Easter was late that year, just like this year. Down in South Carolina, at Daniel's grandparents' home, the dogwood and azaleas were in vibrant bloom. Three-year-old Daniel was more interested in his Easter basket, an assortment of treats that he managed to eat without getting too much chocolate on his new Easter outfit.
We didn't know. No one, but God knows these things. Looking back, you see it all differently, putting emphasis on the curve of Daniel's smile, his genuine excitement, the awe his eyes portrayed as he and his older sister looked for dyed eggs.
Twelve years later, you view the scene through murky glasses with an odd rosy tint. You didn't know on that Easter, Easter 1996, that it would be the last one Daniel would ever find a colorful egg.
Yet, it was. Shortly after the chocolate was consumed, Daniel was diagnosed with a small blue cell tumor. I'd never heard of neuroblastoma before.
Daniel was a brave cookie. He thrived, much of the time, even though doctors insisted on filling his small body with radiation and chemo. The cancer had to die. In his hospital room, Daniel loved Toy Story, The Three Stooges and Little Foot and he really loved it when his parents brought him hotcakes from McDonalds.
Eight months worth of potent chemicals filled his body and worked to kill the poison in his neck. But in the end, those chemicals were what killed him, the little boy, that Brave Cookie.
I have four children. I hope that you will understand that while three of them continue to bring me joy here on Earth, one brings me hope in Heaven. He resides there now.
This Easter, once more, I am thankful that even cancer cannot destroy our souls. Death is swallowed up in victory. Daniel lives.