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Daniel’s Memorial Oration

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A number of people have asked me to share the text of our remarks to Daniel at his memorial service.  The service took place on Saturday morning August 10th at Ecclesia in Houston.  Neither Cathy nor I were able to read it in the service; the grief was too raw.  Instead the text of it was read by one of the pastors, Paul Randall.  He did an excellent job  of conveying our words to Daniel and those who attended. We hope that you read it in memory and appreciation of our dear son.

Daniel, our beloved son, our cherished boy, our amazing young man, we need you right now. You are the talented writer and we are trying to do the impossible-write all that is in our hearts, as we think of you. You would know what to say and how to say it and it would be a masterpiece. The good news is, that what we have to say, we have already said to you hundreds of times in your life. And it’s a pleasure and a privilege, as your mom and dad, to say it again. We will never stop cherishing the words of love, admiration and praise, that come from our hearts, when we think of you.Vintage Daniel

At 8:24 am on February 28, 1983, you changed our worlds and we will never be the same. Your birth announcement read, ‘God has given us the desire of our hearts’. How prophetic, how profound, how much truth was contained in that announcement.  Even from the nursery, your peaceful and contented spirit was evident. You were such a joyful boy. Whatever we did as a family, you were happy to go along and enjoyed yourself in every situation. Daniel, your wonderful, wonderful smile has been with us from the very beginning and that half-dimple just melts our hearts when you smile, even now. You and your older brother Bryan were inseparable as little boys. You shared a room, toys, hand-me-downs, and friends. Bryan was the one that came running in to tell us that you’d hurt yourself, when you broke your leg at 6 years old. It was a few years later that you two confessed you were racing your bikes in the rain. We wonder what other escapades we never learned about? You charmed the medical staff and they decorated your cast at each check-up just to make you smile. You helped us welcome your younger brother Jordan and the two of you grew to share your love of technology, gaming and on-line everything. Jordan remembers as a little boy not caring whether he got to play video games because all he wanted to do was watch you play. And when he was in middle school, you and your friends let him play Dungeons and Dragons with you, the cool high school brother! You chose to play soccer and we cherish the many, many games we were able to watch you play. You amazed us with your beautiful voice and talented performances with the Varsity Singers at Dulles High School. Our home is filled with love, laughter, lots of action, and boys, boys, boys, because we have the privilege of being the mother and father of three sons.

How can we write what is in our hearts when we think of you? 

You are kind.

You are giving. 

You are an epic power-napper.

You are selfless.   

You always look out for the interest of others, often deferring to others’ wants and needs over your own. Daniel Jenel and Toby

We are so, so, proud of you, Daniel! You are a great YouTuber and we love listening to your posts, even though some of the time we have no idea what you are talking about in all those games you were playing! Still your dry and quirky humor entertain us over and over. And your Twitch channel was one of your newest accomplishments. Your dedication to pursuing the career of your dreams, as a game designer, made us so proud. You stuck to it, you persevered, and you made that dream come true. Another great accomplishment, Tobias Alexander, is a joy to our hearts and we look forward to telling him many stories of you as a boy and a teenager. You are a great father and we loved seeing you in that role. Thank you, and Jenel, for making us grandparents for the first time.

Son, whatever we say to you now sounds inadequate and small compared to the joy that we have of knowing you, loving you, and sharing 36 years with you.  Words fail to describe how proud we are of you Daniel, and how much we miss you already. Though we will see you again, the depth of grief we feel at missing you right now overwhelms us at every turn. 

Over the past week, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer have spoken to us. “Nothing can fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try and find anything. We must simply hold out and win through. That sounds hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves that bond between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap: he does not fill it but keeps it empty so that our communion with another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain.”

One of the things we got to do with you recently was to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We cherish all the hours as we binge watched the extended edition together. In the very last section, just before the big battle, Tolkien writes the most wonderful description, and this is what we read to you just after you passed from this life to the next. aaa gandalf and pippin

Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.

Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey, rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?

Gandalf: White shores, and beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.

Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad.

Gandalf: No. No it isn’t.

Daniel buddy, don’t forget the conversation we had with you a few weeks ago. We made a pact between us that whoever made the journey first, would be waiting to greet the other two. So, we fully expect you to keep your promise and your face will be the first we see, when the day comes that we join you on that white shore, in the far green country, under that swift sunrise. You are as much a part of us today, and forever, as you were that bright February morning and nothing, nothing will change that. Until then our amazing, loving, talented, caring, accomplished son, we love you forever, and forever, and you are always, always in our hearts, and our minds.  

Oh, and by the way, we are trying hard to remember that great advice you kept giving us to turn off our cell phones before we put them in our pockets, so we won’t butt-call you. But just in case we forget, please pick up. Love, Mom and Dad


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