Chapter 22 -------- It Doesn’t End There
I called my dad first to let him know what had happened. It was the hardest phone call I’ve ever made. I kept the conversation short and to the point. However, the big favor I asked him to do was call my sister. I told him I would call mom after we hung up. Since my mom hadn’t been out in about a month, it was a bit of a shock to hear that Danielle had passed. I quickly ended that conversation to avoid being triggered by questions. I only wanted to make it a point to call the people in my life who deserved to know.
Sadly, I felt that Danielle’s family also deserved to know, but I also wanted to respect Danielle’s final wishes. Danielle had made it her final wish to ban her family from knowing when she passed. The reasoning behind the decision was her family had offended every lady that we asked to communicate on our behalf. They were all so upset by her family’s comments that they all stopped talking to them after only several weeks.
One lady even informed us that they were trying to get the police involved as one of the volunteers was friends with the chief of police. The police chief’s response to her family was, “Do you really believe that Danielle is doing anything against her will?” Which if you knew Danielle, that was the truth. Danielle was upset that her family was causing so many problems, which led to her deciding to ban them from her life permanently.
The ladies and I decided at the house that day that we would inform her family when we announce it to Sedona. We were waiting several days for personal reasons to share the big announcement. I did feel wrong not telling them, but after their behavior, it was still a bit gratifying. They even spent days trying to call the cops, and the mortuaries in town trying to figure out what happened. I find it most interesting that I never once had to speak to a police officer despite their efforts.
The people around us showed Danielle and I the support that she had earned in the community. They knew Danielle only made her own decisions, and no one could force her otherwise. Everyone knew that her family was toxic and that despite their pleas, were never going to get what they wanted. I thankfully had five women who could attest to the situation being as I describe, which is why I believe the police never checked on us. Otherwise, I may have had to face the problems head-on.
I’ll admit that my unresolved anger towards her family’s behavior has been helped in the writing of this book. It is how I decided to deal with my anger around the subject, by telling the truth it helps me admit my mistakes too. I have far more compassion towards them now than when Danielle first passed. I have found forgiveness for making those same mistakes. If I can find forgiveness for myself, then I can also forgive them. Jesus said something that describes her family perfectly. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and in that forgiveness, I have found peace.
I’ll also admit I was far less nervous about the service not having to worry about seeing her family. It was obvious that she was angry with them before she passed. However, the real reason she banned her family from her funeral was to give me a safe space to mourn. Danielle didn’t want me going postal on her family because of their behavior. She wanted her funeral to be perfect.
Thankfully there wasn’t much we had to do when it came to planning Danielle’s funeral. Danielle had planned every detail down to the songs she wanted to be played. The only part we had to decide was which weekend we would have both of her services. I left it up to the ladies as it didn’t matter to me when it happened. It was their help that made the whole process effortless for me. I didn’t even have to call the funeral home because someone else took care of that.
The funeral home arrived that evening to fulfill Danielle’s wishes of being extremely discrete. She didn’t want her death to be a public spectacle. She only wanted the people involved with her final weeks to be allowed over. It was a time Danielle designated as a mourning space for those involved. She knew that we would all need it. I asked as a favor that the funeral home not cremate Danielle for at least three days. My reasons being a bit more complicated than a simple explanation could provide.
In my research about Near Death Experiences, I had read about people who died and after several days, awoke in the morgue to the complete surprise of the mortician. I had also met a woman who was declared dead for several days before coming back with a new huge life purpose. I felt it wasn’t too much to ask to give Danielle that possibility, and due to my Catholic upbringing, I figured three days was a good bet. Jesus arose in three days after dying on the cross, and if my wife had any chance of coming back, I wanted to give it to her. The funeral home gave me four days, making me happy and surprisingly hopeful.
In the week that followed we all helped in planning the two funeral services. We had decided to hold the first service at the Sedona Creative Life Center. Which in Sedona synchronicity is the one place that Danielle and I spent the most time before she got sick. The chapel overlooked the gazebo we used to enjoy only seven months prior. How fitting that it would also be the place of our final goodbyes.
I wanted a couple of days away from Sedona and made an adventure down to Tucson to escape the world. I wasn’t quite ready to face anyone and wasn’t really in a place to talk about it with anyone. The interesting thing was that I was also stepping into my parent's world. A world that I had avoided for some time because of the stresses that had occurred in the past. I was hoping that this would be a safe space for me to stay for a couple of days. I was wrong.
After arriving in town, we decided to have a family dinner that evening. We all decided to go out to my favorite restaurant, Basil’s. I was planning on a nice dinner where my family was there to support me after my loss. It didn’t seem like a lot to ask, but for my mother, it was too much to ask. The truth is my mother, and I do not mix well when she drinks.
I thought I had a safe place to vent some of my frustrations about everything I went through. I let them know how overwhelming it was working non-stop and taking care of Danielle. I told them that we didn’t receive much support from the community until it was too late. I didn’t even go on for very long before my mother did something that I couldn’t imagine.
My mother, in her guilt, decided to make me feel bad about not asking for help. I wasn’t about to have her project her guilt back on me. It was her guilt that she felt for not offering to help. The entire time Danielle was sick, my mom never once offered to visit. I lost my composure immediately after she defended her comments. I went into attack mode, telling her she needs to stop immediately, stating “You need to stop making me feel guilty and instead apologize for not helping.”
My mom persisted, saying that I still should have asked for help. I then reiterated, “you should apologize or say nothing at all. I will not feel bad about something that makes you feel guilty.” In no way was I going to allow my mother to make me feel bad after everything I just went through. If she felt that bad about what I went through, then, she should have done nothing but apologize. Instead of understanding where I was coming from the drunken fool kept defending her position.
I am not proud of how I behaved next. My mother was being so offensive that I stood up from the table and yelled, “Shut the Fuck Up or Apologize.” She then apologized, not to me, but towards both my dad and grandfather for my behavior. I excused myself from the table asked my dad to get my food to go. I was livid, and after all the emotional crap I had been through I was not about to deal with my mom projecting her guilt on me.
Guilt that could have been avoided if she had simply offered to help us. If my mother had been there for her son and dying daughter-in-law, maybe she wouldn’t have felt so guilty. The problem is she couldn’t own that guilt due to her alcoholism. However, she also brought some serious awareness to the PTSD that I was suffering. I discovered that night, and it would be a struggle to manage feelings if I became triggered.
When my father returned that night, I lost it on him about her behavior, and I told him that if I have one more problem with my mom that I will make sure that she is banned from Danielle’s funeral too. Danielle had already banned her family because of horrible behavior, and my mother was no different. She made me feel bad, just because she felt bad, all in a ploy to make herself feel better. Unimaginable, but again I forgive her because she honestly, knows not what she does.
Due to my complete lack of motivation to get back to Sedona, I spent several days isolated playing old video games at my parent’s house. I kept away from my mother and helped to plan the services with the ladies. Even though the planning of the services was not something I was looking forward to, I didn’t realize just how much help I was going to get. It was a huge relief to come back to Sedona where love and support were booming.
I felt more at home in Sedona with people who were capable of showing compassion. The women who helped sympathized with the plight I had faced and knowing how sensitive I was to everything. The compassion I felt being back home with people who truly knew how to care made me feel worlds better. Something about Sedona is just special, and I could feel my wife’s presence ever stronger now that I was back.
The first sign that I noticed immediately was Danielle taking control of my music playlists. Entirely new songs began to play that normally wouldn’t. I also found song lyrics would answer questions running through my head. I would be brought to tears as a song would answer the thought I was having. It was almost like my playlist was reading my thoughts and communicating with me. On top of that, it started playing a bunch of songs that Danielle liked, instead of most of the songs that I would normally hear before her passing.
In the quiet of her house, I could feel her presence everywhere. It was crazy to sit in the yard because every thought about Danielle would have an accompanying butterfly. There were constant signs that her presence was ever more powerful now that she shifted to the next life. It was becoming ever clearer that Danielle wasn’t gone but with us more than ever.
I even shared the Orgonite pyramids that were in Danielle’s room with the Ladies who helped. I explained the purpose of Orgonite. One of which is to help remedy nightmares, which warranted a retort about Night Terrors. Surprisingly enough, one of the ladies had experienced a lifetime of night terrors. She explained that she would wake up feeling that something bad was in the room with her. It was frightening and would mess with her sleep. I told her there was a chance that the orgonite could help.
A week later, I would find out that her night terrors stopped and instead she had a more interesting experience. She said normally she wouldn’t have shared the experience, but I was open to otherworldly experiences. Reluctantly she explained that she wasn’t feeling the bad spirits anymore, but instead, she was having positive spirits visit now. It surprised me to hear that Danielle came to her and had an audible conversation. I credit the orgonite for creating that miracle.
In the weeks following, I would have other people tell me about her visiting them in their dreams. While I have never been great at remembering my dreams, it was a big goal of mine to become better. Knowing that Danielle contacted others through dreams, gave me a huge incentive to remember my dreams. A lifetime of telling myself that I don’t remember my dreams had created a mental block. I researched how I could start remembering my dreams more.
I began with journaling to make sure that I would build a habit of remembering my dreams. Using intention, I would say, “tonight I’m going to remember my dreams.” I did several other tricks to help with my dream recall, and almost immediately, it started working. I will never forget the first vivid dream I had with Danielle. It was almost as if time had gone back several months and we had a conversation just like before she took a turn for the worst. It was such a comforting experience.
As I sat there with my wife, I could feel her presence just like I once had. We talked a little, but I kept bringing up her treatment and what we needed to do. I felt like I had all the answers this time, but she just kept changing the subject. She didn’t get upset with me for being stubborn either. Danielle was so peaceful and reassuring towards me. While I don’t recall much of what we talked about, I do know that it was amazing until the moment I awoke.
I awoke to the feeling that what I had experienced had just happened. No dream in my life had ever felt so real. I thought in my world that Danielle was still alive. I knew I finished speaking with her, but now all of a sudden, I was in a different reality, one where Danielle was no longer present. It was crushing having to confront that realization again. However, I eventually gained a deeper understanding of the connection we still shared.
I felt special to be able to connect with her on the other side. It also made sense why she didn’t want to talk about treatment as she didn’t need it any longer. Another sign that Danielle wasn’t gone she just had moved to a better place. No longer confined to her body, she would start to visit many people in their dreams. All of Sedona was now her home.
As the Services approached nearly two weeks after her passing, we were all a bit anxious. Danielle had planned the entire children's program from start to finish. It was to be her final performance, a performance that her students would fulfill to the highest perfection. I started training with Danielle’s students for the children’s service. It was amazing to watch Rose, who returned a second time from Europe, put on the show. I saw so much of Danielle in the way she carried herself.
Each student possessed a special dance quality that Danielle had cultivated. No two students were the same, each having a unique beauty in their artform. Compared to many dance schools which breed conformity, Danielle wanted her students to embrace their uniqueness. It was amazing to see the impact that my wife left on the world. She was more than just my best friend and wife because she was a teacher to all. She wasn’t about to stop teaching even from the other side.
It was incredible to learn even more about the girls in the week leading up to the service. It was amazing to find that every single student, even the ones I didn’t know that well, were little reflections of Danielle. She was a role model, and the impact of her teachings could be seen in their actions. Danielle shared herself with the world, a gift that impacted many lives. Knowing that I could be there for such an amazing person was genuinely a gift for me.
I know many of the girls felt bad about not being able to see Danielle before her passing. A decision that Danielle made with the highest regard for her students. Isolation was not something that went over well with many of the girls, and we knew it would be a huge trauma to the community. We made sure to reach out to all the guidance counselors to make them aware of the situation. Danielle was very concerned with the wellbeing of her students, and they needed to receive love and support to help them through it all. It crushed Danielle that she didn’t have the strength in her final days to have visitors.
Danielle had truly left an impact on this world. She changed lives and helped more people than I could ever count. The spider web of her influence has spread all over this planet, and people are truly better because they knew her. I am a better person because I knew her. The strength she taught me was something I was going to need more than ever. I had no idea just how emotional I was until I had to write my Eulogy. Typing it up brought up some tears, but I wrote it without an emotional hiccup. It seemed too easy until I tried reading it out loud.
It was clear that I was going to have a little more trouble discussing my emotions than I previously thought. I wasn’t going to hold anything back, and I wanted to express many feelings to the community. I also wanted to share a little history with the community about how Danielle and I met. That meeting that eventually led to us getting married in the hospital in Scottsdale. It was going to be a huge emotional speech and my first speech under the circumstances.
The only people that I wanted at the funeral were my parents, considering they were the only ones actually to meet Danielle. It also happened that my Grandfather was going to join, as he lived just forty minutes north of my parents in Tucson. My sister couldn’t make it because she was in Thailand, and I didn’t want her to ruin her new job. My parents told her it was going to be recorded so she could watch it after.
The anticipation began building as the service approached, and I finished my speech. It relieved me that a couple of my close friends were going to be coming up from Tucson to support me as well. I was going to need all the support I could muster to make my wife proud. It was important for me to show Danielle as much respect in death as I did while she was alive. Just because she left us physically, that didn’t mean I was blind to her presence everywhere. I decided to rent a black suit to look my best for her. Danielle deserved the best.
I felt her presence on the day of the service, more than ever before. I made sure that I was cleaned up and looking sharp. The adult service was late Saturday afternoon at the Creative Life Center in Sedona. It was a fantastic little space with huge vaulted ceilings with seating for about eighty people. We hoped that it would be large enough. Thankfully, there weren’t going to be masses of children to take up seats.
I suppose I should have expected to be sitting in the front, as my family and I were ushered to a reserved front row. The energy in the place was starting to pick up as people trickled in. My anticipation was building as I waited for the ceremony to start. I was put at ease before the ceremony began when the Pastor stopped by to have a few words. Danielle had asked that she perform the service before her death. Now I understood why. She was truly a magical woman.
The pastor we ended up using was a Rabbi, who also danced with Danielle for years. Danielle also felt a huge connection with the Rabbi and honestly the Jewish faith. I received some helpful advice from the Jewish community. I found relief in the culture because of how they appreciate and respect the departed.
The one tradition I decided to uphold was Kriah, which is the ancient practice of tearing clothes as an expression of grief and anger in the face of death. I was gifted a little thread of fabric that I was supposed to wear for seven days. I would then tear a little bit every day for the following week as a sign of remembrance. I liked the idea, and it was even more interesting to find out the tradition started with ripping one’s clothing a little every day. The thread is a less destructive tradition of ripping clothes. Despite the Jewish influence, Danielle had not included any traditional ceremonies in her service.
We had some beautiful music that was played over the sound system as people arrived. There were some familiar faces, but I didn’t recognize most of the attendees. It still blows my mind how many people showed up. We ended up with a full house. It was becoming a very intimate setting with more coming in as we were prepared to start. The Rabbi was ready to perform the less traditional service that Danielle had planned.
We decided that I would be the second speaker as I didn’t have the nerve to go first. I realized it was going to be a challenge expressing my thoughts to everyone. Thankfully the Rabbi opened up with a beautiful introduction, I could already see tears in the audience. The first speaker was one of the volunteers. Truthfully, I don’t remember any of her speech as I was so nervous about talking next. After a brief introduction from the Rabbi, I approached the podium.
As I got on stage, it became ten times harder to contain the sadness that I was feeling. I could feel all the sadness that everyone was sending me at that moment, having lost my wife in such a horrible set of circumstances. I could feel all their pain, and it made mine even more powerful than ever. I started crying almost immediately after I started reading.
I couldn’t contain the tears, and with all the strength I had, I persisted. I spoke through the tears, and I delivered my message. I said everything necessary. I even made sure to cover the topics that Danielle wanted me to cover. Danielle had several points that she told me to discuss. They were topics I was already interested in discussing, but she made it a requirement. I was happy to oblige.
The main topic was calling out the spiritual community for their lack of support. Stated that simply sending positive thoughts for a couple of minutes a day is hardly putting the effort in to be of service to others. I also stated how abandoned Danielle felt by the community. We need to support the sick and dying with loving, ego-free action. We need to show up, with hands of service to make their situation better. Each person’s definition of better is going to be different, so please find out.
It was important to me that I share supporting treatment no matter what your opinion is. There were other people, including her family that Danielle banned from coming to her service because they couldn’t respect her choices. Narcy was number one on Danielle’s ban list next to her family. Narcy was not banned for my benefit but because she had hurt Danielle so bad.
Narcy’s behavior while visiting, followed by the rumors after that, were unforgivable. However, Narcy tried to get the ruling overturned before the service. Since she decided to lie instead of admitting to her faults, she was double banned by me. Narcy begged to be allowed to go to the service. One of the volunteers was working as a go-between between her and I. After hearing Narcy’s side of the story from my friend, I was even more upset. Narcy’s response was even more infuriating because she contradicted herself only proving her lies. Danielle’s friend agreed with my assessment and didn’t pursue the topic further.
Since Danielle had experienced an overwhelming lack of support for her treatment options from her family, doctors, and other visitors, I had to speak up. Circumstances demanded it. I was sure that the treatment we choose would have cured Danielle several times over. Something had prevented the treatments from working. When I looked in hindsight at the opinions, she received from people around her about her treatment, it made me mad.
Again I was taken back to the Placebo and Nocebo effect. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to mention the topics directly or indirectly in my speech to the community. I found the Opinions about treatment options can become even more diverse when you get into the Sedona natural cure community. Even spiritual people just wanted to push their treatment options versus support Danielle’s choices. It was honestly just as bad as the medical establishment except for one thing they usually weren’t pushing poisons.
I’ve personally read about fifty different Cancer treatment options that work for some people while being completely ineffective for other people. There is not a universal cure to cancer, and in my experiences with the disease, it was far more complicated than I previously imagined. How many different choices could have Danielle made? The choices are so numerous that it does require support to make that decision stick.
Support was the biggest message I wanted to deliver. I think it shocked most of the crowd when I stated the reason her family wasn’t present was that they failed to support Danielle. I still think the stress from her family was the biggest contributor to preventing Danielle from having a full recovery. Their failure to support Danielle caused me more stress than I can even express in this book. It isn’t my goal to attack her family but raise awareness. They are an example of how not to behave. Instead, we must practice forgiveness for their ignorance.
The lesson I learned is that family and doctor support is incredibly important to giving a patient the best chance at beating a disease. Since I at times behaved worse than Danielle’s family, I won’t be a hypocrite. However, I learned from my mistakes, and I hope that others can learn from those mistakes too.
I’ve learned so many people are stuck in similar circumstances. It is becoming a greater problem in our culture, forcing millions of people into a reality with cancer. Sadly we are watching a problem grow radically without anyone helping address the real problems people face. If we aren’t going to address these problems, then they will continue to persist. I intended to bring serious awareness to these problems in just a couple of paragraphs, while also telling everyone how amazing Danielle was.
Since most people already knew how amazing she was, it wasn’t a huge part of my speech. I knew that everyone else would be telling about the years they spent with Danielle, the experiences she had shared. I still find that the most common theme was that Danielle was everyone’s best friend. So many people viewed Danielle as one of their closest friends and biggest influences. It was touching to hear from several former students about how Danielle positively impacted their lives.
I was in tears most of the service. The dance performance from the Rabbi was spectacular. It was a perfect expression of what Danielle stood for. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to remember Danielle. It was obvious to me that Danielle meant so much to the community and had left an impact that no one could replace. We were all aware that we had lost something very special in this world. It was a beautiful experience.
We shared in some delightful appetizers that were donated by one of Danielle’s friends. She ran a catering company in town and immediately volunteered her services. It made for a beautiful experience with televisions playing images of Danielle and her students. I appreciated everyone who came and had a pleasant experience overall. The support everyone showed was spectacular. I wouldn’t be so lucky the next day.
I was even more anxious about the next service. Danielle wanted me to perform my first dance ever for a very large audience. Little did I know, but my wife’s funeral was exactly one year after my grandmother’s passing, and I was slightly surprised my grandfather even came, considering he never met my wife. I sympathized with his situation, but he also decided that he wanted to go home, which meant my whole family would miss the second service.
My parents decided to leave Sedona that morning and not wait several more hours to attend my wife’s final performance. It was devastating, and I still don’t understand how parents could do something so cold. My sister was even more surprised to hear that happened. My grandfather could have waited in the hotel if he didn’t want to attend. However, I still arrived early to help prepare for the big day.
We had a lot of support from her students on the day of her service. We had reserved the local charter school for the performance. I was familiar with the location because Danielle had taken me to visit her students on several occasions. She had decided it was the perfect location for the children’s service. Danielle had planned enough performances to provide everyone with all the guidance they needed.
The big day was going to be a final performance for Danielle’s students but the first performance for me. Danielle made sure that I would dance in the second service. We even decided together which song I would dance. Surprisingly the perfect song ended up being Justin Beeber, seriously. I almost regretted mentioning it as an option, until I saw her joyous reaction. I was willing to dance to anything if it made Danielle happy.
The song was called “Where are U now,” which surprisingly really resonated with the fact that she was gone. The first verse ends with, “When you broke down I didn't leave ya; I was by your side; So where are you now that I need ya?” I was meant to dance to that song at her service. It was the perfect song to display my talents and show respect to Danielle. The song comforted me because I felt I knew the answer to the last question. There was only one song that I felt a deeper connection from Danielle.
The one song Danielle played repeatedly. It always made me cry because I always could picture Danielle dancing to it, and at the same time, it would remind us we were both in over our heads. Matt Kearney wrote the chorus to “All I need” for our story, and it always hit home…
Guess we both know we're in over our heads
We got nowhere to go and no home that's left
If everything we've got is slipping away
I meant what I said when I said until my dying day
I'm holding on to you, holding on to me
Maybe it's all gone black but you're all I see
You're all I see
It just so happened that right before I was supposed to Dance at Danielle’s service, this song ended up playing two times in a row. Rose tried to change it several times. Afterward, she said there wasn’t anything she could do to change it. Danielle wanted to hear our song twice before she watched me dance.
Watching the student performances, I sat there listening to both songs, feeling tears filling in my eyes. Despite not having my family, I was supported by friends of Danielle on each side. Thankfully, I had two separate parent and student combos who offered to join me. The younger student was always a riot when we would meet. I appreciated the mental break that only a child could provide. She helped a lot of my adult worries fade away. Cutting the tension,when she asked if she could dance too. I just smiled and thanked her for the offer before proceeding to the stage.
I danced with all the energy I had for about three minutes. The irony of that is that Danielle was the first dance instructor to teach me to slow down. Danielle taught me pacing, but I guess I needed a little more coaching. My endurance was a lot to be desired too, considering that I found it very difficult to dance after Danielle’s passing. I expected I wasn’t going to be ready for a full song. That didn’t stop me from giving it 110% of what I had available. When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to finish the whole song, I did the unexpected.
I grabbed my little friend from her seat and asked her to join me. Having a supporting dancer helped pushed me for the last minute. I was even more grateful to have her carry the last minute of the song as I couldn’t dance another inch. I left everything I was feeling on the dance floor. I found, at that moment, the power dance had to release my pent-up emotions. There was nothing that compared to how calm I felt after recovering. However, it would take two more performances for me to catch my breath.
After the performances, we had another catered reception. The restaurant I previously worked for volunteered to cater the event. I asked if my former employer would do the Children’s service, while another friend did the Adult service. It was incredible that we were so fortunate enough to have the support. Contributions from everyone made for another incredible ceremony. We made the best out of the unfortunate circumstances we all faced.
As strange as it was not to have my family at the children’s service, I always felt supported. Everyone was kind and compassionate towards me. It was nice to connect with some of the parents. Many shared some of the positive stories they had with Danielle. I was as cheery as I could be under the circumstances. While truthfully Andora had the most fun. I didn’t feel it appropriate to bring Andora to the Adult service, but I couldn’t keep her from the children.
Andora had a fantastic time wandering around the schoolyard after the performance. She was a perfect angel through the performance as well. Considering it was far from her first performance, it was great to have her little presence. The students loved having Andora running around, and she often had a crowd of children following her. I could feel the love Andora brought to everyone, including most of all myself. A little bundle of Angelic Love.
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