My son Daniel was a kind, sensitive guy who lived with asthma and life-threatening food allergies. You would never have known as he adapted to whatever challenges he faced. Sometimes I think he learned to adapt too well.
He taught himself how to cook by watching The Food Network. Daniel was at home in the kitchen and enjoyed preparing elaborate meals for everyone.
He made us laugh. His humor often came in the form of dialects and expressions he picked up from watching Saturday Night Live. He was a fixer. Daniel was often the first person on the scene to figure out a solution to your problem.
He loved literature and lyrics that evoked powerful emotions – love and loss, suffering and hope. He listened to The Tragically Hip, Pearl Jam and Bob Marley, among others.
He was a best friend to his sisters. In 2007, Daniel shot a hole in one playing golf with his dad. He despised injustices in the world. His friends have said, “Dan never did anything solely for himself. His intentions were for the common good. He lived this every minute of his life.”
Daniel was the consummate boarder — long board, snowboard and his favorite, wake boarding. He was also fearless on his board and fell hard, possibly suffering a head injury that went undiagnosed.
During his first year at university he began to experience severe headaches. Daniel once called me when he was away at school and said, “I think I have OCD, because I can’t stop washing my hands.” His anxiety was a product of years of being careful about everything he touched or put into his mouth.
He began feeling frustrated at university, most likely from a growing inability to concentrate and manage assignments. As a result relationships began to suffer. The emotional changes he experienced changed his outlook on life. He had difficulty sleeping through the night and he’d lost weight. Daniel’s depression was emotionally and physically painful. He started drinking to deal with the overwhelming sadness. Daniel began to isolate himself – bailing on friends or calling us last minute to say he had to work on a project. Our son felt that he had become a burden to the people who loved him most. His disease left him feeling like he was to blame for everything that was going wrong in his life. Daniel felt the sharp edge of stigma and was unable to share his pain or feel our love.
“Daniel lived life with passion. He had a broad smile and easiness about him. He brought humor into the most banal moments, encouraging us to take the world a little less seriously. I cannot imagine another person with whom we laughed more often or with such abandon. Perhaps, we made each other better just by being in one another's company.”