I hope you dance

It’s been a long time since I wrote. We have been extremely busy in our new home.

Writing about Daniel, and sharing memories is both rewarding and emotionally draining, so procrastination is easily done.

Last summer, the Directors of the Memorial Education Fund have been reading the applications for bursaries and scholarships. One of the questions asked is ‘ When researching the Daniel Lovegrove Memorial Society’s scholarships and bursaries, what did you learn about Daniel.’

The answers varied, have made is laugh, smile and cry. A number of them touched our hearts. Many shared how learning about Daniel made them think differently about life and themselves. The thoughts they shared made me aware of just how much this blog was appreciated by those who read it, therefore as difficult as it is some days, I will share more about the wonderful young man I am blessed to call my son.

When the song ‘I Hope you Dance’ by Jo Dee Messina came out in 2000 the lyrics really hit me. I immediately thought of Daniel . It spoke to what I really wanted for him. I shared those thoughts with him, and he took it to heart.

At a young age he had shown interest and wonder in everything around him, and as he got older I didn’t want him to lose that.

When he was about three, I remember him telling me – ‘ Mommy wouldn’t it be nice if all the houses had hearts on the roof so that we would know there was love in them.’

As he got older he learned that not all houses would get that heart, but he still hoped and dreamed that one day they would, and that he could help people appreciate each other, each day, and find the wonders in life.

Shortly after moving to Peachland, Tom, Daniel and I laid on our backs in the yard, staring at the stars, enjoying the clear night with wonder, as though we had never seen stars before. His enthusiasm made me stop and re-look at things I had taken for granted for years. Even now, when I see something beautiful or amazing I take the time to look and appreciate the beauty all around us. When I see something really special, I say out loud –‘ Daniel, I hope you can see this too, wherever you are.’

We lived near Antler’s Beach and Hardy Falls, an area that has a lot of wildlife. He never tired of seeing the deer wandering around, or the black bear that was hanging around.

A couple of months before he died, there was a double rainbow in the sky. His Dad and I were out grocery shopping, so he called us to make sure we didn’t miss it, he also called his Grandma who lived a few doors down to tell her to come out, and then to make sure all would be able to experience it, he recorded it. He narrated the video with childlike glee. I love listening to his goofiness, and am so grateful that he took the time to enjoy it. Every time I see a rainbow, I think of him, and wonder if he can see it too.  See his video on the website as I can’t get it to insert here.

While living in Toronto we went to the Butterfly Conservatory at Niagara Falls. There were butterflies from all over the world. We walked through them in awe. As we were walking, Daniel saw a butterfly on the pathway, and afraid it would get hurt, he put down his hand to get it to walk to safety. The butterfly would not leave his hand once there, so Daniel moved his hand to his face, and the beautiful creature crawled to rest on Daniel’s glasses and cheek. When we left some 20 minutes later, he had to get an attendant to take the butterfly as it would not leave him. We talked about, and still talk about that amazing (and undoubtedly rare) event in his life.original butterfly pic

While there, Daniel also found another adventure, the Mascot. From the day he was born to the day he died, Daniel never was too old to hug a mascot, and that day at the conservatory was no exception.

daniel mascot

When we moved from Edmonton to Toronto, he saw it as an adventure and opportunity. We had hoped to see numerous live productions, unfortunately there wasn’t a lot the year we were there. We did see ‘ We Will Rock You’, a Queen tribute, which he sang along with, albeit, very off key.

Always willing to try something new, and also wanting to improve, Daniel decided to take singing lessons while in University. His friends Joel and Scott were very involved with Kelowna Actor’s Studio, and he admired their talent.

So off he went, one on one singing lessons. He did not fare well, he wanted it to come naturally, as so many things did for him, he wasn’t thrilled with practicing so the lessons did not last. We met the owner of the music school a couple last summer, when we bought our house. We were not aware that school across the street from the house we purchased last May.

When we met our neighbors, they told us that they too new Daniel, and remembered him from his short singing lessons, and also from Starbucks, which is 3 blocks away.

Daniel was like a sponge, he read constantly either books are various bits of information from all over the web. He loved learning. He wasn’t big on homework or secondary school, but once he started university he thrived. He believed he was lucky to have the opportunity, he also believed if he worked hard he would be rewarded. He turned down many invitations which disappointed his friends at times, but to him learning was fun. The exams he wasn’t fond of, but he did not want to let any of his time, effort or money go to waste. He was very aware of the cost of education and he did not want to waste time there.

Some would say he sacrificed fun to be there, but he really loved learning. He also met some great friends there, and his enthusiasm for learning shone through.

Love and ‘Daniel Hugs’
Daniel’s Mom

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So Many Memories

I posted this previously as a page instead of a post, so am re-doing it in the right place

All of Daniel’s life I talked (okay maybe bragged a bit) about him. There was never a moment when I wasn’t proud of him, proud to be Daniel’s Mom. When we first moved to Peachland, it was very different. He wasn’t in school, he wasn’t playing hockey and I hadn’t met friends or parents of friends. I felt like something was missing.

I remember the first time someone referred to me as Daniel’s Mom here.
I had gone to Mount Boucherie to see The Laramie Project. One of my friend’s daughters was in it.
A Mom that was there, looked at me and said, you’re Daniel’s Mom. It felt wonderful. I felt like I belonged again. Being Daniel’s mom was the most satisfying and fulfilling thing I ever did. Now all was good in the world. People knew my son and spoke fondly of him.
I had moved him from Edmonton to Toronto and after only a year in Toronto had moved him to Peachland.
He had new friends, he was part of a communitiy, and by being Daniel’s Mom I was part of that community too. Of course as his Mom I knew he was special and wonderful, the best kid in the world, but in the months since his death I have become so aware of how many other people thought he was special and those people have been kind enough to share their thoughts with me.

I decided it is time to share my stories of Daniel. The incredible young man that you knew did not go through an idyllic childhood. He chose to be who he became, despite the odds against him. I was blessed and so was everyone who knew him.

So I will write stories, and I won’t promise to do them in chronological order because memories come at times you don’t expect them, but I will share so that you all can know him like I did. He truly was a remarkable young man.

Please feel free to share your comments or your own stories too.

Love and ‘Daniel Hugs’
Daniel’s Mom

The Birds and the Bees (Contains adult content)

I think all parents to be say the same thing.  I will be honest and open with my kids.  I won’t be a prude.  I will be willing to talk to them about anything.  I know I did.  I was determined to be the parent whose child had all the information they needed. Daniel was always inquisitive and I prided myself in never saying ‘just because’, but in providing explanations and reason for all his inquiries. That was until we got to the Birds and the Bees.

The topic came up rather suddenly, from no interest to big questions. In the Edmonton neighborhood where Daniel grew up there were both Public and Separate (Catholic) Schools.  When looking for the best environment for him to learn, I determined that the Catholic system was more suited. Daniel had been baptized United, however we hadn’t attended church since he was around 3. I knew that religion, and the Catholic doctrine would be taught, and I believed that this instruction would (and did) provide him with thought provoking information. I do believe that this early learning was part of what kept Daniel thinking about spirituality all his life.

Anyways, I transgress.  As with all elementary schools there comes a time, usually in grade 5 or 6 when the ‘health’ class covers Sex Education.  Fine with me.  First lesson from a professional. At this point Daniel hadn’t asked any questions. He liked hockey and the computer, and although he had a few crushes, he was too shy to think about what to do about them.

The evening after The Class, as I was ‘tucking him in’ (I was lucky, he let me do that still),  I made the big mistake of asking how the class had been. In all seriousness Daniel looked at me and told me he didn’t think sex was for him, wasn’t something he wanted to experience. He continued with, ” I don’t understand why anyone would want to stick their penis in someone’s vagina.”

I believe I probably sputtered and choked, then wanting him to one day know the joy of making love, and not be scared for life about what was going on in his mind, I tried to reassure him.

” Well, Daniel, it’s hard to understand when you see it only scientifically” (and especially being taught that it was about procreation only;  made it very clinical).  ” But sweetie” I continued, ” one day you will meet someone, and you’ll fall in love. And, a way of expressing your love to each other, will be by making love, having intercourse.”  Without barely a pause, Daniel exclaimed  “You mean you did that with ALL your husbands!”  Ouch!

Catholic school, procreation, that’s what it’s all about. He had almost dealt with the fact he was created by Dad #1 and I doing that gross thing, but with all my husbands, as he put it….I don’t know how we wound the conversion down, but to suffice it to say that after the initial shock of it all he turned out all right, and I was extremely relieved when we said goodnight.

For a while I was spared any further questions, until one day in junior high he came home with the question. ‘”Mom, what’s a blow job.”  My supportive, open minded reply – “Ask your Dad.”
A very short time later Dad #3 came home – ‘ Dad, what’s a blow job’ his response: ‘Ask your Mom‘. With a heavy sigh of frustration Daniel said –‘ I did, she said ask your Dad ‘ ….his life saving out:  “Ask your other Dad ” (#2). We then directed him to the dictionary which gave him more frustrations, and eventually he either dropped it or we did the, when you’re older thing…..parenting, alot tougher than I’d expected.

Even though we had a shaky start to ‘those’ talks, when Daniel and I were on our own in Toronto things were easier.  He was older, I was more comfortable and we were able to talk about everything. He was in Grade 12, meeting new friends, and being 17. I wanted to let him know that I was supportive of him, I just wanted to make sure he was careful, he had plans for his future. Being the cool Mom, I casually mentioned to him that should he want to be in an intimate relationship and he was too shy to buy protection, I would be happy to be there for him. I’ll never forget his reply: ‘ Mom, if I’m not mature enough to buy condoms, I shouldn’t be having sex.’

Somehow through all the crap he’d seen in my relationships, he had come out of it with a sense of responsibility. He was waiting for the right girl, true feeling, someone with whom he wanted to be with.

On a sunny Saturday morning in the spring of 2008, Daniel arrived home from a night out. His eyes sparkled, he practically skipped from his car to the porch, and Tom and I knew he had found love and intimacy.  He experienced something that some never have. He and Jenn, as young as they were had a rare connection. He had waited, and he was glad he had.

We are accountable

The recent tragedy in the US gave me the kick I needed to start writing about choices. You see statistically (which I know is not very accurate) Daniel was more likely to end up in jail than to want to be an RCMP officer. He had a some not so great male role models in his life, he had people walk out on him, bully him, ignore him and just generally treat him like crap.
Daniel made a choice somewhere along the way to not be part of the statistics. I like to believe that my unconditional love, constant support and ever present ear made up for the short comings I had in picking the right partner for life.
Daniel somehow manged to keep believing in love and in soul mates, and found it in Jenn at the very young age of 17. He watched me struggle with relationships throughout his life. I was nearly 50 before I ended up in a healthy relationship. He found Jenn and worked everyday at keeping their relationship healthy and strong.

I hope the reason he still believed was because we talked. We talked about it taking 2 people giving 100% for a relationship to work. We talked about people needing to be loved and respected. We talked about substance abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse all of which he watched me go through. He could have kept the cycle going, but he chose to be different. He chose to speak out for women, for children, for minorities… for anyone who was persecuted for any reason. He chose to not get angry, and most of all he chose not to hurt anyone.

Daniel wanted to make a difference – he did – his kindness made many people take a second look at how they treated people. Daniel didn’t necessarily like every person he met, however he was not cruel to people if he didn’t care for them. He did his best to always be aware of how he had felt when he was bullied, when he was criticized by a ‘father’ that wasn’t good at being a dad. He may have seemed pushy to some, but all he really wanted was to see people happy. For people to not feel the pain he had gone through in different years of his life.

I hope I can help where Daniel left off – some of the memories are cute, they show his resilience through out the crap – some, not so nice, the crap he went through, some just a Mom wanting to still give advice to kids, the advice that helped her son grow into the man that gave his life for a friend.