When the phone rings at 4:30 in the morning it’s never good news. It’s not the folks at the lottery commission calling to tell you that the jackpot that you did not buy a ticket for, well you still won! No, life doesn’t work that way and when the phone went off on a Sunday morning…. I just knew this was going to suck. And it did. On the other end was my good friend John Sterns telling me that my great friend, and his brother, Daniel Sterns had passed away after a brief bout with cancer. Brief because it was only 87 days since his initial diagnosis until his appointment with God. Sure, like most cancer patients, he exhibited some symptoms prior to the official diagnosis, but 87 days is what the rest of us got. 87 days.
While I have the calculator out, let me do some quick math. I met Daniel when I was in the first grade. I entered first grade at five years old. I am now 56 years old, but I look a lot younger. You’re going to have to trust me on that one. Back to my buddy and this math shit. I have known Daniel for 51 years. 51 years out of 56 on this planet means that I have known Daniel for 91% of my life. Only my mom and sisters have known me longer. Whoa…trying to get my head around that for a second. 91%, and every year we both would have lived that percentage would have gone even higher! But because of cancer that percentage will now go down and that bums me out to no end. Numbers aside, I miss the guy.
Daniel was a wonderful friend and was also my connection to my hometown. Since high school I have lived in six states, but no matter where I was, Daniel would keep me up to date with all the news from Rockland County, NY. He knew everybody which meant sometimes I had to listen to a story about a guy that Daniel thought I knew, when I really couldn’t remember the guy at all. But Dan could…. he had a mind like that. He knew a ton of people and everybody loved him, and this is where I start to get pissed. Because Daniel died during this COVID-19 pandemic, we all must delay giving him a proper send off. His obituary was sad enough, but this line made me super sad:
The family will have a private service this week with a celebration of life to be held at a future date.
Daniel deserved more that this, but this is a worldwide pandemic. I wanted his daughters to see how much he was loved by the sheer numbers of folks who would have turned up to pay tribute to this great man. The wake would have been packed. The funeral would have been standing room only, the stories would have been pure gold, and the grieving would have truly begun. As it stands now, we will have to wait until mid-summer to properly send this great man off. COVID-19 I hate you for this. This virus disrupted all our lives, and as of this writing, ended the lives of over 14,000 Americans and over 80,000 folks worldwide. It’s a shitty bug, and it threw off the grieving process for me over my dear friend. Selfish I know, but I need to see his family, hug his friends, and cry my eyes out. I don’t have too many 91% friends. Until then I will take the time to prepare my stories about Daniel and get ready to send him out properly in his celebration of life that will hopefully occur this summer.
God, I miss you Daniel.
Link to his obituary: https://obits.lohud.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=daniel-e-sterns&pid=195768350&fhid=27193