On paper, theirs might not have been a match. But when my daughter started to date Dan, a man who she’d met at her gym, it was clear she enjoyed being with him. It didn’t matter that he was a little bit older. Nor that academically they weren’t schooled in the same manner. He was very involved in his church. My daughter was raised protestant but doesn’t attend very often in her adulthood. And even their politics were split with one in the blue camp and one in the red.
Against all those odds, though, they fell in love.
Initially, I found myself surprised by her choice. Our family is political. When it comes to my politics, I’ve been known to go overboard with strong ties to my party. Like many Americans who follow politics, I don’t always “get” the other side. Dan was on that side. I grappled with the idea that my daughter could overlook this but also vowed that if she could do it, I would try.
Before Dan and I met, I worried my political frame of reference might interfere with seeing the good my daughter had found in him. But the second he walked into my kitchen and we started talking, it was immediately clear why she enjoyed his company. Our friends and family who met Dan liked him right away, too. We loved having him around the house. It wasn’t long before he became a part of our family. As time passed, we enjoyed spending time with his family, too.
Then a few days ago—in a single, unchangeable moment– we lost him to a motorcycle accident.
My heart is heavy. It hurts and will for a while. Stunned. Now the word has more meaning for me. Things like this shouldn’t happen. Not to someone young. Not to someone who brought my daughter such happiness.
Yet it has…
Losing Dan has made me think about those days before we’d met. Where we both stood with our feet firmly planted in a political camp and I’d wondered if it defined him. Perhaps he’d wondered the same about me….
But these things don’t fully define you. Sure, it’s part of who you are, but it isn’t everything. If we stopped and really talked to people with opposing views (not what the media shoves in our faces), our perspective about those who think differently from us could change.
Maybe we’d see that we all love our country. That we’re all just human beings struggling through life. How all we really want is happiness and good health for our friends and loved ones.
Meeting Dan showed me this was true. In fact, we’re a lot alike. We both had an obsessive passion for Nutella and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Dan loved to cook, like me. At restaurants, we’d place our orders and learn we’d selected the same dish. He loved dogs. Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I do, too. We both loved ice cream, almost ridiculously so. Most important, we both loved my daughter.
Love changes everything.
I end this by sending a message out Dan, who I’m certain is still with us spirit…
For loving my beautiful, smart daughter in the way she’s always deserved.
For being part of our family for a while. It wasn’t long enough, but Bill and I truly enjoyed every second we spent with you.
For being there to help us around the house, always jumping in without being asked.
For the gift of letting us spend time with your sister and brother-in-law. They’re lovely people who were so much fun to hang out with.
I hope you are at peace. Part of me believes you are. You made me have faith again, too. I will find acceptance in our loss by believing God has other plans for you.
And thank you for showing me how love really does change everything.