An Open Letter — How Dan Helped My Brother to Walk
There are people in life that you want to celebrate and say thank you to. A friend of mine said the other day that he’s not sure about open letters, he doesn’t get them. Right now, it seems the most appropriate thing for me to write. I’ve never done it before, but I want to say a big thank you, and I’d like other people to know about it. So, I’m making it public! Here’s my open letter.
I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for you. I still remember the day vividly when you started walking around your office mimicking the walking of a disabled client that you had helped.
My heart leapt. All I saw before me, was an exact replica of my brother Stephen. You couldn’t have mimicked him more perfectly. I remember blurting out, “can you help my brother?” The prospect of him being able to walk around unaided seemed an incredible feat after 36 years. You had confidence you could do something to improve his walk, I couldn’t believe it when you said yes.
Even better, I smiled and cried as Mum told me with tears that he had got up and walked by himself right across the room without sitting down.
I was in NZ in July for work, I had had a busy time I hadn’t got to see my brother Stephen until the day before I left. I had a tiny window of time in the early evening to go and see him. Our ‘signature’ thing that we do, is that I take him for a ride in the car.
He was so excited to go for a ride, I also told him I didn’t have much time. He always moves quicker when there’s something exciting to do, but this was something else! I couldn’t believe how well he walked down the hallway, out the door, down the stairs, and into the car, basically unaided by me. He usually has his bottom pushed back into your legs as you guide him along. Not this time! The difference in the way he walked was marked and left an imprint on me. I thought of you.
That day is imprinted on my mind, his walking is imprinted. It’s the last time I saw Stephen. He passed away in his sleep a few weeks ago.
I was walking on the beach the other day, barefoot and reflecting on his life. I thought of his feet as the water swished around mine. I thought of you.
I especially asked if he could be buried with his orthotics. I look back at photos of him standing. For years he was so bent over when he walked, and he couldn’t go very far without wanting to sit down. Your kindness changed the quality of his life these past few years. Thank you.
Stephen is fully healed now, a new heavenly body. I can’t wait to see him again.
Loads of love
I love Dan’s heart. He wants to help people to give them a quality of life. He’s got a gift. He’s designed an orthotic that’s different to others. He told me a number of times over; “your mum is going to tell you Stephen needs orthotic boots and his ankle supported, tell her he doesn’t”. He helped me to explain to my mum the reasons for the change of shoe and the orthotic. Dan was right. He never even got to see my brother, he made an orthotic using photos, a video and a shoe size. Because of this, my brother started walking unaided, and I’m so grateful. So is the family. Thank you, Dan*.
Stephen was my amazing, tender, kind and loving brother. I will miss him. He loved cuddles (until he had had enough and then he would push you away), and he loved to laugh. I never realised that walking for Stephen would have been so painful, he never grumbled, he would simply stop in his tracks and sit down. Dan explained to me he would have been in pain. Dan was right. When he got his new shoes and orthotics, he started walking much, much, more and sitting down much, much less.