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Danny Shader

Updated: Dec 17, 2018

I can’t imagine there’s much I can say much about Mallory that you don’t already know, so I’d like to share a little of what it was like to be in what I like to think was Mal’s 2nd family, since Lissa, Sarah, Hannah and I live in Palo Alto near where Mal spent her college and post-college years.

It wasn’t long into Mal’s college experience that I got an urgent call from Diane asking me to get to Mal’s dorm room asap. Why? Because Mal had consumed too many “brownies.” Di said she was high and puking, the latter being particularly risky for CF patients. After being re-assured by a good friend at Stanford hospital that Mal would be okay, I spent the night on her dorm room floor. At that point, I think I earned her trust, and Ri-Ra, as I called her, started bringing her friends over to our house to study.


As Mal’s disease progressed, she spent an increasing amount of time with us. Since you all know Mallory, I don’t have to tell you how great that was. We got even luckier when Mark and Diane came to visit. You can imagine how creatively “Crazy aunt Diane,” as we affectionately called her, found “essential” reasons to be in Palo Alto. When the Smiths were around, our house resonated with laughter, periods of CF-induced terror, lots of delicious stove-top meals, and plenty of embarrassing questions.


Once, when our girls were entering their teen years, Diane asked Lissa which boys our girls liked -- in front of Mallory. Lissa said she didn’t want to ask them because she wanted to respect their privacy. Without missing a beat, Diane responded “Privacy? Phhh!”


Although Diane’s response cracked us up and made “Privacy, Phh!” a reference that lives on, what I remember most about that moment was the look of smiling, loving disgust that passed over Mal’s face, with an emphasis on the loving part. Mal’s affection and appreciation for her mom, dad, and brother were readily apparent to all of us.


Ri-rah also adored our daughters, and they adored her. Mallory was the perfect role model for them -- kind to others, deeply principled, intellectually curious, loyal to her friends, and seemingly unstoppable -- in short, the kind of women I hope our kids will be.


We got very lucky when Mal went to Stanford. What I’ve found myself thinking about a lot lately -- with more than a little guilt -- is that, perversely, Mal’s illness was our family’s blessing. Without CF, we’d never have had so much time with Mallory.


Diane, Mark, Micah, dad, and Jack: please know that we would trade that all that time away in a heartbeat if it meant Mallory could still be here with all of us today. Re-rah, our family will miss you forever, but you’ve left an indelible mark on each of us, and for that we are eternally grateful.




About

The diaries of Mallory Smith, a remarkable young woman who was determined to live a meaningful and happy life despite her struggle with cystic fibrosis and a rare superbug—from age fifteen to her death at the age of twenty-five.

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