Goodbye to Dana Mullan

Dear Dana,

I am so sorry to have to say goodbye to you. We knew each other from school and church, sports and other community activities. I always admired how calm you were around your three energetic boys, and I wished I could be half as calm, raising just one.

I saw you two times on Sunday, the day you died. You were friendly to me, as always, at coffee break after church. Then at the clothing bank, we stood side-by-side and rummaged through kids’ pants and shirts. You told me how much better Terry was at finding clothes that fit the boys.

Not many people could come to my birthday party on July 12, exactly three months before you died. But you and the boys made it out to the celebration at Moran State Park. We sat on the fishing chairs with yours and Terry’s names on them, which the two of you had gotten for a wedding gift. You introduced me to your landlord who dropped by and gave us more firewood. We roasted marshmallows with Matthew, Michael, Christopher, and Skyler. After s’mores, we took a walk together at Mountain Lake. We talked with two girlfriends about motherhood, middle age, and children.

Last school year, your family and mine roller skated together at the school gym, where we shared conversation. One time you described to me how you were inspired to lose weight by walking. Another time you rejoiced that I got the job at Matthew’s school; of course I was honored to be your oldest son’s librarian.

I first met you at Kaleidoscope when I worked with your middle son, Michael, who always seemed so focused in his play. Little Christopher would come in sometimes too and slap me a high five. His contagious smile, even with a stitched up chin, always made me feel great—and adults are supposed to be the ones helping the kids develop self-esteem, not vice versa.

When I was first getting to know you, I wondered what kind of real job you had because you always dressed so nicely. It wasn’t long after that when my husband Doug came home from transferring our insurance to the local AllState and asked if I knew Dana Mullan. As our insurance agent, you would help us out when I hit a deer and later when our vehicle was involved in a hit-and-run.

I was still getting to know you last Halloween, when Skyler and I sat next to your family on the hayride at Camp Orkila. You were laughing at your husband’s jokes and his playfulness, and you seemed so in love.

You seemed so in love at your church too, which I started going to in April. Like a fidgety child who seeks guidance but is not willing to ask for it, I would watch you pray. I imagined God shining the light upon you so you could continue to nourish your positive, gentle spirit. You made so many of us feel welcome in your company and at your church.

You were my friend, Dana, and you always will be. My deepest sympathy goes out to your loved ones, especially to your grieving husband and precious sons who are left behind. God be with them. God be with us.

Claire Reutter

Deer Harbor