In the 2nd half of 2007, I was studying abroad in NZ. I’d just taken a year off of college for mono + a massive depressive episode, which entailed delaying my junior year abroad. I went from a Florida summer to the middle of winter at the southernmost university in the world. I knew no one. I broke up with my long-distance, long-term boyfriend my 2nd(ish) week there.
I spent a lot of time at the botanical gardens across the street from my flat. I got to know Dunedin very well. I made a couple good friends, and did well in my classes, and traveled around NZ, and got involved in extracurriculars. I also spent a lot of time online.
One person I came to know during that time was a guy a bit older than me who was extremely kind and supportive. He had me talk to his wife as well to assure me he wasn’t a creeper, and we wound up talking a lot. I told him my father had died years ago, and he often offered sound avuncular advice, making sure I had someone to lean on if I needed it, or more often to (lovingly) kick my butt into gear.
Dane and his wife became a fixture of my life. We stayed in touch off and on over the years. The frequency tapered off, mostly due to me getting my shit together and not needing as much of an informal therapist. But he was always there to give me a stern talking to when I needed it, or encouragement, or to be proud of me.
He was always there.
Until I logged into messenger last night, to find a months-old message from his wife letting me know he passed in his sleep of a heart attack in February.
I’m reeling. Dane, you are so very, very missed. I never met you in person, but you turned up as a genuine friend at a time and in a way I never expected. Thank you for your kindness, your advice, your support, and your love.
He truly was proud of you, sweetheart. He was always in your corner. He never doubted you would be triumphant in whatever goal you set for yourself. Thank you for letting him share in your life. I had to laugh – no, he wasn’t a “creeper,” but he knew full well how it might look, lol. I’m so thankful you took a chance. 🙂 ❤