In honor of Declan
Marc Anthony Rosa | Friday, October 29, 2010
In a noisy Fisher quad so recently visited, the dim lights shed evidence of a sea of young students, shouting and joking just audibly above the buzz of sharply selected music. A white MacBook endlessly streams a random bootlegged copy of some obscure movie that nobody has ever heard of, save for one person. The classmates collect all over the quad sharing stories of the hilarious day-to-days of each other, the friends swimming in the quad amidst a freshly-painted mosaic of random film books and beer can pyramids, collections that chalk up evidence of hard work and a successful party thrown the week prior. As the laughter increases and the music buzzes, I can’t help but direct my smile to the center of the room. I’m drawn to the goofy, sprawled out Declan Sullivan as he so smiles with the sincerity and confidence unique to a lost generation. For that moment, I feel at home.
This moment no longer exists. That vivid, seemingly uncharacteristic memory of a brief moment in time has since come and gone. The party died down long ago, and what should remain in the center of the room has now turned into a memory held by the few so fortunate. An individual with unexplainable talent and limitless growth is no longer with us. Declan, the product of creativity and a yearning to share a vision, is now the victim of another moment in time. This time, the lights are off. The room is silent. All that remains is a memory.
As I sit here writing this, silently fighting back vicious waves of emotions on every point of the spectrum, I’m surprisingly comforted. Declan had an uncharacteristic confidence that can’t be described through any normal standards. He recognized the realities of life and sought true happiness through the pursuit of that which matters most: family, friends, experiences and lasting memories. We as Notre Dame students search for meaning by subjecting ourselves to systems and standards and place unconscionable amounts of pressures on ourselves to succeed. Just like Declan, we are brought into this world to experience the true wonders of life, the miracles that have absolutely nothing to do with the trivialities us as Notre Dame students know all too well. We do this all with the hope in the back of our minds that these tests, homework, competitions and projects will somehow bring us closer to feeling “right,” that working hard in a system valued as true will bring the truth we so desperately crave, the same truth Declan lived every day in his live. We rely so much on success through the perspectives disciplined by years of self-conditioning that it has to take tragedies like this for all of us to stumble back and ask what just happened.
As Ferdinand Foch once wrote, “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” I reflect back on my fantastic memories with Declan here at Notre Dame, and I can’t help but smile. Much like Declan did in the center of that crowded room in one of the hundreds of moments with my friend, I’ve got a smile on my face and a laugh in my heart, because Declan, wherever he may be, knows that I finally see what he’s seen his entire life. It’s the drive to seek success through family, friends, experiences, and lasting memories that gave Declan the fire in his soul to become an unquestionably powerful figure for all who dared to know him. A presence encountered but for just a moment.
The noisy Fisher quad comes back to life; the lights and music jump right back on. The students suddenly return to crowd a noisy quad, laughing and sharing stories much like before. While we stare to the center of a room that’s seemingly vacant, we share true laughter for the first time, smiling with the sincerity and confidence that is no longer unique to us anymore. We see Declan smiling back with that goofy smile and ridiculous laugh, made palpable by the many moments with a friend who stood for something so much bigger than us. As we look to each other and emulate Declan’s goofy smile, we’re all at ease, because we understand for the first time. We’re finally home.
God bless Dec, we’ll forever love and miss you. We know you’re home too.
Marc Anthony Rosa