I don’t often talk about Danny any more, although I think of him often, especially when it rains.
Do you think I mean my son? No, but it’s who I named him for.
I remember the day I first saw him clearly. I was working in McDonalds near where I was living at the time. He walked in during an orientation, and my jaw dropped. “He is going to work here?”
To me, he was gorgeous. And what I considered out of my league at the time. More about that another time. Yes, he started working there. We became friends… then something more.
More than anything, he wanted to be a NYC Police Officer. That was his dream. At the time that seemed to be a “catch” to my parents who adored him. His parents liked me because I balanced his demeanor with my emotions and thoughtfulness. Everyone wanted to see us together.
Except us, apparently. Over the course of 3+ years we broke up and got back together many times. We were better suited to being friends and tried that, but once you crossed a line it was hard to go back. He worked as a bouncer at a club for a while and I’d bring my friends there every weekend and we’d hang out. When he finally got called to go into the police academy as a Transit Cop, he stayed at our house often because it was closer than his parents’ home. We drifted in and out of relationships constantly. I think we liked each other, maybe even “loved” each other, but we weren’t “in love” with the passion that so many feel. We dated other people, but it never seemed to work because we always drifted back together.
It was during one of those “friends only” times that the worst happened. He had been planning to stay at my house with me while my parents were away. I was a few weeks into dating someone who would end up being my oldest daughter’s biological father. Danny still didn’t want to see me at the house alone, so he was going to stay there. I knew he had a softball game on Sunday and didn’t think much of it when he didn’t show up that night. These were the days people didn’t have cell phones to keep in contact all the time.
Monday I went to work and came home – still no sign of Danny. Maybe he’d changed his mind. I wasn’t sure of his work schedule. I fed the dog, then sat down to read the newspaper, which was delivered in the afternoon those days. And I started screaming.
His death made headlines. On the way to the softball game there’d been a single car accident that had killed him, his brother, and one of their friends when they hit a tree. His parents hadn’t meant for me to find out from the newspaper. They’d called a mutual friend to tell me and somehow in all of the grief that didn’t happen. There are much better ways of finding out someone you care about has died in a horrific way. How someone finds out can make a difference.
I was alone. I was grieving. I called the house and Mom couldn’t even talk to me, someone else got on the phone and talked to me and I don’t even remember the conversation. I called my “new” boyfriend who couldn’t show up to make sure I had someone around me (that should have told me something). I was alone for the whole night and came close to giving myself alcohol poisoning with a bottle of Jack Daniels. It’s why I really don’t have a taste for it any more.
My parents didn’t come back home. I wanted to go out and stay with the family for the week. They were mostly worried about who would take care of the dog. So every day I had to drive back and forth nearly 2 hours to attend the wake and the funeral. When my parents came home, they wouldn’t even talk about it. That’s the way my family dealt with things like that – you didn’t talk about it.
I felt him around me a lot in those days. I promised myself when I had a son I would name him Danny. When I finally was able to do that, I was happy. That’s when feeling him around me started to diminish. I don’t feel him around at all anymore. I have “my Danny” now.
About a year or so after his death, this song came out. It always brought him to mind when I heard it. Even all these years later, whenever I wake up and it’s raining outside, I think of Danny because of this song. I think it’s likely we would have ended up together, had a few kids, then divorced. I’m realistic enough to know that we had too many issues. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have cared. That doesn’t mean I didn’t miss him in my life.