Remembering Danny on October 31

October 28, 2016

Though your days here were brief,
   Your spirit was alive, awake, and complete.
   May you continue to inspire us:
   To enter each day with a generous heart,
   To serve the call of courage and love.”

                                                      -John O’Donohue

Intro to Our Boys

May 19, 2016


Sam and Danny never met but shared a passion for music, constantly playing guitar and singing by themselves and with friends and family. Diagnosed on the same fateful day – December 8, 2004 – but on different continents, they both died of cancer in 2007 – Sam in June in Somerset, England, and Danny in late October in Santa Barbara, California. Their love of music became a way to express themselves and to cope with the challenges that cancer presented.

While these two talented teenagers never met, their parents did! It started with an email Sam’s mother Jane sent to Jack Johnson’s website to let Jack know how his music was a constant companion to Sam in his final days. Her message was forwarded to Danny’s parents and a correspondence between the families about their sons began. In June 2015 Jane and Kevin McDonald visited Danny’s parents for few days. Many emotions were shared over those days, but the main theme was the love of their sons and the gifts that they were and will always be. On the last evening of their stay, Jane read a reflection she had written over the course of several months prior to their visit entitled “Our Boys.”

Click here to read Jane’s poem “Our Boys.

Stained Glass Impression

October 28, 2015

On the eighth anniversary of Danny’s death, we remember him with words from the late Irish writer/philosopher John O’Donohue and a stained-glass impression of Danny.

“Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.” -John O’Donohue


August 03, 2015

Danny’s sister Alicia interviewed Frank (their “Poppy”) for StoryCorps, and an excerpt was recently aired on NPR in Chicago. It includes some of Danny’s story.

Read here.

Gently Weeping Guitars

August 26, 2014

In the Beatles song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” written by George Harrison, the repeated words “Still my guitar gently weeps” echo as we recall musicians whose guitars were silenced by lives cut short. Their guitars almost weep as we hear them played on recordings left as treasures to grace the sounds of our lives.

Well-known guitar players such as Hank Williams, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Marley Emily Remler, and so many others live on in the melodies, chords, riffs, and notes their talent and love of the guitar brought to life.

Each one of us could add names to a long list that unfortunately keeps growing. Mine would include Danny, who lived long enough to master the guitar and write meaningful songs, too. One of Danny’s favorite songs was the late Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” (Grace album).


Whether they played acoustic or electric guitars, the music of artists who died too soon will always touch us. We hear their guitars gently weep for their loss but also lift our spirits as we graciously receive their musical gifts.