By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News Contributor
The ICU at Dell Children’s Hospital of Central Texas is not where any parent of a teenage girl wants to be on a Saturday night. For the parents of Danielle Salcedo–a vibrant, happy, passionate, wise fifteen-year-old with a huge smile and bigger heart–this is not a place they ever imagined spending not just their Saturday night but nearly a week as they watched their daughter slowly fade from the ravaging effects of a ruptured brain aneurysm.
But that is not how Danielle should or would want to be remembered. Anyone lucky enough to meet Danielle–and the crowds at Dell Children’s indicated there were many–was graced by the light that shone from inside her.
For parents, Danielle was the anti-teenager: no one-word answers or staring at a cell phone. Danielle could talk at length about the things she loved, especially photography, music and her family. She was mature beyond her years and spoke of wanting to create photos that reflected her ideal world.
To her peers at Vandegrift High School where Danielle attended her freshman year before moving to Lakeway over the summer, she was the embodiment of kindness.
At the hospital, as Danielle’s friends huddled together sharing photos, letters and memories, the same words came up time and again: sweet, kind, always smiling, always ready to listen, never an unkind or judgemental word, thoughtful, loving, joyful. She spread a lot of joy.
It was the little things she paid attention to, the things that matter most when you’re in school. Danielle inviting you to sit with her when you didn’t know anyone in class. Danielle cheering you up after a loss in tennis. Danielle sending a homemade card on your birthday, her puffy pink, handwritten message wishing you an amazing life.
With braces still on her teeth, Danielle leaves us to imagine the amazing life that would have been hers. There are many firsts that she will never know–kisses, driving, college, love, parenthood–and many dreams that will go unmet. She will never study at University of California, Los Angeles. She will never be famous like her mom says she always wanted to be.
Instead of famous, Danielle leaves this world as a star. Her tragic death has allowed others to learn of her legacy of kindness, of her joy for life and love of others. Perhaps it will remind us all to be a little more like a Danielle in our daily lives.
It will have to be enough for those who love Danielle, for whom a day of their lives will not pass without missing their daughter, their sister, their friend.
A memorial for Danielle will be held Wed., Sept. 18, at 3 p.m. at Austin Christian Fellowship in River Place, 6401 River Place Blvd.
To share your condolences or memories with Danielle’s family, cards can be sent to: Sylvia & Frank Casey, 14923 Running Deer Trail, Austin, TX, 78734.
The Danielle Salcedo Memorial fund has been established to help the family defray burial and medical costs. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at any Wells Fargo.
On Monday, students at Vandegrift wore red, Danielle’s favorite color.
“Danielle was very sweet and was a wonderful friend. She was very happy and always cheered me up. She has a big heart.” – Karina
“Danielle was one of the sweetest and happiest people I’ve ever known. She was always laughing and smiling and could make your day from the moment she said hello.” – Teghan
“Danielle wanted to be a writer or musician, but most of all, Danielle wanted to be a photographer.There was no doubt in my mind that she would be an amazing one. She wanted to go to a photography camp so bad that she saved hundreds of dollars and wouldn’t let anyone help her. Danielle was persistent. Oh did she hate it when I called her that. But it was a compliment! I’ve never met anyone more determined than Danielle. But I’ve also never met anyone so genuine and sincere. She could be up in the clouds with all her dreams but so down to earth at the same time. Danielle taught me to love the unique and independent and to find the beauty in the simplest of things. Her beautiful photos are a blessing now as we are able to see life through the eyes of the one and only Danielle Rose Salcedo. I only wish that you were here to see that you finally became a superstar.” – Alayna
“Danielle was s sweet and wonderful girl. For the short time she got to live on earth she made a huge impact on the people’s lives who knew her, always bringing smiles to their faces. She will be greatly missed and always in our hearts.” – KayLee