Gabe was tall and handsome ... but he wasn't like most 27-year-olds. He had had Addison's disease since high school when he almost died after being rushed to the emergency room but recuperated to graduate and attend college and live a full life while taking medication to control the disease. After graduating from college, though job opportunities were narrowed because of the Addison's, he found a job, moved out on his own, and was living and working like others his age.
Gabe was our neighbors' first grandchild. I heard of the death from a friend ... I knew the neighbors would be gone, returning to the midwest where their family lived and would gather for the funeral. Gabe's brother was in Iraq when news arrived of his brother's passing.
Today I learned the rest of the story ... and grieved with them at the pain and hurt but marveled at the joyfulness in remembering Gabe.
Friends and family and work associates turned out to honor Gabe, sharing stories and memories of this gifted and talented young man who had made All State Band playing the clarinet. That talent was remembered during the funeral by a clarinet soloist who played the hymn, "In the Sweet By and By," a sound so sweet that my neighbor said it almost ripped her heart out because it sounded like Gabe playing just for them.
His parents read from the Bible the Scripture that had been the most comforting and appropriate for the service ... and the pastor gave a wonderful and healing sermon, saying he felt the Lord had held out His hand and said, "Come, Gabriel, it's time to go home."
As my neighbor shared more details, she said it was healing to be able to talk about it even as it hurt knowing she would not be seeing his smiling face again. He left behind many friends, she said ... and they all turned out for a separate memorial service in the city he had worked in, a service that went on and on as his friends and work associates shared with his parents their memories and love for Gabe. Grown men cried ... everyone seemed to love him ... and it provided a time of healing for his parents.
My neighbor ended by saying, "There is something about the first grandchild that you never forget ... holding, feeding, looking at them for hours, and that they made you a grandmother!"
This is in memory of Gabe who was just two years older than my own son ... and in honor of my good and kind Christian neighbors. Our prayers go out to Gabe's family, both here and in the midwest, and to all who loved him.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." -- John 14:1-4