Children's Hospital
On Science and Hope and Why Things Don’t Have to Be
Steven Marcus, January 28, 1998

Emily and I have a simple message for everyone, but especially for Daniel's classmates and friends because they have more years available to them. This is what Daniel in his broken heart would ask of you: "Don't invest your energies complaining to God, find out why this happened and stop this."

Carl Sagan wrote in his last book before his recent death about Science as a candle in the dark. We imagine that Daniel, if he had the chance and the ability to write with such power, would have written this:

I was a child in a time of hope. I wanted to be a scientist from my earliest school days. The crystallizing moment came when I first caught on that the stars are mighty suns, when it first dawned on me how staggeringly far away they must be to appear as mere points of light in the sky. I'm not sure I even knew the meaning of the word "science" then, but I wanted somehow to immerse myself in all that grandeur. I was gripped by the splendor of the Universe, transfixed by the prospect of understanding how things really work, of helping to uncover deep mysteries, of exploring new worlds.
To Daniel's classmates and friends: you have a precious gift of years to come. You have experienced in our son's loss a tragedy that science will one day be able to prevent. It is in the hands of your generation. By gaining and applying a deep understanding of science, each of you here today have the opportunity to help us end these sudden deaths.

Because we are human and because the Universe is so vast, there will always be more that we can learn. Each generation that adds to our body of scientific knowledge helps us move closer to easing the next generation's pain. I want this to sink in for those of you that might be turned off to science. I'll say it again: Each generation that adds to our body of scientific knowledge helps us move closer to easing the next generation's pain. One or more of you sitting here this morning might be inspired by this calamity, by our pain and the pain of our community, to dedicate your career to science. If this is happens, maybe you can be the one to finally stop Daniel's pain…the breaking of Daniel's heart. We are asking each of you, don't just wish and pray this ends, work in science and make this end.

You are our children and you are gifted in another way other than just years, you have a zest for knowledge. We saw it in Daniel and we see it in Rebecca. You are all born with it. Some events and schools work to foster this and some sadly work to crush this. Not everyone here has to be a scientist, but consider other possibilities as well. Teach science to young children. Or you can add to a science and technology scholarship we will be setting up in Daniel's memory. And if those are out of your reach, the only tribute to Daniel we ask you is now and then allow his memory and the knowledge that his death could have been prevented if we had more knowledge…allow that thought to inspire you and motivate you to find other ways to push to answers. And if you help move us closer to that answer, in anyway, we promise you that you will experience the deepest most wonderful feeling any human being can have other than perhaps giving life to a child.

Yesterday, in the depth of our sorrow, Daniel gave us such a gift, of giving life to a child. His organs have given life, longer and healthier, to four other children. It is a hard concept for you, his classmates and friends to emotionally grasp and we debated with ourselves whether we should risk saying this. Daniel's soul is intact in the constellation Orion, the first star we saw the night he left his physical body and flew off to his new home with God as his navigator. Our Rabbi told us that mainstream Judaism does not support organ donation. And here is where our family has decided that science can light a candle in the dark. In our mind, Daniel is his soaring spirit, he is our memories, and we, as parents, are given a chance to ease our pain by easing the pain of other children and families. How can that be wrong? These few words from Emily Dickinson reminds us that acts of compassion add meaning to our lives:

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Finally, I have tried to send messages to all of Daniel's on-line friends. Some of you may be here today. As a tribute to our son, he will have two headstones. One at his grave that will be unveiled in one year. And a living one on the Internet that will be unveiled today. Please visit it and leave messages for Daniel and our family. And it will also be a place where you can learn more about what you can do to help arrest these diseases forever.

God bless all of you that will give of yourself to end these tragedies. And God bless our son who truly has learned how to fly to heaven.