Wow. I never thought I'd have to write the title of this post. Dan has been my friend for the last three years and I saw him more in the last three years than I would see most people from my childhood. I remember feeling creepy because I seemed to be taking an overabundance of photos of him and the band. He said, "That's okay, just don't show up at my house."
Dan always reassured me of things. "Yes, Chris actually likes you. He didn't hug you just for the photo."
Photos became a lot of what we talked about. Dan always shared my work. He would ask me every so often how many views my blog was at now and he was genuinely interested. I would ask him who I should try to interview next and he would never give specific suggestions, but he'd say, "Try to interview who you like and eventually people will ask you to interview them." I hope he was right. Time and time again he would say, "Keep knocking on doors." I needed that more than he ever knew.
Last May, I posted a photo of some guy dressed up as Deadpool and it seemed to blow up for no reason. Then months later, I found out why. Ryan Reynolds liked it. THE Ryan Reynolds. I was so excited! I had to tell Dan. This is what he wrote:
"That’s great. That’s what you gotta do! Keep knocking on doors, and one day you may be surprised which one opens! I’m sure you never thought in a million years Ryan Reynolds would like one of your posts, so take that as an encouraging sign of what else can happen. You could be interviewing him one day!" I hope he was right. On another day while we were on the same topic, he added, "It’s a grind for sure! But as you keep building and working at it, you’ll keep gaining notoriety, and more and more artists will share your stuff and one day things could switch and people will be asking you to interview them. But the important thing is that you love doing it. Being able to do what you love is its own reward." I know he was right.
I don't know what is going to happen to Dan's Facebook account. Selfishly, I want it to stay online so that our messages won't go away. I need them. I am re-reading them now, partly for this blog and partly because I don't believe it that he's not gonna write back anymore. The last thing he wrote to me about was how he drew things with pencil and then went over them with Sharpies. Then I didn't write back. I thought we'd have another conversation another day. We always picked up where we left off. Dan was so funny, so when I could make him laugh, that meant something. The other day, I shared something about Balto/vaccines and Dan clicked the laugh button, which made me laugh. Even though I am so sad, I couldn't help but laugh while putting this together.
What I liked most about Dan was even though he was a well-known musician, he always took the time to be a friend. I could talk to Dan about anything and I felt that he understood. He told me about working in a group home and one day the internet broke down. So he called someone to repair it, and the guy assumed Dan lived there. The repair man talked down to him and was like, "Heeey, buddy! I'm the guy that brings you the internet!" And Dan was like, yeah, I called you. So Dan knew the kind of things I faced all the time.
Last year, I was granted a media pass to take photos at The CMA Ontario Awards. It was divided into a room for the red carpet, a media room and a snack room. The snack room was full of all of the artists, and one of the ladies in charge treated me "less than" the other photographers. She seemed to think I wouldn't be able to navigate the room full of stars with my wheelchair. She said, "You don't have to go in there if you don't want to. Just live your best life."
Obviously she didn't know I'd be living my best life in that room. That would be the last time I'd get a photo with Dan and he was SO PROUD that I had made it into that room and that I had finally started to be recognized for my blog. Chris was too and we made fun of him because Dan I took a photo together and then he jumped in. Like the first day we met, Chris gave me this huge hug. Additionally, the day before the awards, Chris was taking markers out of my pockets and taking stuff out of my bag, so we had a good laugh because I said, "You're always so close to me." Not long after that, Chris left the band and I had a heavy heart because I knew that would probably be one of my last memories together with them, but now it has a whole new weight to it.
After I told Dan about the "best life" thing, we concluded that maybe the lady was drunk. After all, it wasn't just a snack room. There were beverages too. Despite what she said to me, I told Dan that I thought I did a good job and he said, "You did! Like I said before, people know you and like you. At least artists do. And that will go a long way."
Dan, I have no words other than "Thank you!" (Although I may have said some very different words when I found out your death wasn't one of your Facebook jokes. To be fair, you had just posted about tarantula bites.) Dan, I hope that you genuinely lived your best life. I just wish it could have been a hell of a lot longer. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. A Little Bit Goes a Long Way, and for one last time, I'd like to share my photos with you. I know you'll be there when my blog reaches one million views and we will celebrate, but we'll have to save that conversation for another day, like we always did.
P.S. I'm so glad I convinced you to watch The Bill Murray Stories and that we got to talk about his "random bursts of kindness". I think that's what you did for me.
Love, your friend, Annette
After I wrote this, I found information about Dan's Celebration of Life. In the photo they used, Dan was holding a photo that I took. I don't know who chose this, but thank you so much! I was not expecting to see that and my heart broke all over again, but it means the world to me. I am so sorry for everyone's loss.
P.P.S. Dan and I did this thing for awhile where we ended every sentence with "Haha! :)" But he thought maybe an extra h should be added for emphasis. Hahah! :)