The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
June 21, 2002
A Tibetan Lama once said: We die not because we are ill but because we are complete. Illness is the occasion of our dying, but not the cause. My family would like to thank all of those who contributed their time and resources to make my sister's life as complete as it was. Danielle was able to gather the strength to live her life to the fullest from the time of her diagnosis until the moment of her death due to the friendship and love she received from so many of you. Friendship meant more to Danielle than money, her status in life or any possessions ever could. She displayed pictures of her with her friends and mementos from their times spent together on her walls just as others display trophies, awards and degrees. If you could measure a person's life in friendship, then my sister had the fullest life possible in the short time she was with us. If you could measure a person's life by the number of pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream that they ate, then you could say Danielle lived twice.
Since high school, Danielle's friends have always referred me to as Danielle's brother. It was never David, Dave, Double D or Big Drumke. It was always "You're Danielle's brother!" But it always bothered me that none of her friends could ever remember my name. It even began to get a little eerie. When I would travel across the country, people all over would stop me unexpectedly and ask, "Aren't you Danielle's brother?" I believe her friends called it the two degrees of Danielle Drumke.
One day my wife Kara brought me to the school where she taught first grade. While Kara was introducing me to the office staff as her fiance, a woman walked into the office and said "Drumke? Hey, don't I know you?"As my wife thrust her elbow into my ribs, the woman blurted out, "Wait a minute, don't you have a sister named Danielle?" I quickly answered, "Yes!"
It is no surprise that anyone who met Danielle would remember her. Her smile was contagious, her enthusiasm was infectious and her friendship and devotion were everlasting. After meeting so many of her friends and getting to spend time with them, what I discovered is this: Whether she was spending time with a friend in need; showing an incoming freshman the Smith campus; deejaying a party; huddled in a rugby scrum; going to a Pride parade or karaoking into the wee hours, Danielle with her unbridled enthusiasm always left a lasting impression.
I also realized that it wasn't that her friends couldn't remember my name but, each time they called me Danielle's brother, what they were actually saying was, "Hey, I met your sister Danielle, and I just wanted you to know the wonderful impact she has had in my life." I will always be touched when recognized as Danielle's brother wherever I go.
My sister took tremendous pride in being what those of you who attended Smith College call a Smithie. It fills my heart with great joy to know that a woman who might not be able to afford tuition to attend the college that Danielle loved so much, held so dearly and enriched her life so greatly will now have that opportunity. My family takes great comfort in knowing that through the Danielle Anne Drumke 1995 Scholarship Fund, my sister's spirit will live on by affording others the wonderful opportunities and experiences that enabled her to become that amazing person who touched us all so deeply.
Danielle, you are and will always be our superstar! And even though you are gone, the sun will rise again, but, it will never be quite as bright without you here.
I told my son Dylan that after he was born there was now room in heaven for his aunt. And now, Danielle, that you are finally there, please know that you are truly loved, you are sorely missed and that you will always be remembered.
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