I know this seems counterintuitive.
I know it seems like I’m lying or trying to make things sound better than they were.
We all do that when someone dies. Don’t we? You could go to a funeral of the rudest cruelest human you’ve ever met, and they talk about him as though he was some sort of angel/hero dropped on earth by God Himself to save us all.
Denny always said he wanted someone to stand up at his funeral and say, “Well, he was kind of a jerk.” I mentioned this in my speech at the funeral, that he wanted this to be said. Honoring Denny’s wishes.
He never wanted people to talk about him like he was better than he actually was. I get that. Like when my grandma died, who I was very close to, I spoke at her funeral about how she was the worst cook and a terrible driver. But other than that she was pretty wonderful.
Denny definitely had his flaws. He could come across as a complete jerk. He was blunt and abrupt. In everything he was either conceited and overconfident (he was smart and he knew it, he was funny and he knew it, he was tough and he knew it) or he had zero confidence and felt completely inferior (he was never comfortable in his own body, he could never make enough money-no matter how much he made, he was never enough for himself-even though everyone else thought he was). Just a few examples.
He also was overdramatic and could get irrational really fast. For many years his income was based off of commission. If a month came where he made less than his own goal inside his head, he was ready to quit. Even if the month before he doubled his expectations. I could also tell him 5,000 times a day how amazing of a dad he was but if I told him one time that he wasn’t doing enough with the kids, it took away all 5,000 positive remarks and suddenly went as far negative as the sea is deep. These things never lasted for a long time, though. Most of the time he was very even keeled. Even when he was upset or frustrated, he was still pretty even keeled. His emotions never seemed erratic or out of control. He was proud of that…that he wasn’t very “emotional.” Obviously I knew he had more feelings than he shared no matter how hard I pushed, but he was like many men I know and wasn’t willing to go deep and open up.
That was definitely due to his dad’s abuse. His dad was cruel. He was ruthless. He would beat Denny until he stopped crying. He would tell Denny at 3 years old to “man up.” He made Denny watch him do horrible things. He constantly reinforced how worthless Denny was. It’s horrific. And Denny suffered a lot from it. His dad was around until age 14. The whole family was manipulated and abused by this man. If you can even call him a man. A good family with wonderful people who were just taken over by someone so cruel.
Denny worked through these things for many years. I’ve spoken before of how he self-medicated with alcohol and other addictions. He overcame that a few years before I met him. He spent many years throughout his life in therapy and reading self-help books. He just wanted to be better. He wanted to be so good. He never blamed any of this stuff on his dad, even if it could have been an easy way out. He always accepted full responsibility. He had the best heart and the strongest heart. He seemed resilient. Especially after all he’d been through.
When I met him, he was doing really well. He’d been sober for a few years. He had some eating disorder tendencies, and some obsessive behaviors. But that was the extent of it. In the years to come he had anxiety over medical things. Who wouldn’t after what he went through with his Crohn’s disease. I’ve mentioned this before but he would jokingly blame his Crohn’s disease on me. He didn’t get diagnosed until about 2 months after I met him. So I gave it to him apparently. He called it the “Dani Curse.” Because then over the next few years all of my family members including him would end up in the hospital for significant reasons. 4 of the 5 being on their death beds. I didn’t. So it was the “Dani Curse.” And yet he stayed with me. That’s true love people.
Hopefully you have seen how amazing Denny was through my other posts. My favorite is when people say they feel like they knew him. Or they admire how good of a person he was. Or how he seemed like such a fun and loving person. He was all of those things. And it’s a gift to me to be able to share that legacy with others. Despite all he went through, he was one of the best humans. Which is why I knew quickly after I met him that I could easily marry this man and have the happiest of lives with him.
And we did. We were happy. He really was. He always said he didn’t want to get married, but he still chose me and asked me to marry him after only a few months of knowing each other so, I guess that could be debated. We had fun together too. Before kids, we kind of lost all of our friends because we loved just being us two. We would do something every night with each other. We had our favorite tv shows, favorite types of movies, our favorite restaurants…Even though we had very different preferences, we found mutual favorites and stuck with those. And we had fun. There was a lot of teasing and silliness and playing. But there was also a lot of love and deep conversation. He told me so many things he had never told anyone. He really was my best friend in the truest sense of the word. He was the one I would call when I saw some funny meme on facebook that I HAD to tell someone about right that second or every time the kids would do something dumb or cute. I was the one he would call when he had the most insane customer or when he saw a crazy news story or just when he was bored driving to a different lot. My favorite was when he would take an Uber after dropping off a car somewhere. He didn’t want to talk to the uber driver so he’d call me and mention “Uber” so I knew to keep him occupied for the entirety of the trip.
Oh and he loved his job. He had worked as a partial owner of a dealership for over 8 years. Maybe 9. The dealership was called “Minivans Only.” And yep, you guessed it, they sold minivans. Big seller out here in Utah. It was part of a group of dealerships called Automaxx. Denny was good at his job. He was detail oriented. He was good with numbers. He was a good salesperson. He was honest and people appreciated it. Go look up the reviews on google. People loved him. But last year around this time, he got promoted to CFO of the entire company, Automaxx. He was sad about leaving his best friend who was his partner at Minivan (Thom from the podcast). But that was the only thing that made him hesitate. Otherwise, he was so excited to be CFO. He was one of the top and he was so proud of his position. He wouldn’t tell people his title because he didn’t want to brag. But he was so excited and happy to be where he was.
He was also so happy with his kids. He was the best dad. Have I mentioned that before? I’m kidding. But he LOVED coming home every day to his girls. We had a trip planned for me and the girls to go to the East Coast for a week or so and he was hesitant. Not because he didn’t want us to go. But he was legitimately going to miss us too much. He was sad about coming home from work and us not being there. He was so sweet with them. I miss watching that. I took several pictures a day of him interacting with the girls because it was so so sweet.
What I’m trying to say is that we were happy. He didn’t have depression. He had bad days like anyone else. But most days he was happy. He was fulfilled. In his job, in church, in his family, in his friendships. He was happy. He was not depressed. The family issues that came up triggered him. He went from 0 to 60 in a week. Really more like the two days before he disappeared. Go to the podcast with Rodney Norman on my media page. It gives more details on those few days. But he really wasn’t depressed before that stuff.
Does this scare you? It kinda should. Because here’s the thing…I really didn’t have warning signs. He wasn’t what you think of when you picture someone who dies by suicide. He wasn’t depressed for years and years. He wasn’t up and down emotionally. He was never abusive or mean or even raised his voice at me or the girls. Never ever. He had never disappeared as long as I knew him. He never talked about taking his life or not wanting to live anymore. There was none of what you assume. And this happens more often than you think. There are so many out there who will never show a “sign” before he or she takes their life. It’s not always what you see in movies. It’s not always a long drawn out thing. It’s not always someone who is even in a really bad place right before they die.
The lesson? Be proactive in your mental health. See a therapist as you would your doctor. When you have a hard thing happen in your life, go to therapy. Make a plan for success. Get into a support group. REACH OUT to the people you love and those who love you. Get on medication if you need medication. Be proactive. Because you are in charge of your own mental health. Other people are there to support you and help you but you have to make sure you’re in a good place mentally so that no matter what comes your way or happens in your life, you are ready to deal with it in a healthy way. I hope you’ll take this advice. I hope you’ll do whatever you need to keep your mind healthy.
Because he wasn’t depressed.
And he still took his own life.