My Danny

Forgive my poor English. I never took lessons. Iw rite from my heart.

Sometimes I am thankful for things I hated at first… like for having had the chance to meet 2 men in my live I adored…

The first one (yep, here’s the odd biblical sense quote) stepped in my life at the american embassy in Berne, next to where we used to go swimming in summer as teens (called the KWD)… He was stationed in Europe. I was helping give swimming lessons to kids 3 evenings a week. And there was this very mysterious, quiet and handsome blond young man, lying on his belly… reading. (!) A brain wrapped in a body that took my breath away. Literally!

While his friends were flirting, joking with the “Barbie’s aka pretty ones” and swimming, showing off – he was reading. At least that’s what he wanted me to think (he admitted to me much later, he kept reading the same lines over and over, when he saw me from behind his glasses, what he liked about it, I never knew). It took him 3 weeks to address me with a short “good evening miss” How polite! I was little over 16 and very frustrated… “good evening miss” was definitively not what I wanted to hear from him. But I was used to be overlooked by men, since I always were more interested in fixing stuff, rollerscating, hiking and playing ice hockey, or reading the thicker the book the better, than boys and pretty dresses *shudders*. But I digress again. (Yes I do that a lot. If you want to know why, just read my post on my ADHD with a touvh of OCD) Anyway, that good evening miss, is all I got for the next 2 weeks. It was Joe, his older friend, a funny redhead covered in freckles, who actually asked me out in his name. Thanks Freckles. All I could think was: 5 weeks for a coffee, he better be worth it!

And he was!

I used to call him Danny because he resembled an actor from his favorite TV show Tour of Duty, Tony Becker’s Danny Percell. I also very much “find” him in Larry Wilcox’s Jon Baker (even though Jon is kept from spiralling down and eventually hitting the wall by eternal goofball Ponch, IMHO) or even a bit in Mark Valley’s Chance who took another apporach for dealing with “it”. All the same kind of men, blond, not to tall, striking pale blue eyes, with this remarkable and at first maybe a wee bit naive but ultimatly happy idealistical sparkle, of a boy going out into the world to serve his country and fight for freedom and prosperity, simply doing the right thing – what was expected of him. I don’t think anyone ever asked these boys if it was really what they wanted to do with their lives, it was what was expected of them: to man up! Chin up, and keep marching! And they did. But that’s just my opinion. I so thouroughly admire their integrity and sence of duty and responsibility. These beautiful young men, headstrong and quick to take offence, independent, stubborn, bossy, but as cute as a button. And actually shy to the bone, getting red ears if you looked at them for too long, or got too close. These men, after their tour, you feel this touch of a broken soul in them, a hint of too many things seen that sometimes shines through those marvellous smiles. A sadness, quickly coverd up. As if they knew, and had seen too much, too much to tell anyone… some of it I later learned myself being a smokediving firefighter and EMT myself for 25 years at the Swiss Federal Railway battalion, always being the first to be called in after suicides, and “accidents”, and then having to tell the families why a closed coffin was preferable, and not quite telling them the truth of why we needed DNA samples of their lost family members, some I’ll never know. But it was what he didn’t tell me, that told me all I needed to know, when is eyes looked right through me, into the void. A glare. When he just lay there, breathing differently (no sexual innuendo intended for once).

I showed Danny my Switzerland, the lakes, the mountains, the rivers on his days/weeks off… we spend days just walking and talking and more. My first overnight hiking, trough the Wallis and Engadin were with him. And yes, the first naughty too. He taught me too surf and dive with scuba-gear. I taught him how to snowboard like a real Swissboy and how to properly eat a Cheese Fondue.

Anyway, when he talked about his home in Watertown NY, that island state park (don’t remember the name) he went camping with his dad, I was there with him.

I loved to watch him, and those sparkles in his eyes, while he talked about his family, his friends in High School, his pranks… The little dimples that formed on his cheeks when he smiled…
I used to read in German to him, so he would learn how certain things were pronounced… He then would read his two favorite books to me in English. Zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, and on the road by Jack Kerouac. Still my favorite books. He wanted to show me so much, of his country, his life…

To cheesy? Well… stop reading then.. And BTW.. I am Swiss, that’s what we are, cheesy people.

Later, I even discovered that he had asked my dad to be allowed to ask me to marry him… My dad didn’t like american’s, he was a little boy in WWII in Italy and saw things he never shared with us, which must have been “unpleasant”. But he was impressed by this guys guts and determination, and agreed.

Danny died before that. On a sunny, warm Sunday in may, the 15. it was the warmest day measured until then (Funny the things we remember) We were on Holiday with two of his friends. It was a diving accident. He drowned. Or maybe he had stopped breathing before the air went out. I don’t know. And I don’t want to know… The cave collapsed and all I remember is that pink cloud out of his mask and his thumb sign to me and Freckles. UP! Freckles turned me around and we started the emergency resurfacing procedure. He held my arms so hard I bruised. No one ever looked at me that way before and ever again. He held my buoyancy-compensator with such a firm grip, that I gave in. I just gave in…

I’l never forget Danny’s eyes… they could change from that ice clear pale grayish-blue of a frozen lake in the alps, looking calm and peacefull at the surface, but so imfinite, I knew I could lose myself in them, if I dove in to deep – to the bright blue skye on a crispy cold and cloudless winter day… On February 23. 2011 he would have been 60 years old… (which is why I wrote this) When I think hard, I can still remember how his kisses felt and his skin tasted.

Today I am thankful for the love I was allowed to share, and for the strength I found, where I didn’t expect it. And for my friends who kept me going after that…

And I am thankful for that one night, 19 years ago, I took a cab, after a hard night-shift at work… I never took a cab from this company before… That night I looked into the most peaceful and loving grey eyes I had ever seen, and I knew I was finally home… We got married on February 25. 1994.

And you know what? He still looks at me with the same amazement and love in his eyes…

So if I got to go today, I’ll go overwhelmed to have had that luck, not once but twice!

Yes, I can say I am happy now!

A hui hou kakou Danny…

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