too.
What an incredible group of kids! I think sometimes we forget about the loss that they are feeling! Great tribute;)
Yes it was so poignant to see so many together and know he should be there, and wonder how tall he might have grown and what madness he’d be up to. Yet on the other hand it was humbling to think that these young 14 year olds had gone to the trouble of organising the walk and raised so much money in Dans memory. Youth are fantastic.
Such a poignant, yet uplifting post, Tric. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Thank you. I’m glad it came across that way as even though it was so sad to not have Dan there among his friends it was an amazing tribute by his friends to him.
Tric, you have a wonderful gift of writing. I always read with images in my mind and your beautiful words paint such wonderful pictures. We just had the 1 year anniversary of my nephews passing, my sister lives a long distance from me. I hope that she has a friend as wonderful and caring as you helping her to heal. Thank you for sharing your memories of Dan and his friends.
Thanks Charlene. A year. Your sister will have now passed all four seasons without her son, I hope she’s okay. It is good to be able to be there for my buddy but in reality it is her loss and sadness and it is so very hard for me to even imagine how a mum can get through. Sorry again on the loss of your nephew.
That is wonderful Tric.
Part of me thinks that it is a shame that it can take a death for such things to happen and part of me thinks what a wonderful thing that they did all take those actions both to help others and to remember Dan.
It’s one thing that strikes me about the Irish (much more so than when I lived in the UK although I didn’t have kids then so there may have been more school / community stuff that I wasn’t aware of) is the number of charity events that take place – there’s so many Strictly Ballroom charity events around the country for example
Thanks Lorna. You have a son and I am sure as a result you can appreciate how loving and kind they can be, but that sometimes they get lost among the more dynamic girls. Yet some of them are really missing their “leader” because that is what Dan was. To date they have raised over €10,000. A huge amount of money for such young kids to raise since xmas.
Great post. Great kids.
Thanks. We certainly underestimate our youth with their drive and kindness.
Although I never had the honour of meeting Danny, I was one of the students who participated in the walk for him. I now think of him and his family frequently, having witnessed my yearmates grief. I don’t have any words of comfort, because nothing can bring him back to his family and friends, but I just wanted you to know how he has impacted on my life in such a positive way. I also met his mother a few day after the walk which was absolutely lovely. It is one of the few talks that I believe will stay with me forever.
Thank you Katie so very much for taking the time to contact me. I read your comment the other day and I thought I’d replied, so my apologies for taking so long.
It is so lovely to know that Daniel and the words of his mum have had a positive effect on your life. As I’m sure your friends have told you, he was a boy who enjoyed life to the full. Anywhere there was fun, Daniel was in the thick of it.
Thanks so much once again for making the effort to contact me. I have told his mum of your comment and it meant so much to her.
I hope you go on to get all you could wish for in life Katie, and enjoy the little things along your way.