To be honest, this week has been a pretty tough one for me. The biggest reason is due to the loss of a very good friend of mine. Her name is Dani and I’ve known her for nearly ten years. However, I’ve never actually met her. Dani and I met online but we became among the best friends for each other. Dani leaves behind her husband, son, and plethora of friends all over the world. I don’t believe that I will have the proper words to really do her justice. With Dani’s untimely passing on to the next life, this world is now a little dimmer.
I first met Dani around the time I first became an EMT. We were both active on #EMS Twitter and also had EMS blogs. We also were active on a forum called EMTLife. I don’t remember what the dispute was about but someone took exception to something she said and actually made a post on their blog to bully and try to discredit Dani. I challenged this person and defended her. It was around that time that we became friends.
Dani and I got to where we talked almost everyday. In getting to know her, we discovered that we both struggled with mental health issues and we forged a strong bond over that. Mental health struggles are really difficult for many people to understand simply because they have not had to deal with things like chronic anxiety and clinical depression. Dani was bipolar and understand all of that extremely well. We would frequently check in with each other to make sure that we both took our meds, and especially on our bad days, made sure we both did things like eat, brush teeth, and shower. Dani encouraged my advocacy on mental health issues and I encouraged hers. One of the things I’m most proud of for Dani is that she wrote a book called Beautiful Bipolar, which is a raw and real look into what her struggles have been like. Through this book, she has helped to shed light on darkness and to take away some of the stigma of mental health struggles. Dani’s refusal to allow bipolar to stop her from achieving her goals was one of the things I found most inspiring about her.
Like me, Dani appreciated humor and memes. Memes have a way of acting as a distraction for me when I need a break from life for a few minutes and they did for Dani as well. This was so much the case that she created a group chat in which we could exchange memes and talk to one another about life in general. In bringing this rag-tag bunch of people from literally all over the world together, she un-intentionally created an online family that has thrived and become an important part of the lives of the members. Daily, I have the opportunity to interact with people who I never would have met otherwise. I have gained perspective and even been able to do some Facebook pastoral care. Dani always had a way of bringing people together. I believe this is something she actually enjoyed… in addition to talking about some of the crazy alien conspiracy theories she would come across.
My favorite thing about Dani is how fiercely she loved her family and her friends. As far as she was concerned, her husband Jeremy and son Brayden hung the moon. So often I would send Dani a message to see how she was doing and she would tell me that she was at one of Brayden’s soccer games. Some of my favorite messages from Dani were stories of the shenanigans her grandmother “Oma” would be pulling. As Dani’s story has been told by those who knew her best, I found out that Dani once met someone at a convention and when her new friend became sick, Dani dropped everything and spent most of the rest of the day at the hospital with her to make sure she was alright. This is just who Dani Workman was and always will be to those of us who were blessed to call her a friend.
Of course, I can’t talk about Dani and not bring up one of the other bonds we shared: Grey’s Anatomy. Every week, we made a point to discuss each week’s episode. We both agreed that the show should have ended years ago but that we are all-in since we have watched Grey’s from the very beginning and must see it through. She even created a Grey’s group chat where we all received nicknames based on characters from Grey’s (She was Meredith and I’m George because, as she put it, “You’re just George. You can’t be anyone else.”). Our discussions of Grey’s are among my favorite memories of Dani.
I could go on about Dani and what she meant to me and others for a long time. As I mentioned near the top of this post, Dani leaving this world leaves it a bit dimmer. Dani made everyday better for every person she met and befriended. While Dani struggled, her fierce love and huge heart made her one of the best people I have ever known. If I needed to vent, she was glad to listen (or read as the case was). When I needed support, she gave it. If I needed to be called out, she was all too glad to call me out (and let’s be honest, I need to be called out from time to time). We sometimes disagreed. We once went over a month without talking because we had a disagreement and neither of us wanted to admit we were wrong (we did eventually reconcile). But Dani was an amazing person who overcame many obstacles that life threw at her. She had a way of bringing out the best in whomever she met. I see this in the group chat that she was instrumental in starting and that remains. The world is now a big darker but Dani’s memory inspires me and so many others to shine brighter as she would have encouraged us to do.
Until we meet again, friend.