Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Novena for Danny

August 22nd will mark the third anniversary of the death of my nephew Danny. He had just turned 22 when he died of a heroin overdose.

Danny was like a son to Rob and me. Rob was very much a father figure to Danny. The day Danny died was the hardest, saddest day of our lives. I remember receiving the news. I remember gasping for air and struggling to breath. But I don't remember much after that, including the drive from Michigan to Missouri to attend the wake and funeral. I couldn't tell you if we left right away and stopped in Indy to spend the night, or if we left the next morning to drive straight through. It's as though God gave me amnesia to protect me from the sadness of the day.

The hardest part was, and continues to be, sharing the news with my children. Danny was like a brother to them as he lived with us during his sophomore year of college, as well as vacationing with us over many summers. One night, weeks after the funeral, I found myself at 2:00 A.M. holding my sleepless, 9-year-old daughter in my lap as she sobbed uncontrollably over the loss of her beloved Danny. I found myself angry with Danny for his overdose, wanting to shake my fist and scream out, "You knew how much she loved you. She was your favorite. How could you do this to her?"

We had no clue that Danny suffered from addiction. This was a young man who attended Mass with us, who joined the March for Life in Washington, DC, who was in the middle of George Weigel's biography of Pope John Paul II when he died. In fact, my last email from Danny, just days before his death, expressed how much he loved the book and loved JP2.

Let this child's death be a lesson to us all. As parents we can never sit on our laurels, we must forever keep vigil. Even the best kids can fall into the deepest pits. We can do everything right and still lose them to the world.

Danny was introduced to heroin by someone who called himself a friend. It only took that one experiment to create an addict.

I'd like to ask you to join me in a novena for Danny's soul. This request comes from Danny's mom, Sue. I'll post a reminder each day beginning in the morning. And please also pray for Sue. A mother's loss is unimaginable.

8 comments:

Esther said...

Oh Maureen: How tragic! My heart goes out to you and your entire family. I will be praying for Danny.

Anonymous said...

We are praying for you all and Danny, here in San Diego. Give Sue our love!! Chrissy

Anonymous said...

It all comes back-- all the mixed feelings, resentments, guilt, and just the heavy loss and helplessness of it all.

For me, I'll never forget the camping trip that Danny and Rob and I made together. Rob and Danny shared a soggy tent in the rain and I had a dry one. I heard them carping at each other not to touch the tent because it was letting in the rain-- ah, the gentle
light-hearted sounds that helped me fall asleep.

And staying up half the night around a fire (which is all the fun of camping out for me) and arguing politics and religion and the purpose of life. Danny was a bright kid with a bright future-- so I thought at the time-- it was so obvious.

And now it's been three years since his death, and I think it's a good thing for me to remember Danny. May I never forget.

"It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work . . . to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion . . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;"

~lloyd

Anonymous said...

Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.Amen. Maureen, please take comfort in the fact that Danny is in the care of the one who loves him even more than anyone in the world could imagine. God bless.

Maureen Wittmann said...

Thank you everyone!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Dear Maureen,

The tears are streaming down my face. I am so sorry for your loss--and for the loss of Danny's life.

I will join you in your prayers for him and will try to love my children all the more today in his honor. May Danny rest in peace.

God bless you, Dear.

Margaret

Anonymous said...

From Danny's "other" Mom:
Thank you so much everyone for your beautiful and soulful comments. I savored every word and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers for Danny and our family. Danny was a special guy - loved by so many people - who believed in his passions and lived his life with vigor. He lives now in eternal rest with Christ. What more could we ask for? He leads us from heaven each day. He is still a role model for me and always will be. God gave us the very special gift of Danny - for 22 years. That can never be taken from us. And to my loving sister-in-law: I love you Maureen - thanks for being you.

Donna Marie said...

God bless all of you...May Danny rest in peace!!...we will keep you all in our prayers!! {{{{HUGS}}}}