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Archive for the ‘Heartwarming Crap’ Category

The Real Truth

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

WARNING: This is not a humor column. But it was a story I wanted to share with you. I hope this posting finds you well, happy and loved.


I’m emotionally wasted. My eyes are stinging and dry from crying. My heart is heavy. But I feel a sense of joy and gratitude I haven’t felt in a long time.

My friend Dany died last Wednesday at fifty-four years old. He lost a seven-year battle with leukemia. They gave him six months, he lasted six and a half years beyond that. Today, at his service, I saw why.

There was more love in that tiny old building that I’ve seen anywhere, ever. The people who spoke, what they said, the service wasn’t somber, it was a celebration of someone very special. While we all cried throughout, it was clear we were celebrating Dany. What he gave to his family and the world around him. His father spoke, his mother spoke, his best friend led the ceremony; another good friend played a song he’d written for him. His wife spoke. His son, Bronson, spoke.

It was after his son spoke that I saw the true heart of Dany Walker. He raised his son to be a man. And today, I saw a boy I’ve known since he was five step into the shoes of an adult. Today, Bronson became a man at twenty.

Quiet, self-confident, Bronson spoke of how recently his father told him that he was ready to face life without him. That he’d brought him up and he’d made sure he’d be okay. He told his son he was ready to stand on his own. That his job was done.

Dany was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago. He fought with every fiber of his being to stay for six and a half more years. He wasn’t done. Bronson was still a boy, his wife Peggy, needed him. Dany had more to do. So he endured more pain, more procedures and more time in the hospital than is nearly humanly possible. And he did it all for his son and for his Peggy, the love of his life.

Dany and Peggy shared an extraordinary bond. It is rare to witness a love such as these two shared. Rare. They gazed at each other as if they shared a secret; a joyous, passionate secret. They gave off love like a blast furnace gives off heat. Not only do I grieve the loss of this wonderful man, I grieve for the loss of that connection. A connection so rare and so powerful, most people don’t get the privilege to experience it. But Dany and Peggy were blessed.

They ended their time together much in the same way they started it. Holding each other, loving each other. It was just the two of them, alone in their bedroom. He was weak, his sturdy frame reduced to a mere eighty-five pounds. Peggy held him. He said, “I feel a string, it’s pulling on me, pulling on me.” She said, “No reason to stay honey, you go on.” A minute or so later, he died, right there in her arms. Peggy was so grateful to be there. So grateful to hold him to the end. So grateful she’d been able to have seven more years with him. So grateful for every moment she got to spend with him.

Funerals are for the living. They are a place to mourn, a place to celebrate, a place to reflect on our own lives. The service today slapped me in the face. I’ve been brooding lately; dealing with some childhood issues in therapy; my husband has been out of work for some time, our savings are dwindling; we’re scared. But what I saw today reminded me that all my fears are meaningless. What I realized today is that none of the things I’ve been worried about mean anything. What I realized today is that I have what Peggy and Dany shared. My connection to my husband is amazing. He truly is a dream. He’s strong and capable and funny and witty and charming and he loves me like no one else ever has. No one looks at me the way he does. No one but him.

And today, I got to go home with my husband to our home. Peggy went home to an empty bed; a closet full of Dany’s clothes; drawers still full of his things. A home full of memories, a home they built together. While the son is down the hall tonight, the other rooms are filled with relatives from out of town, shortly, everyone will return to their lives, leaving Peggy to pick up the pieces of hers. She’ll return home after work and Dany will not be there. On her birthday, he won’t be there to cook her a fantastic meal, tell her how much he loves her. She will live out her life without Dany by her side. While I believe eventually she’ll find companionship, the new man will not be Dany.

But I still have my Frank. Frank will be there when I wake up and when I go to bed at night. He’ll be eating all my chocolate, making faces at me on the other side of the glass when I’m cleaning the windows. He’ll be there to hold me when I get a rejection letter from a publisher. He will be there.

And I am so very grateful. So incredibly grateful. All my problems lessened today. Today I realized that I have no problems.

It’s a perspective I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to go back to taking things for granted. I want to realize how special today is. I want to feel grateful when I take my daily walk with Frank by my side. I want to feel grateful even when he pisses me off and I feel like clobbering him over the head with something. I want to realize how special and wonderful every day is with him. How lucky I am.

And I want to thank Dany Walker for waking me up to the Real Truth: there is only one real thing in our world. It is our connection to others. Period. All the rest is bulls**t.

My love and prayers go out to Dany’s widow and his son, step-daughter and son-in-law; his parents and family and friends; to everyone who was blessed enough to have the man touch their lives. And I want to thank Dany for being such a great friend to me; such a great father to my friend Bronson; such a great husband to my friend Peggy and such a great person in general.

If only all of us could have such a legacy.

©2008, Janet Periat

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