Let the memory of Dennis be with us forever
  • 26 years old
  • Born on January 24, 1985 .
  • Passed away on March 31, 2011 .

When a mother loses her son, a part of her soul is removed that can never be replaced. I was not created in a way to lose you, Danny, and as time moves forward since you were taken from us, a part of me remains, and will always remain, the mother of a little boy, a great son, a loving brother, and a father whose son meant everything to him.

Even as a little boy, you were taking care of everyone. You seemed to have a natural ability to always be looking out for your sister and I. Even in those times you made typical little boy bad decisions, I couldn’t get mad at you. You’d flash that smile you had, and I’d know your heart was in the right place. If I actually caught you doing something wrong, you never could fib your way out of it, because your smirk would give you away. I miss that smile. It was a smile that said, “Catch me if you can.”

I would always know when you’d been with friends because you’d come home wearing that beautiful smile. You loved your friends and were always the first to offer them a smile when they were down.

Your giving heart was connected to your smile. I remember that smile the day I found out you’d lost your coat. I was so angry thinking you’d just carelessly left it or had it stolen. When I finally got out of you that you’d given a girl on the street your coat because she was cold, I knew your heart was in the right place and I knew you were telling me the truth because I could see it in your smile.

You offered your smile to everyone. You were always sensitive about everyone else’s feelings, and offered that smile to lift them up. You never fought. Rather than hurt anyone, you worked to straighten things out to spare other’s feelings. When backed into a corner, however, you had courage to stand up for yourself.

While I will always treasure you in my heart as my own, I know your heart belonged to your son. You believed your greatest accomplishment was becoming a father, and it was the single most important thing in your life. You were scared at first, but you stepped up to take care of your son the way a father should, even though that meant having to quit school to help pay the bills. I was so very proud of you when you went back and got your GED, just as you had promised me. You were the kind of responsible role model a son should have, even though you didn’t have the role model of a father to follow when you grew up.

Being responsible is why you joined the Army. While you wanted to defend your country and keep do your part to keep it safe, you mostly joined for the opportunity to help your family and provide medical benefits for your son. You volunteered to give up a year with your family and deploy to Afghanistan as a way to help them.

Even in the Army, you were taking care of everyone else, keeping them safe. You asked me to buy special strapping at the Army Surplus and send it to you in Afghanistan because your buddies needed it so they could be safe. You were always there if your buddies needed something. You even signed on for another hitch because you all promised each other you would come home together.

That’s the only promise you didn’t ever keep, Dennis, and while we’d give anything to have you back, we understand why you did what you did. You only wanted a better life for your son, and just like when I couldn’t get mad at you for giving away your coat, I can’t be mad at you now. I just miss your smile so very much.

I will keep your memory alive. I will be sure your son knows who you were and what kind of father you were. I will keep your memory alive by putting wreaths on your grave, attending memorial services, and by putting your picture on a billboard. Whatever it takes, I will do everything I can to be sure the world never forgets your smile. I was then, and still am, so very proud of you.

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