Dear Gwendolyn,

Please know we truly want to be the ones reading you this letter; however the emotions are way too high today. Writing about you and sharing your story to others has always been easy as the words flowed straight from our heart. But, today is different. Today’s eulogy will fall short in every aspect because there are not enough words in the dictionary to describe the life of our beautiful girl. That’s because your love, light, and purpose are truly indescribable. This is a moment that words don’t reach as losing you is unimaginable.

On September 23, 2014- we watched you come into this world at St. Luke’s Hospital. Your pregnancy and delivery were so smooth and we brought you home two days later.  Being our first child, the excitement and anxiety were equally high as we were being discharged. We can remember driving away from the hospital and thinking, “they are just going to let us take this perfect baby home and care for her by ourselves?”

Arriving home, we settled into being new parents. After a few long months, we had a gut feeling something was off. But we could have never imagined the devastating news to come. On February 27th, 2015 we would get the news that would change the course of our entire life.

And that you did… You changed our entire life….100% for the better.  You made us the people we are today. People we always strived to be- and that’s because of you.  And you did that for anyone you met (and thousands who never had the chance to meet you)- YOU, Gwen, changed their mindset about life. And for that, we say THANK YOU for being an inspirational teacher.

You taught us about LOVE in the purest, most raw, unconditional kind of way. You taught us that sometimes LOVE hurts. But this kind of LOVE is one-in-a-million and we are so grateful to have had this kind of LOVE in our home. What a gift to us and your sisters. Your LOVE will radiate for generations to come as you set the groundwork for our family.

You taught us about enjoying the simple things in life…. Taking a walk, enjoying the sunshine, a nice car ride, listening to music, swinging, reading books, listening to the birds, watching Hallmark, and snuggling- thank you for reminding us to slow down and appreciate all of life’s small moments.

You taught us the importance of communication without ever saying a word. From the day of your diagnosis, you were in control and we always followed your lead.  Even on your final day, you communicated when it was time. Thank you for being the loudest voice- no words were spoken, but we heard so much.

You taught us how to be a listener. We will truly miss the ability to snuggle you and tell you all our worries, share our excitement, and ask your advice. Your smile, open mouth excited face, laugh, sly smirk, or eye roll always gave us the answer we needed.

You taught us about Strength. You truly looked pain, seizures, respiratory issues, and so much more square in the face and said, “you underestimated me!”  You continually defied odds and found humor in proving medical books wrong. And then you would give this sly grin to say “I won!” and it made us laugh every time! We hate that you had to fight so hard but we are truly blown away by your indescribable strength. You fought a mountain and won! Thank you for giving us more years than we ever thought possible- the gift of time is worth more than gold.

You taught us about the importance of a Smile and how a simple Smile can change someone’s day. Your smile was electric and always caused a ripple effect. We promise to continue to spread smiles as part of your legacy.

You taught us what it meant to be a fashionista! You were always dressed bow to toe! You convinced all your nurses that their primary job was to provide Spa Days including a shower, fancy hair-do, manicure, pedicure, and head massage. You were the queen and we all loved spoiling you!

You taught us that from Battles, we will find Blessings. Through your journey, we learned that you cannot fully appreciate the good if you have not experienced the bad.  Even though there was incredible pain, there were so many miracles along the way. Thank you for the gift of perspective and teaching us to find the silver lining- sometimes it’s harder to see but as long as you are willing to open your eyes- you will find the blessings.

You taught us about the importance of Family. You were the unifying force. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and your Grandparents all love you so much! It’s hard to say who loved more- your sisters love for you or your love for them. Watching you become a big sister was so rewarding as your face lit up every time your sisters played with you, snuggled up with a movie, helped care for you, or simply hung out in your room. You taught your sisters about compassion, acceptance, and how to be a wonderful caretaker. They will be wonderful people because of your guidance and lessons. Your presence was so felt by them and it is now leaving a void that is impossible to fill. As we prepared the girls for today, Harlan called it “Sissy’s Carnival” (rather than Funeral) and we think that’s perfect! We can hear your belly laugh now!  Seeing people be happy and celebrate your life is exactly what you would want! PS- can you please remember to shine your guidance extra heavy during their teenage years? That would be much appreciated!

You taught us the importance of humor- you truly had the most contagious laugh- and reminded us that laughter is a very good form of medicine. Anytime the younger girls got corrected or had to be put in time out, we would hear this enormous laugh erupt from your bedroom and we always imagined you reminding them how you never had to sit in time out and were the “perfect child”! We will miss those moments as they felt like such a typical older sibling response!

You taught us about the importance of friendship and finding a strong circle to surround you. You gave us the opportunity to meet and connect with some of the best people we have ever met! You showed your peers that friendship can be inclusive and special. It’s always so beautiful to witness kids doing good “in the name of Gwen.”

You taught us that “it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” During your 8 years, you truly lived! You swam in the Atlantic Ocean, multiple lakes, and many pools. You’ve went on boat rides, water tubing, snow sledding, and ice skating. You’ve been to pumpkin patches, 4th of July celebrations, church picnics, Saint Patrick’s Day parades, trick or treating, Easter egg hunting, and became personal friends with Santa! You were the team cheerleader for a soccer team and even formed your own massive team called “Team Gwen” with people from all over the country. You went to 1 Cardinal Game in which you were on the field before the game, featured on the news, met Fredbird, and won an award. You went to 1 Blues Game in which you sat in all-inclusive seats and met captain, Ryan O’Reilly- who can say they did either of these things at their one and only time to the stadiums? You went on a first date, a flower girl in a wedding, and a bridesmaid in a wedding. You have your own song that was written and recorded by famous musicians in Nashville. But, the most profound thing you accomplished was the creation of Gwendolyn’s Gifts in which you proudly held the title, CEO! You have spread Strength, Sunshine, and Smiles to over 1,000 families! We are in awe of your impact as very little people in this world accomplish what you did in your 8 years! We promise to let your legacy flourish and will continue to make a difference in your name! Our work has just begun…

You taught us about being tenacious: When we would have bad days, all we needed to do was think of you. Most of us would collapse or give up under your circumstances, but you gracefully fought every challenge thrown your way. And you fought with a sassy attitude. A quick story we never shared with many people-  On November 10, 2022 (two days before you attended the Blues Game), it was recommended you transition to hospice care. When a hospice recommendation is made, they say you have 6 months or less time left. You gained your angel wings 6 months and 2 days from that date. Beating that date is 100% the story of YOU- overcoming odds and doing it with a smile. You had a beautiful way of laughing when everyone around you wanted to cry.

You taught us how to captivate a room. You were larger than life and so much more than a child with disabilities. Everyone around you could see and feel your bright light. You accepted every challenge with strength, courage, and an incredible spirit. You set the tone of this journey with your huge smile, contagious belly laugh, and ability to find positive in every situation.

Gwen- We are convinced you came to this Earth to teach each of us about life. I am sure that one of the many reasons God blessed me with you was to teach me patience and I know you are still laughing about that! (that was written by Dad!)

Your life was way too short. Selfishly, we wanted to keep you for 100 years but we know your life purpose was always bigger than our plans. You taught us everything about life…except how to live without you.

Without you, we feel immense pain. But we will be okay as we feel peace. We try to imagine the sheer beauty of your arrival in Heaven. The red carpet drawn with people lined up waiting to meet you, fellow superheroes who have gone before you waiting to thank you for assisting their family, and family waiting to welcome you. And then we smile when we think of you telling them “let’s rain check this conversation, I have things I need to do.” And then like Forest Gump, we imagine you start running (and skipping, hopping, and jumping) and don’t stop! We imagine you run through the most beautiful field of sunflowers with your gorgeous mermaid hair flowing behind. We know you are smiling as the sunlight perfectly bounces off your face. And then at the end of the sunflower field, you find an ice cream truck and order 1 of everything on the menu. We laugh as we think about you eating sweet treats until your belly hurts. And we are okay because we know you are finally a kid.

We tried to prepare ourselves for this day since we were given your diagnoses. But, as much as you think you prepare, we were never ready to say good-bye. The sun starts rising during the darkest hour of the night. Even in your darkest hours, you always found a way to show us the light. Please keep leading us and showing us your light.

We know that “the gift of Gwen” was always meant to come to this world. The world needed YOU more than you needed the world. Thank you for choosing us as your parents and allowing us to have “the gift of Gwen” in our home. This journey was hard but we would do it all over in a blink of an eye if it meant more time with you. Forever would never have been enough time to show you how much we love you.

You are our Sunshine, our only Sunshine.

You make us Happy when skies are gray.

You’ll never know, Gwen, how much we Love You.

Please don’t take our Sunshine away.

Gwen- We are together forever, forever together. Thank you for allowing us to witness your first breath as you entered this world and your last breath as you exited. It was truly our Greatest Honor to walk this path with you.

Counting the days until we hold you again. Until then, we will chase every elephant and sunflower we can find to feel your presence.

Our forever love,

Daddy & Mommy

Published On: May 12, 2023Categories: News