Monday, August 03, 2009

You're My Angel...

...or at least one of the guardian sort. I'll explain.

I was driving along Butterfield Road the other night, after leaving a friend's house, and my mind starting wandering back to the days of high school. (This was due largely to the fact that Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots were gracing the air waves.) I started thinking about how I fell in love with the band Pearl Jam, which then sparked a specific memory about my former youth group leader, Dan DePew, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1994. It's strange how memories sometimes creep up on you. This one, however, crept up and started tugging on my heart.

Back in January of 1994, Dan and his wife, Sharon, hosted a Super Bowl party at their apartment complex in North Aurora. They rented out the clubhouse and invited all of us kids from church. We played pool, board games, and/or watched the game, itself. I've never really been a huge fan of watching sports - I prefer playing - so I started getting bored. Two of my friends shared my sentiment, so we asked Dan if we could wander around the apartment complex for a while. We promised to stay closeby and swore to him that we wouldn't go near the gas station on Oak and Randall. (There had been recent robberies there.) He gave us permission to go, so after bundling up, we were off. As we poked around the complex and played in the snow, the three of us chattered on about how cool we thought Dan was for trusting us to take a little adventure in the dead of winter. We laughed and made snow angels, threw snowballs, and slid around on the ice. It was ten times better than watching a ritual of tossing and dog piling coupled with heavy testosterone! After spending about an hour outside, we started feeling the cold, so we headed back to the party. We grabbed some snacks and soon after, we were on our way home.

What we didn't find out, until after Dan's death, was that he followed us that night. He was a soldier in the Army, so when we told him we wanted to take a walk around the property, he worried abour our safety, but didn't forbid us. Instead, he made it his mission to make sure we were safe. He used his training to track us, but he didn't invade our privacy. What I do hope is that he heard how much we praised him and that it made him feel good inside to know that we valued him so highly. It makes me smile knowing that he was there protecting us - he was so good, we didn't even know he was there!

I like to think he's still doing that for me, now...I really do miss him. A lot. It's strange knowing that I'll be turning 30 this year, and he never had a chance to make it past 25. I am thankful for every year I'm given and I hope he recognizes me in heaven.

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