Friday, July 25, 2008


By Sue Crawford

As I banged on his door and then scrambled to find the key, I felt, instinctively, that there was something wrong, terribly wrong. As the door opened and I saw him on the floor, I knew right away that he was dead. Looking back, I wish that I had knelt down to pick him up off the floor, but I was afraid. What I wouldn’t give now to hold my son in my arms just once more, to run my fingers through his hair, to press my cheek against his.

No Question Left Behind is dedicated to the memory of Danny Davis who was my son. I want to share with you a little bit about his life, and his death.

Danny was a normal kid; his life filled with disappointments as well as joys. He didn’t always make the team or get the girl, yet he stood out from the crowd. You couldn’t help but be drawn to him, even if you had only met him once. Some say it was his infectious smile, while others say it was his eyes. I say it goes much deeper than outward appearance. Mostly, I think, it was the way in which he opened his heart to reach out to people. He made everyone feel important when he talked to them. In fact, he often chose the underdog for his friends. I think this was because he wanted to help them find the power to believe in and love themselves.

Strong in spirit and strong willed, Danny wanted to leave a legacy. While, the legacy that he left was not the one he desired, it is one I am confident he would want you to learn from, especially if you are facing challenges and difficult decisions in your life.

Danny was a leader, not a follower. Though he struggled to fit in during his grade school days, he blossomed as he reached junior high school. He learned that it was okay to be himself and that he didn’t have to live up to someone else’s idea of who he should be. So many kids are afraid of what other kids will think about them, but not Danny. He believed in himself and it showed.

Danny wasn’t afraid to let everyone know that he was a spiritual person. He loved God and the Catholic Church, and he didn’t hide that fact in order to gain popularity points. It was this honesty that drew people to him. His high school friends felt comfortable in banding together with Danny to praise God. They would attend Mass and worship together. Those who didn’t agree with Danny’s religious beliefs still respected him deeply because he stood tall for who he was.

To Danny respect was a two-way street. He would never have put someone down for disagreeing with him. He would have never dreamed of judging another person’s soul. If he saw that your life was heading tragically down the wrong path, you could count on him to be there to help you pick up the pieces.

This is a beautiful example to follow. Band together with your friends. Build up one another so that no one has to be afraid to admit to their deepest-held convictions. People will respect you when you stand up for what is right. More importantly is that others who believe as you do will step forward, no longer afraid, as there is power in numbers.

This is not enough though. You need to go beyond believing in your friends and care enough to help them when they make mistakes. Be strong enough to speak up when you see a friend messing up or to stand up for him when someone else is putting him down. It is not judgmental when you say, “This is wrong and I want to help you.” They will know you love them, for this is true friendship.

Open your heart and let God in. When Danny and his brothers were little, we would all attend Mass together on Sundays and holy days. I had a sense that my three sons were more spiritual than me. They had a child-like love for God that I was missing. I am jealous of people who have been close to God all of their lives. There is nothing more beautiful than the innocent faith of a little child, and it is an awesome thing to watch that simple faith grow into a deeply-seeded faith of a teenager and a young adult. I was lucky to witness this through my sons.

Let others, your family and friends alike, witness the beauty of your faith. Teens can learn about the love of God from other teens. I think that is why the book that you now hold in your hands is of such importance. I love No Question Left Behind because it is all about young people helping one another. Danny would have loved this book too. It’s an important book for you to read, and to share with friends, because it is written by your peers, young people from 14 to 23; from public school, private school, and homeschool; male and female. All these young people have opened their hearts to you. They are not ashamed to hold their heads up high and shout, “I love Christ and His Church!”

While my son Danny wasn’t afraid to make this proclamation, he occasionally closed his mind to God’s plan for his life and made mistakes, one big mistake in particular. His entire life changed one night at a college party. A close friend offered Danny drugs. I do not believe that Danny said yes in order to fit in with the crowd, that wasn’t like him at all, but simply because he was always trying new things. He loved a challenge. Unfortunately, this was not a challenge that he was up to facing.

Giving into temptation, just one time, created a drug addiction. Drugs became such a powerful force in Danny’s life that only God could fix it. Some of Danny’s friends, and even a few parents, knew of his struggles. Sadly, none stepped forward to tell me. If you have a friend who is struggling with serious issues, please don’t sit by as they self-destruct. I can tell you without a doubt that if Danny were alive today, he would say the very same thing. As Alex points out on the pages of this book, you sometimes need to ask yourself if the friend or the friendship is more important. Real friends share the Truth. Are you a real friend?

Danny died of an overdose on August 22, 2003 at the age of twenty-two. I honestly don’t know what difference it would’ve made had I been given the opportunity to help my son beat his addiction, but I never want another parent to live with that “what if” scenario. If you know of someone on drugs, TELL. If you are the one on drugs the advice is the same, TELL.

Most of Danny’s friends had no knowledge of his drug use. His old high school chums, the ones who shared his love of Christ, were stunned by Danny’s death. They couldn’t understand how their friend, who they all looked up to, could make such a wrong decision. It was these friends that he needed to tell.

I know from Danny’s journal, found after his death, that he was struggling to quit on his own. He did not abandon God; instead he was desperately praying for His intercession. If only Danny had seen that God had already given him resources to beat his addiction. God gave him loving parents, brothers, extended family, and friends, who would have traveled to the ends of the earth to help him.

There are times when I wonder if God called Danny home when He did because Danny’s addiction was more than he could handle. Perhaps, had he lived, the suffering would have been more than he could bear. It may have been that at the moment of his death, Danny was most ready to meet God. I take great comfort in knowing that God is merciful and that He loves my son more than I ever could, and that He took Danny away from his suffering and into paradise.

Learn from my son’s story. Learn to stand up for what is right. Be strong in saying no to temptation, for even one yes can change your life forever. (As The Lord's Prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”) You have the ability to reach out to others when they are troubled. If you cannot reach them, then go to their parents. God gave you the gift of one another – friends, fellow parishioners, religious, counselors, teachers, and parents. I deem it important, on Danny's behalf and in the love of his memory, that you know that you can always count on an adult when you, or a friend, are in trouble. Don’t worry about being judged, instead know that you hold the power within yourself to reach out. As you will read in No Question Left Behind, it all begins with prayer.