It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month since I lost my sweet Dan. In some ways, it feels like just a couple of days and yet it feels like a lifetime ago that I watched him get into a car to go to a doctor’s appointment. I had no idea that he was leaving our house for the final time.
What would I have done differently if I knew? Probably hugged and kissed him, stared into his face memorizing every last detail and buried my face in his neck so I could be enveloped in his scent. Instead, I was chasing a runaway dog down the alley and hollering over my shoulder, “Call me when you’re on your way home”.
That just kills me. I find myself replaying that last scene a lot.
In fact, I seem to be doing that a lot these days; replaying situations, revisiting conversations, re-reading texts, emails, cards, and handwritten notes from Dan. I’m not sure what I’m looking for when I do this, but it seems to occupy a lot of my headspace these days.
Being in our home, surrounded by Dan’s things is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because even for brief flashes of time, everything LOOKS normal. His shoes are where he left them. His mail sits unopened in the home office. The library which was his home studio for the past 13 months looks exactly the same as it did when he left the house on February 23 for a 12:30 PM doctor appointment.
Going into that room for the first time took my breath away. It literally looked like exactly as you would expect a work space would look when someone leaves for an appointment planning to return: Aa half full coffee mug, the computer turned on, headphones draped over the perfectly positioned microphone, the overhead lights still burning and a small bowl of peanut M&Ms on the side. Always Peanut M&Ms.
I thought I could just go down there and start to disconnect the equipment so items that belonged to the radio station could be returned. Chloe came down with me and promptly decided to squat and pee right at my feet. She’s never done that before and I screamed at her. Then I immediately started to cry. I cleaned up the pee and went back upstairs. Thank god for my sister Patty who through her own grief and sadness, stayed down there and finished the task.
With a Little Help From My Friends
Many of you know that Patty lives in California. She and her husband Amin have taken the pandemic VERY seriously and like most of us, they have stayed home and stayed safe. The minute I told her that Dan passed away, she booked a flight to Minneapolis and arrived at 7:00 PM on the day that Dan died.
She didn’t ask if it was OK because she knows me and knows that I would have said “No, No. It’s OK. I’ll be OK”. I’m so glad she didn’t ask. I cannot even imagine what I would have done without her being here for me AND Chloe. She’s done everything from receiving deliveries, making phone calls, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, fixing the computer, vacuuming and dusting, washing dishes, letting Chloe out, taking Chloe to get her nails cut, going to the bank, calling a handyman to do a few small projects, and and and… a million other things.
She and my friend Ginnee went to Dan’s workplace at Entercom and cleaned out his studio. Patty maintains this blog and she spent countless hours make the website for the Dan Culhane Memorial Fund. She even brought Dan home to me from the funeral home.
I’m sad and stressed out about her leaving. But she has a husband at home who misses her terribly. I actually tried to talk her into buying the house next door that was for sale. No go. Damn.
Thankfully she’s coming back in May and again later this summer for the memorial event. I will NEVER be able to repay her for being here for me. Just writing about it now makes my cry. I don’t know how people do this without a lot of support.
I am grateful every single day of my life for all of the support I have received from so many people. Everything from meals, gifts, flowers, phone calls, texts, emails, offers of help with the house/yard/car/dog, offers to come over and stay with me, errands and sympathetic ears to listen and shoulders to lean on. I plan to write more on this at a later time. It makes me so emotional to think about the love and support that surrounds me.
What Do I Do When My Love Is Away?
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of a million little details. The paperwork alone is staggering and overwhelming. As you go about your day, you don’t think of all of the little things that make up everyday life. What bills did Dan pay? Were they on Bill Pay or did he pay them manually? What and where are his passwords? Is it garbage day? Whose name is on the account with the dog groomer? Which of his clients aren’t on Facebook and don’t know what happened? Was he in the middle of a freelance project for someone?
That’s a part of the many awful things about losing someone. You don’t get to really grieve because there is so much “business” to take care of. Every day is a series of phone calls where you have to repeat the same heartbreaking phrase over and over and over again... "my husband died”, “my husband died”, “my husband died”…sometimes I’ll say “my husband passed away” just to mix it up a little. But it still rips my heart out every time. Recite his birthday, the day he died, his social security number again and again and again. Then I’ll get people on the phone who are SO kind and sympathetic that if I can say all those things without crying, their kindness makes me cry.
I actually bawled on the phone with customer service rep from our RING doorbell account. I’m talking about hardcore crying. She was so sweet. I did it again today talking to the vet’s office. When I told the woman about Dan her response was “Oh no! All of us just love Dan here.” Truer words were never spoken.
I look around the house and every corner of every room reminds me of Dan. His shoes on the floor, his clothes in the closet, the peanut butter he eats, the multitude of hot sauces in the refrigerator, his toothbrush on the vanity, his Vanity Fair magazines, his body wash in the shower, his boots in the garage and yes…his peanut M&Ms in the pantry. He really loved those peanut M&Ms.
Just like the outpouring of stories about Dan, the visual reminders are a source of comfort and a source of pain. They remind me of all of the little things about Dan that I love so much, they confirm my knowledge that I was married to a really special and amazing man. Yet they also remind of how much I have lost -- how much all of us who love Dan have lost.
A Life Filled With Love And Kindness Never Dies.
So many people have asked how they can help right now and I’m so grateful. With the pandemic still going on, there isn’t a lot that anyone can do other than checking in, and keeping me, Joe and Cori in your thoughts and prayers…and remembering Dan. I don’t want him or his influence on people to fade over time. The world needs a lot of kindness now.
Sharing that kindness is the primary reason why we created A Legacy of Kindness: The Dan Culhane Memorial Fund. People have been so generous in sending Memorial Gifts and I want to pay it forward in Dan’s name and his memory.
There were so many things that Dan was passionate about including Youth Hockey, Radio/Broadcasting, supporting people who are dealing with Multiple Myeloma and other blood cancers and animal rescues. The Dan Culhane Memorial Fund will be used to support those organizations into the future – in Dan’s name. For those of you who have already sent memorial gifts, those funds have been set aside to kick off the fund.
I will be doing research and finalizing specific plans/organizations that will benefit from the fund. Those plans will be shared as soon as they are confirmed. My hope is that this fund will grow and continue for many years to come. It’s one of the best ways I can think to honor the life, legacy, and spirit of my beloved Dan.
If you are interested in donating to the Dan Culhane Memorial Fund, please click here. Please feel free to share the link with people who aren’t on social media as well. If you have ideas on how to grow the fund or want to volunteer to help develop the fund, please contact me directly. I’m open to any and all ideas and would love to work with anyone who is interested in being a part of it.
Finally, for those of you who have reached out via text, Facebook Messenger or email, I apologize for not getting back to you yet. I want you to know how much I appreciate you checking in and my slow response doesn’t reflect my deep gratitude. There are days when it’s easier to respond than others, but I will be following up with each and every one of you. It just may take me a little time.
With love to each of you,