Here’s a beautiful tribute from Dani:
PLEASE take a few minutes to read this if you are a friend of mine or a friend of Denny ❤️
I don’t exactly know what to say but I feel like i need to say something. I am broken. My husband, Denny, very unexpectedly took his own life yesterday. I am not afraid of the word suicide and I’m not ashamed to say that is what happened. Denny was the best man. I knew more about him than anyone in this world. But even then, he struggled with depression and anxiety that I had absolutely no idea about. He has dealt with this on and off his entire life and was so good at hiding it to protect those around him. He was not struggling even a week ago and just in very recent days showed there was some internal turmoil. He was brutally honest in every way except this one, because he was trying to protect me and his little girls.
I am in shock. I keep finding myself using the words weird and wonderful to describe him. He had every excuse of a difficult life to have an over abundance of failures. But he never used those excuses. He always took accountability if he made a mistake and did whatever he could to fix it. As his best friend said yesterday, he was never shy about telling people what he was and wasn’t good at. When I told him (many many times) that his joke wasn’t funny, he would just very clearly state “You have a bad sense of humor then because I know I’m hilarious.” (He usually was hilarious). He was 5’ 3 and 3/4” and would tell people exactly that because he was short, was not embarrassed, and “didn’t want to give people false expectations” of him being 5’4”. We are the pasty blonde blue-eyed short family who had to have a step stool out 24/7 since we couldn’t reach the top shelf (or the one below that).
When we met, I was kind of in awe to see a grown man so short. I also have an abundance of brutal honesty and told him, “If I date you, I don’t know if you can protect me because of your size.” That feeling did not last long. I knew within days that if anyone ever messed with me they would regret that decision into eternity(and he has even more ability to haunt you now so don’t mess with me). I also told him on our very first date, “I want to get married and have babies so if you don’t want that, don’t ask me out again.” And here we are.
Everyone who knew Denny pre-Dani said that although he was already an incredible human, when I came into his life he became even better... and better and better. I hope that’s true. He wanted kids more than he’d ever wanted anything in life (truly), and figured I’d be a really good mom so might as well put a ring on it. I always thought he loved our girls WAY more than he could ever love me. And I was okay with that. I loved seeing him be a father and I’m not exaggerating when I say he was the best dad. Never has there been a human man who has loved his children so fiercely and wholly. But I now know that somehow he loved me even more than that. He left me a note that I’ll share someday that made that clear. He was my best friend and my love.
I have, as I’m sure many know, had many trials in life. Denny accepted me with all of the baggage and was my rock through everything. He sustained me and held me up. He took over as sole parent when I couldn’t do it that day (or the next). He was always so strong for me and never wanted to let me down. I didn’t realize until now how much he did to protect me and to strengthen me. Whatever you believe, I believe that loved ones are there to help us after they leave earth. He said he would be here in his notes. What is so amazing to me is that even though I have almost never “felt” my mom around since she passed away, and just didn’t think that was something I had a gift for, I have felt him non stop since about 15-20 minutes after the police officers told me. I really feel like he’s sustaining me. And I know there’s a lot of shock and I will try to stay in that stage as long as possible, there is also a lot of peace. His mom feels it too. We just know he’s happier than he was ever able to be in this life.
I’m broken, but I’m strong. I’m wanting to fall apart but am sustained. I know I can do this. And I know feelings will come and go and I will go through the entire gamut. But I am grateful to feel the way I do now and to know without a doubt that stubborn Denny is not leaving my side for the next little while and is going to help me get through somehow.
Friends and loved ones of mine and of Denny’s (even those of you who I undoubtedly heard insane stories about but never had the opportunity to meet), I have no pride right now. I am going to accept as much help as I can get and I hope this amazing group of humans can help me through this. I need to be around people who knew Denny especially right now. Even if I never met you, reach out to me or to Thom or to any of Denny’s siblings or mom or whoever and get my address and please come stop by in the next few days. I need people to tell me funny stories and let me talk about him and the weird things he said and the amazing things he did. I need you people. Please reach out. Please come visit. And try not to be offended if I cannot piece together who you are right now, he had so many people in his life. Please be a part of my life and my little girls life in whatever capacity you can for the rest of our lives. They are little and will forget or just not remember. It’s inevitable. I need you to help me keep his influence around. Iowa friends, friends during is “rough” phases of life, those who knew him from work or church or comedy or karaoke or bowling... please come tell me your stories and let me talk your ear off and tell you how amazing he was (not like you don’t already know). Please let me record these things so I can share (the appropriate ones) with W and P someday (but I still want to know the inappropriate ones). I don’t want to talk about details of the last few days right now so please don’t ask. I also don’t want a lot of kids around right now, so please keep them home, but still find a way to visit me. I don’t need food or anything besides Diet Coke and love. If you would like to help in other ways, I’m not exactly sure yet what I will need. But please reach out again in a month, three months, a year. Set a reminder in your phone and text me. I know I will need all of the help I can get.
We are hoping to have the funeral on Saturday, March 30. I will soon update with more details as those are worked out. Please attend, no matter where you are. It will be the weirdest, funniest, most unique, Star Trek themed party.
Denny has a tough exterior and although he was short in stature, was very intimidating to people. I hope to share how much he LOVED even though he couldn’t say it. I surprisingly feel him supporting me in this even though when he was here he refused to let most people see that sweet side of him. If you feel any type of guilt or regret, reach out to me. He didn’t have many grudges or resentment unless you hurt me or his girls or his mom or someone he loves. I want to tell you that he loved you and that he wasn’t upset about whatever it is you’re feeling so much guilt about now. I have already had several people tell me things like that and I hope I was able to put their mind at ease. In something like this, everyone blames themself for something. And even though he clearly told me this was not my fault and in his struggling mind and heart he felt this was his only way to protect us, I need people to remind me of this. I know this in my head but I need to be reminded of it a million times for it to stick in my heart that none of this was my fault in any way.
If you have made it through this post, thank you. Thank you for being a part of my life and a part of his life. Thank you for your future undoubted goodness and constant kindness and influence you will show me and my girls. Thank you for promising yourself that you will make sure you stay a part of our lives and help these girls know their dad.
If you reach out and I have not responded, I have once again been overwhelmed with love and messages of love, even more so than when my mother died just over a year ago. I want you to know that I do read every message and I am so grateful for every one. I need them and I will continue to need them. And once things settle down, I hope I will be able to tell each of you how grateful I am. If you found out about this through this post, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to get the word out personally to everyone.
I am sitting here in bed after getting less than 6 hours of sleep in the last three days in Denny’s golden girls shirt and sponge bob pants with king of queens in the background and our sweet chubby baby next to me. And I feel so blessed. I feel so so so blessed that I even got him for 5 1/2 years. I am so lucky. I wish so so so so deeply that it was more. I wish he would have reached out to me. I wish he would have told me what was going on in his mind. He told me so much and shared so much with me, but I wish he would have shared this one part of him that he never shared with anyone. If you relate to this, reach out. To me to your loved ones to a suicide hotline to ANYONE. Please don’t do this to anyone else. I want to do whatever I can to prevent this even happening to one more family. No matter how many times I told him I loved him and how wonderful and amazing he was, he had a block there that couldn’t see it. If you feel this way, don’t make a decision you can’t take back. Although I feel a great amount of peace and strength, I WOULD DO ALMOST ANYTHING TO GO BACK IN TIME AND HAVE HIM HERE. If you feel like no one is there for you, I am. Talk to someone. Get it out. Everyone needs therapy at some point in their lives. If you have a chemical or hormonal imbalance, do not be afraid to take medication. This is a sickness just like any other- diabetes, cancer, Crohn’s disease (that Denny suffered from)... you have to take medication or go to therapy or whatever it is to heal your body. It’s possible and there is hope. Don’t take yourself away from your loved ones. Please think of me and my girls and realize there are people in your life who need you too.
What a beautiful, crazy, unique, kind, funny, inappropriate, generous, unselfish, and loving man he was. I now can’t wait to brag about him and tell you all about the other wonderful facets of his personality that he pretended weren’t there because they didn’t coincide with his excess of masculinity.
He said in his notes something to everyone in our lives that I want to share. He put one sentence, “Everyone else-remember the good.” He had so much good. All of us have baggage and things to deal with, but he honestly had more good at his core than any man or woman I have ever known. Remember that. Honor him by doing that. And please share all of it with me so that I can do the same and whatever I can to help these girls really know their dad.
I know he was welcomed by his grandparents who he idolized, my mother who adored him, my grandma Nina who pretended to laugh at his jokes when she definitely didn’t get them, my grandma Israelsen who would always “close talk” to him and tell him how perfect we were together. But most importantly, he was welcomed by the loving arms of our Savior and our Father in Heaven. He fell straight into their arms and for the first time was able to see how truly loved he is.
Please reach out to me
Or through Denny’s phone
Love, Dani “AllStar” Bates
- Matthew Mann
- Brandy Reeder
- Terri-Anne Dickinson
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