My (Career) Why / Michelle Haslock (Mother)
Gabriel was a quirky, sweet, discerning, forthright, little boy who cheated at board games, ate lasagna as a snack, and loved without measure. Gabe was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on a rainy day in April of 2003 when he was six-years-old. He died 23 months later after a hard-fought battle, including chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant.
Prior to Gabriel’s diagnosis, I often prayed for greater patience. During the nearly two year span that Gabriel was on treatment, I was forced into getting an education on how to be more patient. I learned that’s sometimes it is best to hand things over to God, and accept the outcome. I stopped looking ahead, and learned how to stay in the present, because every single moment that I was given to spend with Gabe mattered.
Gabriel was a blessing to me for countless reasons; he taught me how to love unconditionally, forgive without reserve, have blind faith, and to have deeper empathy for those who are suffering. The “gift” I received from losing Gabe is that I learned that nothing in life is guaranteed. We can have hopes and dreams for the future, but the reality is that none of us knows what's going to happen when we wake up tomorrow, or even if we will wake up tomorrow.
As time went by after Gabriel’s death, I decided to use the lessons that I had learned along our journey, in a way that I hoped could make at least one small piece of losing a loved one a little easier for families. I began my career working in the death care industry. People often question if it is emotionally exhausting. Thankfully, most often I have found that having death as a part of my career, so often on my mind, doesn't have to be depressing. In fact, it can often be motivating and inspiring, as it serves as a simple reminder to appreciate each moment that I am alive, each moment that I am blessed to spend with a loved one, and each time that I am given the honor of assisting a family preplan their final arrangements.
My pain has softened over the years, but I still think about and miss Gabriel every day. Most often I think how lucky I am that I was chosen to be Gabe’s mom. I miss both who he was and who I wanted to see him become. I miss the way he held my face in his hands when he talked with me, and how he would draw a smiley face with spikey hair + a heart + a smiley face with curly hair (Gabe loves Mom) in the steam on the shower door. Close
Miss you / Jeff Carroll (friend)
Gabe is in our hearts and thoughts every day. We are reminded of his life in many ways. We miss him dearly on earth, but know he has a special place in heaven, and he's looking out for each one of us. I carry my own special reminder of Gabe along with me and read it often. It shows me that it isn't so important how much time we spend on earth, but what we do with our time. Gabe filled us all with his love of life and love for us all. His smile was infectious and he made great use of the limited time he had with us. Love you and miss you...thanks for the lessons you gave us all. God bless you and your family. Close
At 5:15 p.m. today it will have been one-half of a year – six months – 26 weeks - 184 days - 4416 hours - 264960 minutes - since you died. Amazingly I have survived every one of those minutes without you. I miss you probably more at this very moment than I did that very first minute that you left to make your trip to the spiritual realm. At first I felt relief because you had let go of your suffering. It was so hard to watch you be in pain. I have always felt like I was given one simple job as a mother – to protect you & I couldn’t even do that one job properly. Of course I wish that you would have never gotten sick. I wish we could go back to before April 28 2003 & I had my healthy carefree six-year-old little boy back. I was prepared for you to go to heaven but when I heard everyone else rallying for you it was hard not to jump on the bandwagon & wish for a miracle of healing to occur. When I realized that wasn’t God’s plan I wanted to make things as comfortable & peaceful as possible for you & make sure you knew I would be okay. You always worried so much about me. You loved me so much so completely so perfectly. You were such a good boy to me Gabey. I am so thankful I was picked to be your Mommy.
I wonder how many times we listened to our “peaceful music”? I’m not sure it stopped playing many times in your last days (except a few times when we popped in your “Gabriel Stuart Hero” song). Strangely I ordered that CD for you in Januari for Valentine’s Day almost as if subconsciously I knew it was going to be needed. We got the news on Maart 3rd (six months to the date of your first relapse) that you would die within 3-4 weeks. We had only listened to your new CD once or twice before then. After you knew you were going to die soon & couldn’t get out of bed you kept asking for our “peaceful music.” Brittany has a copy of it now. I imagine there is a story in heaven awaiting me about how I was guided to buy it. I bet those same angels that came to visit you & tell you not to be scared also carried Mommy through many of those last days of your life too. You always had a special connection with the angels.
Our house isn’t the same without you. The shock is beginning to wear off but all of the life & happiness left when you died. There are no more tents no more “special nights” no more “oven bake” cookies no more games with ever-changing rules & there is definitely less pizza! I used to sigh every time I walked out of my bedroom for two minutes & you would yell “Mom! Where are you? I neeeeeeed you to snuggle wit(h) me!” I never got anything accomplished in your last two years of your life. Now I long for you to order me around but only silent Grouchy Bear sits perched on my lonely pillow & now I am even less efficient. Everyone at home is trying to find the peace & a way to cope within themselves but we are all pretty disconnected. I am proud of the direction that Braxton & Dylan are heading although they have much work do yet on their grieving journeys. They both miss you incredibly. Without your blood to bind us we are not a “real” family anymore. I feel that I am only alive because I have to be here to take care of your brothers & so I can find my way to spend eternity with you. It seems like I live only as a means to an end. I’ll be there with you soon though sweetheart. Remember in just the blink of an eye.
The physical pain of missing you has lightened to a dull aching throb with occasional stabbing pains that still sneak up on me in those waves. A couple of nights ago your daddy asked if you wanted to go get in the shower. You loved how the warm shower made your back feel better. Some days you would take shower after shower as soon as the water would heat up. I miss how you wrote “Gabe loves (heart) Mom” every time on the steamy door. Sometimes I still write it for you. Daddy says he dreams about you a lot. Braxton says he tries to hurry during the school day to get his homework finished so he can come visit you at the hospital in the evening. Dylan often comes home from school & goes to the bedroom to see you. Sometimes I see things I want to make for you or buy & hide away for you for your upcoming 9th birthday or Christmas. We are all struggling to let you go. Even eventually when we finally can you will always always be a part of us. We all just seem to be a bit more confused lately – maybe because it was this time last year that you had relapsed & were spending your time back at Riley & getting prepared for your transplant?
Do you remember after you were diagnosed when you first started having night terrors & then all of the following countless nights we would press our foreheads together & do our repetitive chant: "Bad dreams go to Mommy's head...bad dreams go to Mommy's head...bad dreams go to Mommy's head..." I was always glad when it worked & you would get my good dreams & I could take the burden of your bad ones. I remember you telling nurse Lindsay that I had to do it not Dad because Dad had weird dreams. I hated how scared you would be when you awoke in such a fright. I always wanted you to feel safe when you were with me like little boys are supposed to to feel.
Ryan had his 9th birthday Austin will soon be nine too as will Tess. When you were little you hated to be at the end of that line up & having to wait patiently to await your birthday. By the time you were six you didn’t mind anymore. I saw two children from your preschool class in Dylan’s karate academy. During the class I hadn’t realized it was them they had grown so tall. When their names were announced I cried. It’s difficult sometimes to realize how big you would be getting. I think about how mature you were in ways of wisdom & how immature you were in social ways. One day I was visiting Patti & I saw Ryan’s spelling list & was so surprised at the words he can spell. You know Ryan though his handwriting is so neat! I thought “There is no way Gabe could have a spelling list like that this year!” You might not have been able to spell read or write perfectly but I have never seen anyone your age be able to do math problems with such ease & you had so many other amazing talents. Everyone has their own areas of strengths & weaknesses. (Well I’m still searching for my strengths!)
I pray aloud daily that heaven is so incredible everything & more than you & I talked about together & even more breathtaking than I could dream of. I hope your time flies by unaware & that you are having an absolutely amazing time doing things unfathomable to my human mind. There is a new little water park close by our house & Dad Braxton & I went with Jeremiah Cally Kaitlyn & Trinity recently. I couldn’t quit thinking & saying how much you would have loved it. Cally said “Can you imagine all of the cool things he has to do in heaven?” Mostly I hope that you haven’t yet had time to blink your eyes & miss us. I also pray each day that you cannot see what a disappointment I have become – although I know you would not see my countless flaws you would love me in that radiant Gabriel way. You would just see the same mommy you loved so unconditionally – the mommy with curly hair & soft skin that was “just so perfect” in your eyes.
I want you to know again that I am sorry you got sick. You did not deserve to nor did you deserve the pain & suffering. You know that though. I remember when Dr. Cavalier asked you if you thought you had done something wrong & you looked at her as if she were crazy. She was always so sweet to be concerned about your feelings. You knew cancer wasn’t a punishment. You knew our God wouldn’t punish someone - especially someone as innocent & awesome as you! You were a very good boy Gabriel. I know we had your list of pros of staying home from school: getting a Game Cube spending time together learning to love God more. But little boys were never meant to get sick & suffer. I wonder now if you just gave me that list so I didn’t worry so much about you being scared of your illness. You always took such good care of your Mama.
I spend a lot of time thinking of those very first days of my pregnancy. Oh I have never been so sick! You sure let it be known that you were going to be coming into the world. I also know those were signs for the doctors to look deeper & run tests to find some of your birth defects. You were calling for the attention being all-consuming as you were right up until the day you died. I loved that quality about you. You were very detail-oriented & particular. You would say “No Mom it was supposed to be done a certain way! No we have to start all over!” I feel guilty because I didn’t make you the right way but I know you don’t blame me. I am not mad at God for your illness (although somehow I feel some people seem to want me to be) nor have not lost my faith but it is hard to be pious when some days I am having problems struggling to find any signs of hope. I imagine one day a wonderful thing will happen & that hope will return.
I have never thought God gave you leukemia. I know God wouldn’t choose you or anyone else to hurt. I have wondered if God wasn’t powerful enough to stop your suffering & that has frightened me. It’s odd I had never pondered that before losing you. The only thing I prayed directly for during your illness was for you not to have pain or fear those last few days. The night you were diagnosed I felt it was best to hand you over to God. You had been so brave & strong I wanted desperately for your passing to be peaceful. I couldn’t understand why when you begged “Why won’t God help me?”- why He wouldn’t or couldn’t. Recently I read a book & it questioned the same things I had - "If God were good He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. Therefore when His people suffer we must conclude that God lacks either goodness or power or both." Then without reading on I realized I didn’t need nor want the answer – if there was one. The decision to take you was God’s & He will explain His choices to me in His time. I am sure you know by now & are happy to be where you are. I know I am the unlucky one waiting to be with you.
I am also so sorry you relapsed on your day 101 Gabriel. I am not sure I ever told you that. I’m honestly not sure I ever told you that you relapsed again. Things get a little foggy to me in those last few weeks with you – which is kind of silly since you were the one on all the morphine! We were certainly counting down the days until we could reenter the world & have some fun weren’t we? We didn’t really need to go anywhere to be happy though - the best days in my life were those days we spent together at home snuggling & chatting. You worked really hard to follow the rules & do everything so right. It was really fun to go with you on your last outings to Olive Garden the movie theatre to visit your girlfriends [wink-wink] & to the Pacer’s game though. You probably could have stayed awake & I could have tried to pay attention in those $500.00 seats but Reggie didn’t mind. He still shot the threes just for you! I would have never tired of watching you eat breadsticks with alfredo sauce. No matter where we were I was always so proud to be your mom! Even after you died I felt pride that pride. Like when the police officers saluted you on the way to the cemetery I felt a flood within me. I saw onlooker & imagined they were wondering who you were why you were so important. I just wanted to say “That’s my boy!”
Braxton Dylan & I went to visit Jenny recently & her baby is almost nine months old already. She’s just beautiful Gabriel. She is perfect like a little doll. I remembered how your eyes lit up in awe of her & you rubbed her tiny feet the first time you met her & she made little cooing noises at you. I think she had a crush on you just like her mommy did! Jenny liked to tease you a lot didn’t she? I know she misses you a lot now. She has your picture up on the wall of the restaurant next to her baby’s picture. You wanted to be a daddy one day so much & I know you would have been such a good one. Recently I met a man named Isaac that had been sick just like you were & he was told he wouldn’t be able to have kids also just like you were. I hated how you cried that day because you were so sad that you couldn’t be a daddy. After a few days you were at peace with the idea of adoption though. You said “Yeah I can get just one boy that’s maybe like five-years-old.” But guess what this very nice man showed me? It was a picture of his new baby daughter that he had in his wallet! Her name is Georgia. She was so pretty. I couldn’t talk to him for long because I felt like my heart was over-flowing with pride like I already knew him. I felt so happy for him & it also made me feel so good that if you would have survived that there would have been that hope for you too.
Dr. Cavalier moved away to South Carolina. I bet you remember where that is. You were good with states. She is at a different Children’s Hospital helping other kids with cancer. I was worried about her being in a new city alone but many of her new colleagues & patient families will fall in love with her just like we did. Her mom & dad are moving to live by her also. I was sad for her to move away which is kind of silly since we don’t see her anymore. I think it was just a safety feeling. Dr. Casale also moved to a University Hospital in Kentucky. It’s a good thing they all didn’t make this move before you made your big move or I would have been hysterical! I remember when you got diagnosed Dad & I saw Dr. Casale in the surgery area. Dad asked Dr. Casale about how your kidney would handle the chemo. Dr. Casale paused & said “Oh I had to think for a minute. I remember Gabriel’s kidney – I just couldn’t picture his face.” We thought that was funny.
Another season has come & gone. Fall is here now. You like Dylan loved the coming of the cold weather. Nothing is very enjoyable without you. I don’t want to pick our apples or visit our pumpkin patch anymore. I am not making applesauce for the first time since you were born. I remember getting apples last year & you being in the nurse’s clinic at school waiting for me. That was a horrible day & a memory that haunts me. There are some things I will probably never want to do again. I only want so desperately to come & be with you although I know I cannot. I knew since the day you were diagnosed that leukemia would be synonymous with patience in my life. It seems that will be true until the day I am able to come & be by your side. I hate thinking leukemia controls me any more than it controlled you but I suppose it does. In the end though Gabriel we won’t let leukemia get the last word. Leukemia wasn’t the cause of death on your death certificate & Mommy will get strong & find a way to let your legacy shine brightly. I will try to make you so proud of me.
I have been thinking about how we gave your Stem Cell Transplant Unit room at Riley the nickname the “Gabe Cave” since you were light sensitive & we keep it so dark. I’ve wondered if I have yet emerged from that cave. I tried to use this theory that if I pretend like I am doing all right & start reentering the world then things will slowly become okay. It didn’t really work for me. What happened if that I felt I was acting so fake in a world full of people who I resented for not even noticing that I was dying inside as they were complaining about their daily trivial experiences. So I am in search of Plan B. I have tried to give up my control tried to stop questioning stop wondering why you had to die & am trying to learn the lesson that has been meant for me. I want to have that type of peace in my faith. Okay I have made up this crazy circle of peace to try to explain to myself why things happened the way they have. Yes I know it’s an OCD explanation but I think it’s working for me. You my little obsessive-compulsive boy should be able to understand. Ready? The angel Gabriel came to Mary & told her she would give birth to Jesus... Mary said "Let it be."... The Beatles wrote the song Let it Be... I was named after the Beatles song Michelle... I named you Gabriel after the messenger angel... your illness taught me I can't be in control & I have to "Let it be."
I know you don’t hear me when I talk with or write to you. I guess I do it for myself. I tell you nearly every time I visit your burial spot that you are always with me always in my heart. I have told you this since preschool. Gabriel I believe this. You don’t have to be with someone to love them completely. I carry you with me always you are the reason I breathe the reason I want to be a good person the reason I continue. You were a part of me inside my womb when I gave birth to you when you were a baby & then a little boy & now I continue to carry you in my heart. That will never ever change. I will forever be your mommy. In a book I read recently a daddy got to go visit his little girl in heaven. Before he had to leave she went up to him & put her hand over his heart & said “I am right here in your heart until we meet again. I love you.” It reminded me so much of us.
Last weekend Dad Dylan & I all watched the video of your Star Wars Episode VII movie. Officer Kevin stopped by & saw part of it too before the battery died. It was the first time we had heard your voice since you had died. It was bittersweet. You were so cute. You did such an amazing job with your lines. I remembered how long you had worked at writing practicing directing & finally filming. After I caught my breath from crying & watched it a half dozen times. You had just the cutest little voice. The last day of filming was five days before your relapse. I wish I could see you roll down the hill one more time & I wish there were more tapes of you when you were older. Patti says she has some of you Ryan & Matt filming Star Wars too. Today I am going to watch all of your baby videos.
Do you still remember in preschool kindergarten & those few days of first grade how you carried your two special coins in your pocket every day one from me & one form Dylan? One said HOPE & one said LOVE. You also carried a little hankie every day. You took one of three: Humpty Dumpty The Three Little Kittens or The Western Cowboy. You also had to have “Kissing Hands” kisses in the palms of your hands that you could save for any time in the day that you might need them & never get washed off with water or even that crazy hand sanitizer. I remember the bus coming around the corner & you panicking to get your Kissing Hands. I sent you to heaven with Kissing Hands.
This Sunday is the Light the Night walk. YOUR team of angels is over 130 strong this year & is doing a great job fundraising. It’s crazy Gabriel – I have worked so hard for that day & I just don’t want to go. I’m scared that I cannot deal with it. I can’t imagine being at your walk without you. I remember our first year & how determined you were to walk even though you had lost 17 pounds & were in the heart of your first intense phase of treatment. I remember last year’s walk when we couldn’t go because you were inpatient & we felt blue & a little left out but then saw some of the illuminated balloons from a window & remembered how many people were rooting for you & the other kids. Lately I have tried to approach tough situations by just repeating a mantra continuously in my head to try to stop myself from becoming hysterical & upsetting (or freaking out) the people around me. Usually I can just tell myself: “Pick your head up…Be Proud…You are Gabriel’s mom…You are Gabriel’s mom…You are Gabriel’s mom…” repeatedly enough times & it makes me want to represent your bright light even when I feel like I want to crawl into a dark hole or sleep for weeks. I will do fine once I get to the walk.
Molly the beautiful little girl that moved into the room next to yours on the stem cell transplant unit not long before you got to go home came to heaven to be with you not long ago. I ache so much for her parents & would do anything to relieve some of their pain & heartache. You got to wave to Molly but didn’t really know her. When we went back to visit her you saw her from the hall once & the second time you waited in the family lounge. Once I ran up when you were in clinic with Miss Pat. I know you know Molly well now. I feel you were meant to be connected. Molly was born the day after you were diagnosed your first day at Riley when you got your first bone marrow aspiration spinal tap & got your port placed. Today I talked with Molly’s mom & she got an epidural that same day so you were both getting those darn needles in your backs! You & Molly both had ALL. Both of our families go to East 91st Street Christian Church. You had room next to each other on the SCTU. You died 23 months after your diagnosis Molly died 2 years to the day of her diagnosis. You are buried about 50 feet apart. Now you are both in heaven without pain & able to rejoice together.
Dylan started going to a group called Brooke’s Place. It’s said to be a haven for grieving young people. And although their focus is children they believe that children cannot heal unless entire families heal so I go to a support group for parents who have lost their children too. It’s so good to be there around people that understand us. It’s really a huge mix of emotions. You ache for the loss of others. You feel warmth for fitting in. You feel healing from being able to talk without people avoiding you. I only feel envy because often people talk about their lost loved ones coming to them in their dreams. I swore when you died never to ask for a sign from you. I wanted to have faith that you were in heaven without having to see something. Now I want so desperately to take that back. I do know you are there. I just wish I could see your beautiful face again. I know I will soon. Whenever I think too much about it I sing your Someday song.
Oh in Juni I entered your Someday song in a junior poetry contest & guess what? You won First Place & got the Editor's Choice Award for Outstandind Achievement in Poetry presented by the International Library of Poetry! Congratulations! Your poem has been put in a hardbound book. I ordered a half-dozen copies for Christmas gifts. I was really so proud. It’s funny how you still keep making me proud even though you are gone. You are still touching loves Gabriel still changing hearts. You are an amazing boy.
I have to go stop writing now because Dylan & I are going to take new flowers to your burial place. I am taking you pretty orange roses today since it’s a special anniversary. Orange is to represent leukemia. Not to celebrate it but in remembrance of the incredibly brave battle you fought. I always think of the day you told your Grandpa that no one would ever do treatment unless they had a family that you were only doing it for the people who loved you or you would just quit. That was such a gift you gave to us Gabriel. You gave everyone that loved you an extra 23 months to enjoy you because you were such a strong boy. I am so proud of you for that! Although I try to let leukemia be enough of a being to hate it I don’t like it much but I always try to remember that it did help you build your stairway to heaven.
I love you to the moon & back Gabriel. You will always be my sunshine. I miss you more than a million words could ever say. You are still my everything.
Letter to Michelle (Gabe's Mommy) / March 2010 / Abe Read >>
Letter to Michelle (Gabe's Mommy) / March 2010 / Abe
I saw my mom today and she told me it has been 5 years since Gabriel has died. My sincere condolences are with you. Gabriel was such a firecraker. I always thought he seemed well beyond his years even before his cancer. He was such a little man - assertive and strong. Saying "yes" to life in the midst of something so out of your control is the best medicine for suffering. I do not pretend to understand the pain you go through; however I do know that the Michelle I see is always full of life and laughs and that is what Gabriel and God would want. Close
Gabriel's tribute is a celebration of his life and how beautiful and givng life can be around us. While I didn't have the joy of knowing Gabe I've had the good fortune Michelle to know you. You're an inspiration and a wonderful Mom. I know you'll always carry the exceptional memories of Gabe with you and feel very blessed for the short but meaningful time spent together.
A Letter That I Received from Allison Watson / Michelle Haslock (Mommy)Read >>
A Letter That I Received from Allison Watson / Michelle Haslock (Mommy)
...I've been thinking about you a lot lately. Because of you and your amazing son Gabe I found out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. ...I feel blessed to have known your family.
I'm in my second year of nursing school and am loving every minute of it. I couldnt have asked for a better career and opportunity.
I am being considered for an internship at Riley Hospital for the remainder of nursing school. It would just be 15 hours a week as a student nurse but then considering they like me they would offer me a job post graduation. Right now there is a long waiting list but I've been moved up to the top of the list based on the previous experience I have and on grades.I'm going through the interview process right now and when asked what made me decide to pursue Riley Hospital I told them the story of Gabe.
How are things going? How is Dylan? I have him as a friend on Facebook and I can't believe how grown up he looks!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Psalm 23 / Michelle Haslock (Mommy)
Psalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Happy Eleventh Birthday Gabey :] / Ali Weber (Friend)Read >>
Happy Eleventh Birthday Gabey :] / Ali Weber (Friend)
I wish i could just have one more conversation with you. The way you'd go on and on and on about the littlest things amazed me. You had so much to say about every subject.
I have no doubt in my mind that you were truely an angel sent to Earth to touch people's lives. Well, if you don't know yet...you touched mine. You had more patience, love, heart, care, faith and strength in the eight years of your life than most people do in 100 years.
We all miss you so much. Happy Birthday.
If you were here, i know we'd all be out bowling to celebrate! I remember going to the pumpkin patch to the zoo...
Sometimes i think i was too young to realize how lucky i was to know you.
Thank you. i love you.
Merry Christmas. Keep your mom company this season. She misses you...
Happy tenth birthday, Gabe. 12/12/06 / Michelle Haslock (Mommy)Read >>
Happy tenth birthday, Gabe. 12/12/06 / Michelle Haslock (Mommy)
Happy tenth birthday, Gabe.
I am, of course, happy that you are in heaven now, untroubled & pain-free, but I still selfishly wish you were with me today so we could celebrate the day of your birth. I miss so many things about you & I grieve for you so very much. I wish I could tell you that you reached double digits today. I know that would make you happy! I wish I could see how your appearance has changed as you grew to be ten-years-old. You would be attractive but still quirky with your lopsided eyes & rigid upper lip; I have no doubt about that! I wonder what color your hair would be, your height, how much you would weigh. I wonder if you would still love me perfectly, unconditionally, approvingly. I received the following quote recently & it reminds me so much of you. I am so flawed, yet you still adored me. “You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” -Sam Keen
I awoke at least a dozen times during the night wondering what you would have asked for for your birthday. I wonder if you would still have the same interests or if they would be altering as you grew up. I wondered what Austin, Ryan & Tess got for their birthdays. I wonder if you would still loathe cake & ask me to put candles in the middle of a pizza as a substitute? I wonder if you would still like Blue’s Clues ice cream (I can still see perfectly your face stained blue!). I wonder if you would have wanted to have a pool party like every other year. You were such a creature of habit! I think that is because you knew what you genuinely liked & your commitment never faltered. I wonder if you would still sit amidst a pile of gifts & be content with opening only one or two.
I have been thinking a lot about the day of your birth. It is hard to believe that was a full decade & 33 minutes ago. You were such a pleasant, little, newborn baby! I have also thought about all of your birthdays that I felt blessed to share with you. On your first birthday, you were sick with your first ear infection, but you still got all messy with cake (that was the ONLY birthday you ate cake!).I bought you your big, stuffed, flopsy bear. On your third birthday, you loved Buzz Lightyear & you celebrated at Aunt Paula’s house. On your fourth birthday, you loved Rescue Heroes. We had our house fire two weeks later & t he real rescue heroes found them out for you. On your fifth birthday, you were into frogs & you even got a couple real tadpoles & a frog habitat! I think it was on your sixth birthday that I built the entire $100 Lego Pirate’s Castle for you & shortly afterwards you whipped it across the room. (then, true to character, you apologized sincerely two minutes later & asked me to rebuild it, which I never did). On your eight birthday we bought frozen treats & bottled sodas for all the oncology & stem cell families & staff, but you were too sick to care about snacks or gifts. Your gifts from that birthday were unopened & after your death were donated to Riley. Last year on your birthday, we had a remembrance birthday breakfast for you, collecting games & books for Riley.
This year is quiet, somber, and insightful. Dylan & I visited your grave last night. Tonight we are making spaghetti with lots of “venchtables” & watching a few Cased Closed episodes in honor of you. We talk about you all of the time & although we cannot see, touch, hear or touch you, you are still very much with us. It had appropriately rained all day. I have called for you to rain down on me when I have needed to feel you & I am pretending today that each raindrop is a part of you.
My life has changed so much since you left me. The only thing in my life that has stayed constant is having you to inspire me & give me strength. It is hard, because I want so badly to be with you, yet I know that for you I need to continue living. I want to be a Mommy that you & Dylan can be proud of & I am striving for that, although rather unsuccessfully, daily. I want to find peace (& maybe even glimpses of joy). You used to give me so much strength & purpose. I am so scared some days. I am sorry that I caused you to have cancer & that you had to endure & suffer so much. I know how lucky I am that I was able to tell you good-bye & did not leave words unsaid, but I wish that you would have been able to live like a normal, healthy, carefree boy. I wonder every day what must have been going through your little mind. You were so strong & brave. I have such overwhelming guilt for creating you wrong, but I pray that the good moments in your life hugely outweighed the bad. & that “The slight momentary afflictions do not compare to the eternal weight of glory. - 2 Corinthians 4” You were & are so very adored.
Having you back in my arms will be my final destination.
You are in my heart and prayers / Connie Hillman ((Victoria's mom) )Read >>
You are in my heart and prayers / Connie Hillman ((Victoria's mom) )
I am so very sorry for the loss of such a brave, beautiful boy. I also lost my daughter Victoria to cancer, so I understand what you went through and are going through now. To see the pictures of your son is to see the love you have for him and the love he has for his family. Gabriel's light will continue to shine and he will always be an inspiration to everyone who was blessed to know him. Cancer may have caused his death, but it certainly did not take his life. God bless. Close
Always thinking of you and your mommy. / Stephanie Gray (Friend)Read >>
Always thinking of you and your mommy. / Stephanie Gray (Friend)
I have struggled to find the right words to say everything that I want to say to you, and still have trouble finding them. Not a day goes by when I don't think of Gabe and mention his name somehow. I have never known such a sweet little boy with such a mischeivious side to him. Although he has been gone for over a year, I still feel like it was just yesterday that you called me and told me he has passed away.
I always think of him when I see a Yu-Gi-Oh card, or play a board game with Alex. It brings me back to when Gabe was first diagnosed and we were playing on the floor at Riley and he kept changing the rules on me. I don't think I ever did understand the game we were playing.
I find it odd somedays that my day continues like normal when I know your days are never going to be the same again. I can't imagine how it feels to see life go on around you, while you are "stuck" in time.
I have found myself so much closer to Alex now because of Gabe. Every night we say a prayer for him and I make sure to tell her how much I love her, because I have learned that you never know when the time will come that I can't say that anymore.
You are a wonderful inspriation to so many people. I hope you know that. You are continuing Gabe's legacy and making sure that no one ever forgets who Gabe was. He was and will always be so proud of you. Even in your down times, he is still proud of you. I remember how he held your face in his hands and just looked into your eyes. It was like he was telling you how much he loved you without ever saying a word.
Please keep the strength on your journey in life. You have so much more to do in this lifetime. But when your time comes, I know that you are going to be greeted by a little boy who loves you more than the world. "To the moon and back". Close
THE LOVE OF GABE / HEATH,LINDA,ZACKARY AND BRANDY HOLBROOK (FRIEND)Read >>
THE LOVE OF GABE / HEATH,LINDA,ZACKARY AND BRANDY HOLBROOK (FRIEND)
WE HAVE NEVER MET GABE OR HIS PARENTS OR SIBILINGS. I KNEW HIM BY HIS GRANDMOTHER MARY. SHE IS MY MOMAS FRIEND AT THE BEACH. YET I HAVE NOT MET HER NEITHER. ONLY VIA EMAIL. WE HAVE BECOME VERY CLOSE. WE ALL PRAYED THAT GODS WILL BE DONE. NOW GABE IS AN ANGEL AND WITH OUR PRECIOUS SAVIOR. THE FAITH HE HAD AND ALSO HIS FAMILY HAS TOUCHED MY HEART. WE FEEL WE'VE KNOWN YALL FOR A LONG TIME. GOD IS VERY POWERFUL AND FOR WHAT EVER REASON THINGS HAPPEN TO US, GOD ALWAYS HAS A PLAN FOR US. WE PRAY FOR YALL. MAY GOD KEEP BLESSING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY EACH AND EVERYDAY. MAY GOD GIVE YOU STRENGTH EACH DAY. GOD BLESS YALL
My Little Best Friend / Chelle Martin (friend)Read >>
My Little Best Friend / Chelle Martin (friend)
In our lives people come and go, friends move, our kids grow up and those we love are called Home.I am blessed with four children who are now grown and who have now blessed me with two beautiful grand daughters.I have volunteered in school, coached youth and held jobs where I have worked with kids for over 15 years.
Never was I blessed to meet a little man like Gabriel William Stuart. I am not so sure what it was about him that caught me within the first minutes of knowing him, but by far his voice played a big part.He would talk and talk and talk some more.Then came his personality and his very big heart.He loved so unconditionally.He could change the rules of a game within a minute if in fact he was losing or panic just a little and talk even louder and louder until you would find yourself just smiling and realize that all the rules and expectations were Gabized.When I would talk of Gabe at work or with friends I shared him as “my best little friend”.
Living in another state, I didn’t get to see Gabe and Dylan as much as I would have loved to have.I held and do hold them still closest in my heart.I have many memories and would like to share just a few….
* When Gabey didn’t feel so good I would lie next to him in his Mom’s bed watching cartoons or a movie.Gabe would lay with his little legs crossed and his hands behind his head so intense on his TV. I so remember his little knees, his feet, his toes, and his hairy legs. If Michelle and I would be talking, we’d either have to stop talking and join with him, be a little quieter, or move to the living room. If we did move to the living room, Gabe would call his mom to come back to the room.I’m not at all saying this negative but beautifully.Michelle and Gabe had a bond that I don’t truly know I have ever seen between mother and child.Absolute unconditional love.I swear with any moment, any game, any situation, I had a perma smile either showing or not the whole time I was there.I cherish my every moment of time I got to spend with Gabe.
* There was a day when Scott and Michelle had an appointment during a time when the boys were in school so Gabey and I got to hang out together.He loved playing Pokeman on the Game Boy or whichever it was and really wanted the “Green” or “Red” Pokeman game. I had told him that he could get whichever one he wanted and we’d go to Toys R Us and pick it up. So that day we took our trip to Toys R Us.Here we are at the games section of TRU and Gabe is talking Pokeman to the store guy in words I had no clue about but dang I was proud. The TRU guy of course got “Gabized”.After that we went to Gabe’s favorite pizza place Ci Ci’s for lunch.We got out of the car and started to walk across the parking lot and all of a sudden this little arm comes up across me as to have me stop.Gabe looks up at me and says “Now you have to look both ways when you cross here because cars can just come through here fast.”We wait, he looks both ways, then nudges me to “come on”.Here is my best boy not feeling good and who was he taking care of?
* Then there was the night that Dylan, Michelle, Braxton and I were in the living room and Gabe was in the bedroom watching TV. Michelle was laying across the ottoman with her head upside down just relaxing and talking.I noticed how her mouth was moving and how it looked upside down.Oh we laughed this night.I covered her nose and eyes with a shirt and drew eyes on her chin so her mouth and chin became a new creation. Michelle was playing a great part by talking with this silly voice and Dylan and I were busting up laughing with just this.Then Michelle decides to get some green cake sprinkles and kinda drool out her mouth and become Jabba the Hut from Star Wars.Now all this time Gabe is still in watching TV.We get everything set up as perfect as we can and we call Gabey to come out to the living room.He comes out and here is “our” version of Jabba with green whatever coming out the mouth.Gabe gets down on the floor, crosses his little legs and just looks for a few minutes.Michelle is talking to him in a Jabba voice and Dylan and I are just totally cracking up.Then Gabe starts talking to Jabba asking about Star Wars stuff and whatever else.Now Jabba is sick because of all the green sprinkles in her mouth but she keeps playing the part.Gabey takes his little hands and puts them on his mom’s cheeks and just talks and talks and gets closer and closer to her face.His smile was ear to ear. It was truly a classic moment. I have a picture of him talking to Jabba and will always here his voice and remember this night.
* It was the beginning of the school year and Gabe finally got to start school (which didn’t make him the happiest kid on the block :-).It was Open House night and I got the complete pleasure of going to his open house. I felt so so PROUD that night.I can compare it to being so proud of an accomplishment you make yourself or an accomplishment your kids might make or how proud you feel becoming a grandparent. The next day Gabey came home early from school with a terrible headache.Scott was out of town so Michelle and I took him to RileyHospital where I never ever expected to hear the word “relapse,” where I never expected I’d help hold him during a spinal tap, never where I thought I would hear the words Dr. Cavalier and Dr. Goldman share.Even with the darkest words, the pain, the sadness, and the tears have I ever been so proud of being with Gabe.He was so brave.We got home and Gabe’s head hurt so badly, he couldn’t walk and he just felt terrible but even with the worst of headache he wanted to play a game of Pokeman cards.He wanted to play upstairs so I had him climb on my back and I carried him up the stairs. Carrying him, I prayed and asked my strength go through my body to him and make his pain go away.I disliked so seeing Gabe hurt.He and I played not long but long enough that he felt good about teaching me.Then I laid next to him and rubbed his back and head to try to comfort his pain.No one should ever go through that pain.I questioned why and prayed so hard that night.Going home a few days later was one that was very hard to do.
My last visit with Gabey was the last two weeks of his life.I remember spending a short amount of time alone with Gabe a day prior to his journey Home.I stroked his hair, told him stories of silly things, talked to him about his pussy willow tree, touched his skin soft, and told him how so very proud of him I was.
There are so very many more stories and so much more to my memories of Gabe and my time with him.I look at the pictures on this site and see how Michelle’s and his eyelashes are the same, how their fingers are the same, their brown eyes, and remember and know their love for each other.I can see and hear Gabe so and never want to loose that or not share my memories with his mom, his brothers, or anyone.
I loved to share with you my few memories of Gabe. Not often is it we meet a young child that can touch the lives of others and our world as Gabe did and has. Gabey was an unconditional giving and loving little man. I believe we all have been blessed and I am thankful.
I know so many of you too have memories and stories and I am thankful too for that.From me, from my heart and deeper I forever will hold Gabriel. I love him dearly.I love Dylan tremendous and so cherish my friendship with Michelle.
“Thank you my Mr. Stuart Little for blessing me with everything you have. I love you”
And here is a song that goes up to Gabriel William Stuart…
I don't want another pretty face I don't want just anyone to hold I don't want my love to go to waste I want you and your beautiful soul You're the one I wanna chase You're the one I wanna hold I wont let another minute go to waste I want you and your beautiful soul
I know that you are something special To you I'd be always faithful I want to be what you always needed Then I hope you'll see the heart in me
[Chorus:] I don't want another pretty face I don't want just anyone to hold I don't want my love to go to waste I want you and your beautiful soul You're the one I wanna chase You're the one I wanna hold I wont let another minute go to waste I want you and your beautiful soul
Your beautiful soul, yeah
You might need time to think it over But im just fine moving forward I'll ease your mind If you give me the chance I will never make you cry c`mon lets try
I know that this is an incredibly somber day for you and I know that nothing but what is impossible to grant can make it any easier. I was first introduced to Gabriel on February 17th when I read the story of his relationship with Kevin Kobli on the In the Line of Duty website. There was a hyperlink to your memorial website that I clicked on. I saw the pictures, read the words and felt the pain. There was one particular picture of Gabe where you commented on the eyes you so loved and I realized how similar my son Zachary’s eyes were to his. Deep brown pools of unimpeded life. I imagined life without my children, particularly my five-year-old son, and wept. I experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness and believed that a greater power was attempting to send me a message of some sort. What that message is I do not know. If I ever get it I’ll write you back.
I have been a police officer in the City of Cleveland for more than twenty years now. I have seen every type of human depravity and death that you can imagine. Like most big city police officers we tuck those horrific memories away somewhere in our subconscious and usually only relive them at night when we sleep. We do this just to survive. Just as you turn your back on the horrors, you humbly remember the valiant actions that you were part of or witnessed others take. You usually don’t think about what you did until it is all over and perhaps that is best. You honor your colleagues who risked it all, unfortunately sometimes at their funerals.
The courage and fierceness Gabe displayed during the last twenty-three months of his life demonstrate a character that few of us ever get the honor to see. Those who keep the wolves away, the warriors, don’t do it by choice, they do it because fate chose them at that time or moment to fight the good fight and not falter, because those that love us are depending on us to do so. The heroes who throw themselves into battle against all odds to fight the monsters who plague us are soon forgotten by those that live among the lambs. The other warriors who fight along side of them do not forget, because by witnessing the battle they have a responsibility to chronicle it for the rest of us. Gabriel was a warrior and you are the witnesses who fought along side of him. What you do by chronicling the days he spent with us allows us to see the miracle of life and the importance of living it fully and leaving it with dignity.
One of the greatest benefits we get from the job is the awe and wonder we see in the eyes of the children who admire us. The little boys and girls like Gabe who long to be a police officer. Many of those kids do grow up to be public servants because it is in their blood to make a difference. I have no doubt that your son would have been one of those people. I am honored that he wanted to be.
Lieutenant Thom Dillon Cleveland Division of Police firstname.lastname@example.org Close
Letter from Ryan to Gabe on the one-year anniversary of Gabriel's death. / Ryan Knight (9 Year Old Friend )Read >>
Letter from Ryan to Gabe on the one-year anniversary of Gabriel's death. / Ryan Knight (9 Year Old Friend )
Hey Gabe. How is hevin. I hope it is fun. School is fun kind of. I miss you a lot. Do you know anyone there. have you meet God. I hope you have. I hope you know I love you and I think you love me. You will always be my friend. I hope you see garbe (Ryan's cat) up there. And - of you don'y know that buster (Tess' dog) will be in hevin. I care and miss you a lot. I hope you can help me for the rest of my life in anything. I love you! by Ryan to Gabe
Portion of Team in Training Fundraising Letter / Doug Wagner (LLS Fundraiser )Read >>
Portion of Team in Training Fundraising Letter / Doug Wagner (LLS Fundraiser )
And then there’s Gabe Stuart, the young boy who was our honored hero for the Disney Marathon.Gabe lost his battle with leukemia last March. Alex, Katie and I visited him in December, and I was so impressed and humbled with the incredible courage, spirit and faith he and his family exhibited.While I got involved with TNT because of my own experience with cancer, Gabe is who I think of so often in all this.I personally want to do everything in my power to make sure that others, kids especially, don’t have to experience the suffering he endured
Quote/ Colleen Scheu (Social Worker ) "Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith... it is the price of love." AnonymousClose
Many heroes here / Julie Van Dielen (In the Line of Duty )Read >>
Many heroes here / Julie Van Dielen (In the Line of Duty )
We at LOD were touched by the relationship between Gabriel and Officer Kobli. Reading here, it's clear that Gabriel had many heroes in his world, none of whom went looking for the distinction.
Officer Dan Claassen wrote a beautiful tribute to his friend, teaching their colleagues that they may never know how much they touch another person.
Gabriel's brother Dylan writes with an understanding and maturity earned too soon.
Clearly, Gabriel was surrounded by loving family and friends. We're honored to help remember him and his friend Officer Kevin. Close