Happy Birthday, Danielle

To My Darling Daughter Danielle Anne:

Ten years ago today at sunup you died and left all of us behind to carry on with our lives without your shinning presence, your love and affection, and your unending wisdom.

Some days I still think that you are living in San Francisco and working at Square Trade. I reach for the phone to call you so that I can share some news or just check in with you, but then I remember that I really can not communicate with you by regular methods. I so miss that part of our relationship. I miss being able to give you hugs and kisses, but my love for you continues. It does not matter how long you are gone, there is an empty part in my heart that is always there.

I always wonder what you would be doing now. Would you have a daughter named Danielle? You always said that you wanted to have only daughters and you would name them all Danielle and that they would all attend Smith College. Would you be serving in the house or Senate either at the state or federal level? Would you be a leader in the Occupy Movement? And of course how many friends would you have on Facebook? There is so much you would have accomplished if you had only be given the gift of time.

On Monday Dylan and I had dinner together and he was asking me about you. Kayla tells me that Michael always tells her she is just like her Aunt Danielle. When I am with your nieces Kayla and Lillian I see your personality coming through so clearly. Your nephews Dylan, Matthew, Max and Luca also share a lot of your traits. This is how you live on for me. You would have loved being with them and they would have loved being with their Aunt Danielle.

On June 21st you would have celebrated your 39th birthday. How I wish that I could buy your favorite birthday cake from Tag’s Bakery and share it with you. Maybe I will get the cake anyway in your honor. I think you would like that.


I promise you will never be forgotten.

With all my love,


Happy Birthday, Danielle

Dear Friends,

Today, on Danielle's 35th birthday, we thought we'd send you some news along with messages for Danielle (who knows, maybe she gets them).

The most amazing thing to report is that in January, the Danielle Anne Drumke Scholarship Fund reached the $100,000 mark! Our goal was always to endow the scholarship (provide enough principle so that the scholarship could be awarded year to year from the interest earned). When we set it up, none of us honestly knew how we'd raise such a large sum. But it's happened, and we are so grateful to all of you who have made contributions over the past six years. This scholarship was Danielle's last request, and thanks to you, it's now going to be a lasting reality.

More news: For those of you who don't regularly read Glamour magazine (Pippa, I know you are a devotee), you may be interested in picking up the September issue because Danielle is going to be featured in it! (I've just written an essay for the magazine about the last five months we spent together.) Funny to think of Danielle in Glamour, I know. But I bet she'd get a serious kick out of it. The September issue will be on the newsstands sometime in August.

We're so thankful to everyone who has stayed in touch with us over the past six years, and we hope you will continue to share your news.

With continued gratitude,

and Joey; David, Kara, Dylan and Matty; Michael, Jody, Kayla and Max; and Sandy

Happy Birthday Baby!

We miss you terribly. The hardest thing is not having you around to see and play with and influence Kayla and Max. Kayla is like you in so many ways. She's outgoing and boisterous, and she takes over a room whenever she enters it. She is artistic and creative too. You would love her, and I know that she would so enjoy having her Aunt Danielle to play with.

And Max is developing a really impish personality. He laughs and smiles all the time, and he spreads joy exactly the way you did. He's not shy either. The other day I got home early and Max came in from outside. He was looking flushed and was thirsty. He was about to go down for his afternoon nap and usually gets milk beforehand. He walked right up to me and said, "Daddy, juicy please." I looked at him and said, "How about some milk, Maxie?" He then looked right at me and said, "How about some juicy, Daddy!?"


Michael, Jody, Kayla and Max

It seems appropriate, that on what would have been Danielle's 35 birthday, we reflect on the many ways that her beautiful spirit still touches us today. In the past year we have seen too much death in our family. As hard as it was to say goodbye to Ron, Jim and Dorothy, we had some comfort knowing that Danielle would be there to greet them with her infectious smile and soothing voice saying, "Follow me now. I'll show you the way."

It's hard to admit that even 6 years later the loss is still great and painful. Not a day goes by that we don't think how much Danielle would have enjoyed something. What keeps us going is remembering all her wonderful stories, her terrible jokes, her hilarious imitations, her joyful dancing, her exuberant singing and her terrific hugs.

Make no mistake. Although she's not here for us to see she's still weaving her web of influence. There are so many things we see everyday that show how Danielle continues to watch and care. We see it in Dylan's identical smile—the one that means I know I did something naughty, but when I flash you my grin you're going to think I'm too cute to care! We see it in Matty's dancing and singing. I believe he is probably the only 2 year old in the world who knows all the words and moves to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" on Guitar Hero! We see it in our own sense of calm in the midst of chaos, something is there telling us everything will be all right (do I need to even bring up Obama?). So today, we hope you will join us in wishing Danielle a very happy birthday and continue to keep her in your thoughts. You will be amazed at how she continues to be a part of your lives too.

By the way, the first picture here is Matty climbing on a box with his microphone, ready to perform. Who does that remind you of?


David, Kara, Dylan and Matty

Dear Danielle,

Guess what? Aimee Gross just had a baby boy. He was born on June 14 (Joey's birthday). She and Kendra are going to have a baby-naming ceremony today, on your birthday, which seems appropriate because they've named him Jesse Daniel, and the Daniel is for you.

Speaking of kids, we're expecting one too, due at the end of August. Don't know if it's a boy or a girl (Joey thinks girl, I think boy), but here it is, and for sure it has your nose.

I just wrote an article about you for Glamour (I bet you'd love that). The editor and fact checker ended up calling a bunch of times thinking they needed to clarify things I'd written. Our conversations went like this: "Okay, you've written, 'On the first day of classes during her sophomore year, Danielle walked into a full lecture hall, and, finding no professor and a live microphone at the podium, took advantage of both, singing "I Will Survive" for her classmates. The professor showed up mid-song, but Danielle refused to hand over the microphone until she'd reached the end.'. Now, it's just a little confusing because she didn't actually refuse to give the professor the microphone, did she?" And I would say, "Oh yes, she did!" We spent a lot of time laughing.

We miss you terribly, and as hard as it is to imagine that we're going to have a baby soon, it's even harder to imagine that he or she won't get to play with you—or better, tag along to karaoke bars.



Dear Danielle,

I find it hard to believe that today would have been your 35th birthday. At times I imagine you living and working in San Francisco, and I go to pick up the phone to call you only to realize that you are gone. I then imagine all the wonderful things you would have accomplished during the past 6 years. I picture you working hard to elect Obama President and to fill the House and the Senate with members of the Democratic Party.

I find comfort in seeing your personality come through in Dylan, Kayla, Matthew, and Max. They are sweet, smart and very funny, just the way you were.

You are missed by everyone who came in contact with you. Five babies have been named for you, such a very special honor. The website continues to flourish, and the scholarship at Smith is now endowed. I hope that somehow you know how important you were and continue to be to everyone who ever knew you.

Happy Birthday.

I love you,


home * guest book * contribute * updates * in her own words * in memory * album * medical links