A visitation for family and friends and funeral mass for Gavin took place yesterday morning at the church were he was baptized and Kate and Ed got married. Gavin: age 5 1/2, a kid with a saintly smile who'd just started walking and had beaten many odds. Kate: a beautiful person and stellar mom contending with the unimaginable.
I stood in the church's lobby and pored over the many keepsakes and photo boards set out on tables, Kate's labor of love. Gavin giggling, playing in water, doing therapy, loving his family, looking so handsome, being a kid. His birth announcement. The paper Valentine's heart he made. I tried to compose myself, went into the chapel, stood on the receiving line, gave Ed a hug hello, hugged Kate, hugged her some more, sat down in an empty row, wept.
I spotted Miss Sara, Gavin's amazing aide, and Gavin's little brother and walked over. After Sara and I hugged, I stooped down to chat with Brian who was munching on organic bunny fruit snacks. We got to talking about his love for Angry Birds Star Wars, which I hadn't even known was A Thing. "Have you seen the Stars Wars movies yet, or are you too little?" I asked. "No, I'm too big!" he told me. I laughed. We high-fived. He gave me the empty bunny snack wrapper.
Love, hope, healing
Kate wrote an absolutely beautiful eulogy and read it with quiet strength, barely faltering. She acknowledged the sadness in the room, then said, "Ed and I feel strongly that we want people to leave here feeling mostly inspired....by Gavin and his journey. If we've ever been sure of anything, it is this: Gavin was sent here on this Earth to work through us to inspire others. To change people. To open people's hearts to endless possibilities. To inspire hope and healing."
Kate noted that she was aware that many people have been inspired to do wonderful acts to honor Gavin. "If people all over the world are feeling even a fraction of what we have felt over these 5 1/2 years as Gavin's Mommy and Daddy—inspired, lucky, blessed, hopeful—then my heart is full," she said. "Gavin is continuing to change people. Help people. Heal people's hearts...including ours."
Miss Sara read a favorite book of Kate and Gavin's, On The Night You Were Born.
Gavin, on the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered
"Life will never be the same."
Because there had never been anyone like you...
ever in the world.
For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again.
Ed wrote a homily, Prayers of the Faithful.
He asked that God provide people suffering injustice and tragic events, like those recently in Boston, with mercy and comfort.
He asked that God bless the teachers and therapists who care for and nurture our children.
He asked that God give hope to those who have recently lost a loved one or who are praying for organ donations for loved ones.
And he asked,
For all our children, that our love for them may keep the safe throughout their life on earth, and that God grant them eternal peace and happiness when they are with Him.
"People are fascinated with rainbows," said Father Kelly. He spoke of the first mention of rainbows in the bible, in Genesis:9. He spoke of classical composer Frédéric Chopin and his Fantaisie-Impromptu, part of whose melody is in the song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows." He spoke of Judy Garland singing about rainbows. And he spoke of Kate's blog, Chasing Rainbows, and how she's shared so much there, and inspired so many.
Every one of Gavin's therapists and teachers, from birth on, came to the service, except for a nurse who was with a family in need. One of Gavin's former aides even flew in from Turkey. They participated in the Presentation of Gifts. One by one, each walked up to the podium and placed a stem of blue hydrangea in a clear glass vase. A sign below read "A superhero sleeps here."
The final song of the service was You Are Mine, by David Haas. The last lines rang in my ears the whole drive home:
I am the word that leads all to freedom
I am the peace the world cannot give
I will call your name, embracing all your pain
Stand up, now, walk and live.
More words from Kate's eulogy that I will never forget: "Never let anyone tell you that you can't chase rainbows," she said. "As I look out on this sea of faces, I know that each of you have been inspired by Gavin's story. Gavin, really, was everyone's child and I was happy to share him with all of you. But you can find hope and inspiration and important life lessons in your own lives. In your children's lives, young or old. In your journeys, even when the path seems impossible to walk, like this one for us. Everything is an opportunity to learn... to help others... to grow. Gavin taught me that. I am just the messenger today."