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You know, I've seen this poem so many times to the point of it being cliché. It even used to make me a little angry at times, I thought it was kind of glib and dismissive of the real pain that death causes to those left behind.

But it makes a lot more sense to me now. Dan never wanted to speak of dying or sickness. It wasn't just about not complaining or being a burden (though he definitely was one of the most positive, patient, kind, and selfless people I have ever known). It was about living life to the fullest while he still could, about concentrating on life and joy and wonder. He told me once that his favorite quote was Horace's Ode 1.11, also known as the "carpe diem" speech - in his own words: "...So the idea is to carpe diem — seize the day and treasure what it has to offer. Who knows what tomorrow brings? Enjoy today!"

Finding out the story behind the poem too means a lot; it was apparently written to comfort a woman who had found out that her mother had died and she could not return to her home country to be able to mourn her.

I spent some time alone out in the desert this weekend under a canopy of billions of stars, and I found him there (he loved NASA and space exploration). I think of him now when I see an airplane pass (he was obsessed with aviation and one of the few deaf people in the world to hold a pilot's license). I hope to make it back to Alaska some day, and I know I will see him in the diamond glint of the snow, and in the chilly Arctic winds that blow right through you.

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