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Scene writer Shane Steinberg: ‘An individual in the truest sense of the word’

Shane Steinberg | Friday, October 29, 2010

A sign outside of 443 Fisher Hall reads, “Declan Sullivan, Class of 2012.” The sign, a montage of the most whacky — most Declan-esque — pictures his friends could put together, hangs bottom right, next to five similar signs, including my own.

He was and forever will be a dear friend of ours, because through it all — his legend status during Frosh-O, his invention of “the bus driver” dance, his countless “isms” that could give Yogi Berra a run for his money and all the other memories that now stand suspended in time in our hearts — he was one of us; the “wild card” of our group, ala “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” and we love him for that.

I came to know Declan through a line from one of his favorite films, “American Beauty:” “There is nothing worse than being ordinary.” Declan loved film: the art of how a camera dances at the head of a scene, producing images, that when put together take us to another place and time if only for a moment and make us feel something more than the ordinary. He hoped to inspire that same kind of wonder through his own filmmaking, and it was here at Notre Dame where he cultivated his interest into a talent that dared to be on the edge and would always put a smile on audiences’ faces.

At the heart of it all, Declan was a soul wild at heart. To know him was to know an individual who struck a beautiful balance between being fun-loving and constantly driven. When life gave him lemons, instead of making lemonade, he made vodka sour. He was an individual in the truest sense of the word. In the end, there was only one Declan.

It’s so hard to think and try to process the reality that Declan is gone. How do we remember someone who made such an impact on our lives when deep down it doesn’t feel like he’s gone, perhaps because the shock of it all makes us cling to the hope that he’ll poke his head through the door?

I think the answer lies in a toast Ray Romano gave at his brother Robert’s wedding in “Everybody Loves Raymond:” Editing. Yes, editing. To remember a person is to remember a sum of so many parts — our experiences with, our perceptions of, and everything we associate with that person. In thinking back on Declan, however, it’s a series of memories that most readily come to mind, not everything, but the fond memories of a friend who I cared deeply for. Everyone will remember about Declan what they want to remember. For each of us, his friends, his family, and all the members of the Notre Dame community, there are a set of memories that will shape how we remember him. Editing is how we dive through the many pictures we have and decide which ones to keep. We throw out some and keep the others — the good ones — just the good ones.

Shane is a junior who lived with Declan in Fisher Hall and has written for the Scene section since his freshman year.

Contact Shane Steinberg at ssteinb2@nd.edu