For Dino…

I put a video together back in July for a class I was taking up in Oregon. Our assignment was to create a multimedia piece regarding an event that we had struggled through at some point during our life. Since Dino’s passing had only been about two months prior, I knew that I would be creating this piece in honor of him.

We were assigned to write a script explaining the scenario, record our own voice over, and then lastly, incorporate in a visual element. This was a small class of about 13 so naturally my professor required each student share his or her draft as we worked to create our projects.

The class designated to sharing the written scripts aloud had arrived. Not only do most consider public speaking to be nerve-racking in itself, but the added personal element to my piece intimidated me. My emotions were swelling as each student took turns reading through their piece to the class. Nearing the mark concluding the two-hour class I was the second to last student to read. I took a deep breath and began. Needless to say I couldn’t make it through more than two sentences before I was sobbing and could physically no longer speak. A girl in my sorority, bless her heart, offered to read mine aloud to the class. The teacher agreed. Allison began to read where I had left off and spoke no more than three sentences before having a similar reaction. With only ten minutes left in the class, my teacher offered to skip my reading and instead go straight to showing my finished piece to the class. I managed to crack a smile and thanked her for understanding.

Five days later at it was time. I had spent so much time reviewing and fine-tuning this video that the meaning of my own voiced words had practically stopped processing in my head. This wasn’t ideal for the goal of assignment, but it did boost my confidence in knowing I could show my project without having another awkward, break-down episode in front of total strangers.

My classmates watched my video with the lights off, while I stood at the back of the room and tried to read their perception of my work. Every head in the room was stationary. The video finished and I had made it through dry-eyed; only to turn on the lights and see a room of journalism students far from dry-eyed. As I awaited my share of constructive criticism, my teacher took nearly three minutes to catch her breath, wipe her nose and begin to speak. Putting all project logistics aside she said, “I wish I could have known that boy, he seems like an incredible person– You are lucky to have known someone who impacted your life in that way.”

I smiled subtly, because she was right, of course! She went on to express how something like Dino’s passing is the reason that journalism is a profession, and the reason why as humans, we study it. It is more than a college degree or an annual income; at its root, it simply reflects the importance of storytelling. She also shared how crucial today’s journalism is in keeping memories of those who have passed, alive–no matter how painful they may be to share.

While my classmates had nearly nothing to say about my video production skills, they had everything to say about your son. One by one, my classmates spoke up about his clothes, his name, his elaborate lifestyle and shared what they liked about him or how they felt they could relate to him. One boy later told me he had even heard the buzz of his name around campus during the past few weeks. (Talk about popular!) My classmates continued to express sympathy towards me but also envy; as to how they wish they could have personally met the beautiful person they had grown to know through our class workshops. My teacher later pulled me aside and thanked me for sharing and thanked me for allowing her and the other students to grasp a better understanding of why we need to keep journalism alive. Dino, of course, was that reason.

I did want to pass along the video as well and thank YOU and your sweet boy for inspiring me. Your son was truly an angel. Not only figuratively but in a literal sense as well. After the countless tears I have shed in his mourning, I have come to the comforting conclusion that Dino was put on this Earth to better the lives of those who somehow or another, came in contact with him, whether that meant being a mom, a best friend, or an estranged classmate.

In everything that Dino did, he exuded love. I WILL NEVER forget his electrifying smile or his ultra-charismatic dance moves. However, more importantly, I COULD NEVER– forget the way he made me feel. He made me want to smile and he sure as hell made me want to dance. And that is beyond rare. People like Dino seldom make an appearance in this life, let alone make themselves present in so many others

I could go on and on! But mainly, I hope you both never forget that you raised Dino into a man that no one could, nor will ever replace. As much as we will all deeply miss him, I think it is better that he is irreplaceable, for it’s the surest way of keeping him close to our hearts for eternity.

Dino has and will continue to change my life for the better. He had a greater purpose than most in this life.

There are no ways I could begin to express my thanks to you both for sharing his life with us. ” – Kristen MacDougald, Friend of Dino.