Funny, father, momma’s boy, lover, loyal,
Daniel was a handsome, confident, strong-willed and loving man. The rough childhood that he experienced made it difficult to imagine the more normal life he wanted, but he was determined to do better and be the kind, gentle man that was never modeled for him. He just wanted to belong and be loved.
Daniel loved fishing, though he didn’t get to do it much, he also enjoyed keeping up on the news by reading the daily newspaper and watching news on television. He liked football and basketball, getting tattoos, and showing off his “no hands” bike riding skills. He could spontaneously create rap lyrics and even in the course of a normal conversation, he might answer a question with a rap response. Most of all, he relished spending time with his girlfriend, Jessica, and their son Michael.
Daniel worked in construction, roofing and masonry and was proud of the OSHA certification that he received in all three. He looked forward to marriage, being a good husband and provider and raising his son in a loving home.
Jessica’s favorite memory of Daniel was from their first night together as a couple. They tried making some chicken, putting it into the oven directly from the freezer. She said: “We laughed so hard trying to make our first dinner as a couple, we failed miserably, and went out for fast food.“ ‘Now we know there is no skipping the defrosting step.’
Daniel was a wonderful support to Jessica, as she was getting sober. Even when they were living what she described as a “terrible life” and she was at rock bottom, he was there for her. “He was alongside me and never left, he loved me, supported me and didn’t judge me.” “Daniel always made me feel loved, pretty and made me laugh,” Jessica said. She misses his dimples, his touch, how their bodies fit perfectly together, his beautiful eyes and his clever rap lyrics and dancing.
Life was difficult when Daniel and Jessica were living in active addiction together, and hard in a different way once Jessica was sober. She felt the effects that addiction had on others: “I never want to make my loved ones feel the way I do now.” “Daniel was a special man,” Jessica said, “I know he could be seen as someone wasting away in the world of drugs, but it wasn’t like that.” ‘He was strong, a leader, he knew what he wanted, and he was honest, loyal and faithful to me. He was seeking a better life.’
Daniel spent two years in prison, but no drug treatment was provided and he started using three days after his release and died two months later. “The system needs to do better with those who have substance use disorders,” Jessica said. ‘There was no help in prison, he got thrown back out on the streets right where he left off.’
“Now I am just numb, and I wonder what I am going to tell our 2-year-old son when he is old enough to understand,” Jessica said. ‘I want Daniel’s story to be heard, he had a heart, he was my love, and I want to help get rid of the stigma around drug addiction by sharing his story.’
Daniel’s girlfriend, Jessica Burkhart, provided the information for this narrative.
December 8, 1989-July 22, 2020
Age 30-Lived with addiction 3 years