All too soon: Grappling with the loss of my friend Daniel Bishop

Contributed photo Caroline Val.

The day I found out that my close friend Daniel Bishop had died, I found myself paralyzed in front of a pile of black clothes that laid on top of my bed.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon, only a mere few hours after an email from vice president of student affairs Pat Whitely announced that Daniel had passed away in a fatal scooter accident.

When I read the name “Daniel Bishop,” I thought, “Surely not.” This was not my sophomore year next-door neighbor in Lakeside Village, not the friend whose birthdays I had helped plan, not the Miami Heat enthusiast, not the beloved on-campus math tutor. It couldn’t be.

And then I kept reading.

Mathematics major. Senior. Scooter. Hurricane Productions. It’s On Us. President’s 100.

That’s when I lost it. I think even an audible “What?” came out of my mouth as I cried, confused by this cruel prank I thought the administration was trying to pull on the student body.

But it was far from that. My first call went to Monica Gupta, a mutual friend of mine and Daniel’s who was especially close to him. She didn’t pick up the first time, and I sent her several texts to call me as soon as possible.

“It’s about Daniel,” I wrote.

She called me right back, and we spoke no words. We sobbed into our phones. The release of pain and confusion was our only communication.

I had only just seen Daniel about a week prior. We had picked up a nice habit of running into each other on the first floor of Shalala, where I would be leaving the newsroom and he would be heading up to the HP suite. We had talked about how stressed we were with school, stressed with our extracurriculars, but we expressed that it had been nice to run into each other so often despite being so busy.

When I first met Daniel, I had just transferred to UM my sophomore year, learning about him through a mutual friend. He lived in the dorm right next to mine, all on his own in a single suite. I was impressed by his cleanliness and distinct decor – iron-pressed button-ups hanging in his closet, to-do lists with scheduled tutoring appointments and plenty of Miami Heat paraphernalia.

He was also the type to have some unnecessary but captivating purchases sprinkled throughout his room, usually impulsive buys with the money he had saved from starting his own math tutoring business at UM. My favorite was a $400 touch-screen toaster he had on his kitchen countertop.

Though I had only known him for a short amount of time, I immediately knew Daniel was special, like so many students know now. He already seemed like someone I knew I would have to put my best foot forward to keep up with, and this was well before he committed himself to so many campus organizations.

I was never a STEM person, so when I learned Daniel was a math major, I remember being astonished. I couldn’t say I had met any other person at UM who was not only good at math, but loved it as much as I loved Joan Didion and Gayle King.

His mind seemed to run a mile per minute, and I had to do my part to make sure I got every TikTok and Broadway reference he made, which also challenged me since I thought I already knew quite a bit about pop culture.

Despite his dumbfounding intelligence, he was still just a kid the way any of us find ourselves to be. It made him a walking paradox at times, like if Albert Einstein carried Trader Joe’s ice cream sandwiches and a cereal bar with stale Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops in his apartment.

He was a picky eater, not only because of his gluten allergy and lactose intolerance, but he often rejected any mention of a vegetable.

He was a theatre kid at heart, even serving as a counselor at a summer theatre camp in between sophomore and junior year. We would send messages on Snapchat during his time there, with him often supplying fun updates in his counselor gear. I distinctly remember passing by his dorm room several times my first year in UM to hear him belting out “Defying Gravity” from Wicked or some other showtune in the shower.

He had a scathing love for Chipotle, hosting a couple of Chipotle-themed birthday parties. He loved nothing more than the Heat, and if you just so happened to knock on his door to hang while he was catching a game, he would do his best to convince you he was “busy.”

And yet he made time for absolutely everyone, no matter who they were or how busy his schedule was. He was the type of person to invite you over if you had a final the next day and tutor you until 2am. I would sometimes text him late at night to make time for me if I had boy problems or math problems, and he would always make the trip to my place to chat.

I had the absolute privilege of being at almost all of his birthdays during our time together here at UM, from a Venezuelan restaurant I recommended him (where he notably only ordered white rice and chicken), to hanging out in his Gables Ponce apartment with his roommate Parker and all of his HP and P100 friends.

We spent holidays from Easter to Holi together and shared meals at the dining hall. He met my parents, and I met his sister, Julia, who I could tell was especially close to him.

As time went on, he got more and more involved with campus leadership, and I tried to bother him less and less.

But it’s also what attracted so many ‘Canes to him.

He was the most involved individual you can find on this campus, and often in the organizations that had the most reach. Whether it was helping freshmen acclimate to college life as an orientation leader or helping to put together the latest HP Homecoming Concert, it was virtually impossible not to run into his smiling face and upbeat personality.

The day I found out about his passing, still standing there in front of my sprawling black options of clothing, I made a plan to attend a local church that I had often visited with my family on trips to Miami. It was where I went with my mother to mourn the loss of my father just a year ago, and the only thing I could think to do was light a candle for what was yet another major loss.

It was the first of many candles that were lit that day for Daniel, as later that evening a touching vigil was quickly put together by It’s On Us, one of the many organizations Daniel was a part of.

Over 100 people turned out to UC Whitten to honor his memory, and I was inspired to see others gather to share what Daniel meant to them, whether they had met him just once or whether they were his closest confidants.

But while so many candles were lit and placed next to a picture of Daniel, beaming as bright as ever in his orientation leadership photo, there was no doubt campus certainly felt a bit darker that day.

Towards the end of his life, Daniel had met Everett, a UM alumnus who graduated in 2014, only about three weeks before his passing.

They met on Bumble this past Valentine’s Day, a day with enormous significance in Daniel’s life.

A Coral Springs native, Daniel had attended Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., notably having gone through the 2018 shooting that killed 17 students and teachers on Feb. 14.

I rarely, if ever, spoke with Daniel personally about what happened that day in his high school. I would dare to say that none of us who were close to him regard his life as a victim of what transpired.

Anyone who was blessed enough to even stand next to Daniel could see the way he stood out in a room, his animated and bubbly presence enchanting every single person he encountered, no matter how long he knew them personally.

That was exactly what happened with Everett, with Daniel’s straightforward nature and vulnerability in his initial conversations coming off unabashed and flattering. Because of this, Everett felt at ease to open up more, perhaps in a way where he normally would not at first. He told me personally that there was something about Daniel that made it feel as though he had known him forever.

He had the privilege of spending Daniel’s very last weekend with him after just weeks of talking and getting to know each other.

Everett wanted to share those details with me after seeing my comment in the first article The Miami Hurricane published announcing Daniel’s passing. He introduced himself to me over Instagram, saying that he wanted to get to know some of Daniel’s friends, especially since he wasn’t sure how to process such an abrupt loss of someone he was just getting to know better.

We agreed to meet at his funeral service later that week. It was that day that he shared with me all the beautiful details of my close friend’s final moments.

As Everett drove Daniel to their first date, they discussed and listened to Ariana Grande’s latest single “yes, and?” while anticipating her new upcoming album. The Friday before Daniel was gone, they went to his favorite ice cream shop, Salt ‘n Straw, on their second date ever.

They slept in all day on Saturday. Everett showed me Ring doorbell videos of him and Daniel, with my friend happily trudging along with a backpack and water bottle in hand, per usual.

He even shared with me Daniel’s brunch order he had gotten delivered:

Truffle Eggs; Don’t Want Spring Greens: Sub Homefries; Change Bread: Gluten Free Kaiser Roll.

It all made me confusingly giddy despite the hard week, like seeing this visual evidence of my friend alive and well so recently meant this could all be a figment of my imagination. Truthfully, Everett gave me a lot of calm in one of the darkest and confusing moments of my life.

He seemed like the perfect person for Daniel to have spent his last moments with in every possible way.

When leaving his burial, I asked Everett if he wanted to grab a cup of coffee. After he agreed, we found ourselves at a nearby Starbucks, where Ariana Grande happened to be blasting overhead.

Two of her songs played back-to-back coincidentally. The first was “Moonlight”, which he and Daniel also happened to have listened to on their final car ride together. The other was, funnily enough, “no tears left to cry.”

As we sat and sipped, we chatted about our memories of Daniel – how he touched us, how he inspired us and how much we miss him.

To our right, a teenage boy and a teenage girl sat next to each other. With their laptops and notebooks open, Everett happened to look over, and then he looked at me with teary eyes.

“They’re doing math,” he said.

Then, after another confirming glance:

“He’s tutoring her.”